On Dying Culture

November 3, 2010 at 9:15 AMNov (Activism, Cinema, Friends, Literature, Media, Music, Musings, Slice Of Life, Soliloquy)

Red-bricked pillars and white walls sheltered us as we sat on red sofa. Pattabhi was with his ciggarette. My friend was sipping wine with Patabhi. Vrinda and i were a part of the discussion, which had no particular topic. Manto, Naxalism, Ambedkar, Kafka, Gandhi everyone visited us.

The discussion suddenly shifted when my friend said- “you know Pattabhi, i wanted to construct a hut and stay there with just two cotton shirts and two cotton pants. i had collected all the material required to construct a hut. You ask Vrinda, she knows and her son was helping me out. But at that time i got a call from this MNC for which i am working now. i wasnt willing to go. But the family pressure made me take up the job. I could have done nothing. But, in this MNC i have introduced art and aesthetics and also music. that’s my satisfaction”. My friend’s frustration about his life and his past was visible in his words. “Yes” interupted Pattabhi. Vrinda and i uprooted our eyes from my friend and planted it on Pattabhi. “You have taken pure art to an MNC. Good. But, what’s the state of the hut?”

To this day, I ask myself. “What’s the state of the hut?” I extend the same question. Today I write this piece on Microsoft word. So what’s the state of paper? When paper was introduced what was the state of the oral culture? If I take classes with the help of PPT, what’s the state of the chalk?

A hut, a paper, a chalk- they are not just an item. It’s an epitome of a culture.

***

Werner Herzog’s film Where The Green Ants Dream has a court scene where a tribal man starts speaking in the court when he is not asked to. The judge asks him to stop and then asks a local man to convey the same message to the tribal man who is unable to understand what the judge is saying for the judge speaks English. The local man tells the judge- “Sir, he is the last living man from that community. None of us know his language. Nor does he know our language”.

With this scene, Ashish Nandy posed a question at us- what is that the world has lost? What that community and that culture could have contributed to the world?

07 June 2008

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