Me Thinks

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Social conditioning

Years before I even knew of the term philately, whenever someone asked me what my hobby was, I'd proudly say "Stamp collection". My brother and I kind of inherited the stamp album that my cousin possessed because he had outgrown that hobby. And not once did I actually seek stamps although my brother would trade Sultanate of Oman for rare stamps like Uganda and thus pretend, I think, to be more serious about the hobby. Whoever I mentioned this hobby to, would carefully collect and hand over the stamps to me and thus our collection grew big till one fine day, we forgot about the album and consequently lost it. I've often wondered why I mentioned that as a hobby when my actual hobby was watching TV. Cooler friends of mine said things like photography and gardening. I couldn't use photography because I thought there was absolutely no fun in pressing a button in a camera (obviously I didn't think of the pictures) and gardening would be a sham since we lived in a flat and the only plant we had was a money(or is it mani?) plant that grew in a pickle or Boost bottle. So I came up with stamp collection to be accepted into the cool-people world.

When I was 13 or 14, we were asked to write an essay on our favorite characters in epics. I wrote a long essay on why Yudhishtra, the personification of truth and justice, was my favorite character when the truth was I liked Sahadeva. I liked Sahadeva in Mahabharata and Shatrugna in Ramayana. But I could never have written more than half a line on these characters.

A digression - Sahadeva (one of the Pandavas) and Shatrugna (one of Rama's brothers) have a lot in common the least of which is the starting letter of their names. They are the invisibles. Maybe I should add that based on my knowledge of the epics, thats what they are. Even Nakula gets a mention for being the most handsome of the Pandavas. But Sahadeva just makes up the number. Ditto with Shatrugna. He is merely one of the sons. So when Ramanand Sagar and Chopra made Ramayana and Mahabharata serials, they picked the most morose-looking characters to play these roles.

Its funny how even as a school kid, people like me innocently said and did things that were totally untrue only to be appreciated and accepted. Over the years we realize it and laugh at it like I do now. And hence I've come to appreciate kids that actually say what they feel. Its got something to do with confidence - confidence that the world will still be the same even if they are not accepted as elite or normal. I saw an 8-year old boy tell Santa that he wasn't a good boy but he'll be next year and that he still wanted a gift this year. I would never have said that as a kid. (I also defend that it can't be termed hypocrisy if the age is taken into consideration.)

22 Comments:

Blogger Karthik Sriram said...

Indian kids, instead of having a go with the flow attitude have a go with the herd attitude. I remember when I was young, I had a Hero Ranger bicycle whereas the in-thing was the Rockshox bicycle with shock absorbers and other crap and it released two months after ranger. I remember entering every godforsaken competition (Coke crown cap collection, collecting empty toor dall cartons etc etc) which had the rockshox as the prize.... all this just to be part of the cool dude gang....


LKS


p.s: I thought you would like Krishna, Kunti, Kaikeyi from the epics.... ;-)

9:23 AM  
Blogger Jay said...

Happy New Year, Deepa.

3:02 AM  
Blogger Oracle said...

It should be said in defense of the 70s/80s kids who were confronted with...

"Which rank do you get in School?"
"You didn't clear NTSE, JEE is going to be impossible"
"You know we used to read in streetlights"

The whole growing up atmosphere was stifling...

Kids, at least now, are allowed to be themselves instead of being "the gifted one"

3:36 AM  
Anonymous SK said...

Great post Deepa - you're becoming philosophical! ;-) Happy New Year.

1:04 PM  
Blogger Ajay said...

HNY, Deepa!

8:56 PM  
Blogger barb michelen said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:36 PM  
Blogger subramani said...

Satrugana and Sahadeva would have felt happy to read this post. Hope there is internet connection in the other world.

On more serious note, a excellent blog. Got me thinking for quite some time.

5:58 AM  
Blogger APAM NAPAT said...

Deepa,
Happy New Year to you and fly.
I collected stamps. Possessed very rare ones. But gave it away to prove my friendship to a guy who inturn gifted it to a girl whom he wanted to impress. The girl accepted my three huge albums but rejected my friend.

11:39 AM  
Blogger I said...

aanalum, you should drop the frat incurious boy. nalladhe illa.

11:16 PM  
Blogger In Want of Being Me said...

Exactly. I am unable to understand why we do things just coz., we want to be accepted. I don't think, it stops there, with stamps. But continues to grow on us as we grow older.

I know somebody who likes the 2 wheeler better, but he uses the 4 wheeler because of his position in his workplace.

Many times you are forced to do things for the sake of the society. Women forced to wear jewelery and dress up for a wedding in India, is one popular phenomenon which is still dominantly prevalent.

If you don't dress up, it is considered an insult to the host.

Either it is social conditioning, or for want of fitting in, we continue to keep doing this, just because it has to be done.

..and very interesting observation about Sahadeva and Shatrugana.

Nice write up. :)

3:12 AM  
Blogger Mahadevan said...

