Sunday, October 17, 2010

A Sunday and a Slum Near My House, and Unending Carnivals

It’s Sunday. Went for a walk at the dam. It’s kind of gloomy weather. The sun is up, but is not visible. I walked for my usual ten rounds. Then I marvelled at the quietness of the valley. I was amazed by how quickly a slum had come up near the dam. It came up overnight. It’s a small slum, but slum nevertheless. A few men, brought here, as Mohanan informed me, as labourers from Tamil Nadu, were making arches with cane and covering it with plastic. They do a neat job. Mohanan says they will leave after the work is over. I don’t know. They use firewood which is available in plenty in the forest surrounding Artist Village. I saw a woman knitting coconut palm fronds into a neat cover for the door. I have seen this being done in Kerala. It’s a beautiful and very basic art. I had tried my hand at this without success. There they will eat and sleep. They don’t have lights. It’s a primitive life in a city, devoid of the trappings of consumerism. There is a small stream nearby where they will wash and bathe. There are also children. Mohanan says they will go away. I don’t know. I wonder if they will. I don’t like it when a slum comes up near my house. Usually they stay back and it becomes a permanent settlement. What can be done?
It’s Dussehra, the festival of the victory of good over evil. There are drums every where. Snare drums, bass drums, pulsating, building up a crescendo in every street corner, a carnival of sort. There’s a carnival going on every street. Of late, these carnivals are what characterise our society. Every building’s society should have their own Navratri disco dandia, and every street must have their own mandap (no, offense this to the Gods, but only the human tendency to compete). And there are contests and singing and dancing. Do we need so many carnivals, unending? Who are they set to address? The common man, the working man is least interested in spoiling his day with a lot of noise. I guess it comes from ill-gotten money, the filthy lucre, which must be spent on making a lot of noise, bursting crackers. Whatever happened to the more subtle forms of enjoyment, some folk art?  What I hear is rip-offs on Hindi and Marathi music and remixes and rehashes. But then who has artistic tastes in Artist Village?

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