Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Paradigm shift

I was wandering in CP, looking for the next metro exit when I saw a gathering of people. The moment my eyes lifted from their feet up to their shoulders, the Starbucks logo in green, surrounded by more green lights left me in a state of surprise and mischief. I almost pied-piperly scurried towards the sign and stood there, not understanding much. In front of me, some guy was announcing how truly Indian this Starbucks shop was going to be. Behind in the crowd, a drunk beggar was mimicking him to our delight. A layer behind, hawkers had set shop, selling balloons and cheap coffee.
All of us were just standing there, mocking for a second, wanting to go inside another - what they call a spectacle. I couldn't decide how to feel about the inauguration of a coffee shop. I wanted to laugh but I wanted to go in. I felt guilty, foolish, elated and the sense of having arrived. To draw a Rushdie analogy, I knew no child born after this moment was going to escape Starbucks in her language. Imaginary crackers lit up the sky in my head after having experienced a moment of collective history making. I know, dramatic.

This reminded me of my mother. One day I found her box of old toys; wooden blocks, wooden train set, tops and Vicks puzzle pieces. Yes, the Vicks medication brand. Each puzzle piece had four 'cough' demon faces. The evil creature that is supposed to represent phlegm in red, blue, green and yellow. I was so amused and dead sure that no one else would have this puzzle set. Mother said she got it from Santa Claus as a kid. She told me how, back in her days Santa Claus gave actual gifts in toy stores. She also got a Coke top. I couldn't fully imagine everything but in that moment I knew that this moment defined her as a person. That was her time.
Volker Schlondorff made a short film for the omnibus "10 minutes older". It was called Enlightenment. The film really changed the way I thought of time and also fed into what I believed as personal time. Basically, it seems to me, that in the act of living and in the things we consume we inhabit a time. Though we keep changing all the time, at some point we get fixed in time. We stubbornly use X over Y (also known as nostalgia) and sometimes we celebrate A over B (a function of our modern time over the past time that someone older than us inhabits). My Starbucks moment was this precise encounter with my moment, rather the end of it. It was like reaching the horizons of my time or a break. Some day, years from now I will be telling a baby that there were no Starbucks in this city and that people gathered to see the first one open. Much like how electricity, telephone, the first car, mall and so many more landmark moments just like my mother's Santa Claus and Vicks puzzle.
I am really struggling to pen this but I hope you get what I am saying.

1 comment:

Ronin said...

Nicely written. You've gotten better over the years.