Perhaps Shatrugun Sinha's parents too thought like you and named their son as Shatrugun. His two sons, Luv and Kush. bear the names of Ram's sons, who too had a minor role to play. Sahadevan is quite a common name in Kerala. If I remember right, the owner of the'Circus', in which Sharukhan made his TV debut, was also a Sahadevan.

I think Shatrugun and Sahadeva are like the 12th man in a Cricket team - to do labour without comensurate reward.

Wishing you a Happy 2008.

5:08 AM  
Blogger Me too said...

Once during my school days, for an essay on 'My hobby', I wrote watching TV(as one of my hobbies along with the traditional ones like reading!)and my English Miss ridiculed it(vaTching TV!!) infront of the whole class(thankfully without mentioning my name!). That's how you are made to choose either to join the 'cool' gang or the 'rebel' gang(you know I'm in the rebel gang, right?).

3:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

deeps...well I wonder if u remember that I was collecting stamps to impress one of my crushes then. And we had an exhibition in school. And u gave me quiet a few stamps from your collection...those of the countries that I didn't possess....And finally after the exhibition was over, mangalam miss surutified the whole album claiming that it becomes a school property!!! crazy!! but that was 'The End' of my stamp collection episode. Well, I didn't mind it much then, since my crush on that guy died too!!

9:46 PM  
Blogger Anusha Parthasarathy said...

Deepa,
Happy New Year. Let me tell you something about Sahadeva and you wont have regrets liking the character. Sahadeva was an expert in astrology. Like Lord Krishna, he could foresee the events so eventually the Kurukshetra War and the Pandavas Victory but he did not tell these out(or rather he was prohibited from telling all this even before the event happened). Also if I am not wrong, he will kill Sakuni(destined to kill Sakuni).

11:37 PM  
Blogger Sudhakar said...

That is because of the nature of soceity.A well developed and matured soceity allows open talks.
An unmatured soceity will not allow open talks and even if you do you cannot do it without causing much damage.But nice that you have accepted the same now.Same goes with me in my younger ages.

10:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good thought, Deepa!

I envy you for the flow of thoughts and your postings!!

3:05 AM  
Blogger ashok said...

happy new year deepa and nice post...

11:16 AM  
Blogger ராமானுஜம் ராகவன் said...

I thought Sahadeva got a mention for couple of things. One, he was an expert astrologer. In fact, he was the one who fixed the date and time for Kalabali for the kauravaas, which led to Mahalaya Amavaasai.

Also, he is the only one (if I am right) who could even bind Lord Krishna, with his Bakthi.

Shathrugna? I don't know.. :(

11:15 AM  
Anonymous Akay said...

Sahadeva has a better role than Nakula, I think. He fixes the kalabali date for Kauravas which prompts Krishna to advance the Amavasai by a day, otherwise the Pandavas might have lost the war. Also, as someone had mentioned already, he is the one who kills Sakuni, as it is his destiny. Well, Shatrugana, I think was only a thokku (or oorkai :) ).

7:20 PM  
Blogger Me said...

nan comment pannama pudhu post podradhula nra mudivoda irukeenga...good..

10:21 AM  
Blogger Deepa said...

LKS, krishna OK, why Kunti and Kaikeyi? Are you missing something?:-)
Thanks Jay. Same to you.
Oracle, I know, sondha kadhai is soga kadhai.
SK, philosophical?! But not intentional. And thanks.
Ajay, HNY? You SMS-addicts!! Thanks though.
Thank you Subramani. Anything that would make them happy.....
Rajesh, I am sure you're not the only one to experience that. Happy New Year to you and your family too.
I, what??
IWOBM, thanks for adding your thoughts as well. Points to ponder.
Mahadevan Sir, thank you. I was definitely thinking about Shatrugan Sinha while typing the post. And Sahadevan Mahadevan is a popular tamil movie as well.
MT, I would never have had the guts to mention TV. Its like beauty pageants mentioning acting as their post-pageant hobby.
Anon, I don't remember that incident though. Thanks, that would make Rajesh happy.
AP, am glad I mentioned about my limited knowledge. I definitely didn't know that.
Sudhakar, I always accept my mistakes. Thats the justification I use for committing them.;-)
Anon2, too much I say. I am blushing.:-)
Ashok, thank you. Hope you're having a great year.
Akay and Ragavan, thanks for enlightening me. So its decided Shatrugna is an also-runner.
Me, epdi correct a kandu pidiccha?

1:54 PM  
Blogger iamyuva said...

acceptance plays big part in any one's life. kids or adult. fit-in matter for all of us. may be- we are molded to be that way.

unlike today(or aboard)- while we were growing up different approach is not always accepted. and fear of being alone made us do what we did.

today(in india & elsewhere)- difference is highlighted as options. not always you are judged on that. even if you are, then atleast you might have enough support systems(internet, understanding urban parents then in the past,..)

11:23 AM  

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