Monday, June 21, 2010

Crisis, crisis!

As I sit in a cafĂ© reading ‘English August’, I come across this line in one of the initial pages. “A bureaucrat ought to be soft and clean shaven… and if a Tamil Brahmin, given to rapid quoting of rules.”

It sets me thinking.

How stereo typical is the typical Tam Brahm?

Curd rice loving, non smoking-teetotaler-vegetarian? Curd rice loving, feigning to be non smoking-teetotaler-vegetarian? Non Tam speaking pseudo English wannabe? Docile, soft spoken, hard working, bespectacled dead bore?

Keeper of clean houses, drawer of kolams, chanter of Upanishads, analyst of the Gita, upholder of Sanskrit & Sanskriti, lover of the city of Chennai and its temples?

However, before we get on with that list, I have to rephrase my question. How stereo typed is the typical Tam Brahm? Quite a bit, in my opinion. I would know, for I happen to be one too, but of the other variety – the variety that does not fit in with anyone’s idea of that “ideal” Tam Brahm they pride themselves in knowing.

It is funny to see the reactions on people’s faces when they realize that I actually am a Tam Brahm. The expressions range from surprise to shock to disbelief. Maybe they expect to see someone else, some image in their mind that the real me does not conform to. I feel gravely apologetic during such occasions, sometimes ashamed, for not being able to live up to that conjured up picture of who I should have existed as.

Nevertheless, I can live with it; perhaps even enjoy all the unwarranted attention I get.

The genuine trouble I have lies elsewhere.

I am scared of the fact that I parade the face of this Earth without an identity, especially one that I am supposed to have. For instance, how would it be if, one morning, you walked in to history class, only to be rebuked for not looking retro and archaic enough to fit in there? Scary. No?

I suddenly feel the urge to ask myself the indispensable “Who am I” question.

Even before I attempt to introspect, I am rudely jolted out of the trance by other more pressing issues. For, there are malls to visit, clean houses to set up and pigs to observe. And, when all that is done, the beautiful Worli sea face to drink in. So, I park that absolutely non crucial issue for now, and get on with my questionable, stereo typed life.