March 15, 2009
In this modern and fast-Westernising world we are fast losing our traditional moorings.
Our traditions and practices are known to our grandparents, but we have foolishly neglected to learn them as well. My generation no longer knows how to tie the veshti or the dhoti, leading to a huge loss of manliness. The Urdu language’s vocabulary is being decimated as Bollywood lyricists turn from ‘more saajan hain us paar’ to such bastardised creations as ‘you’re my mind blowing mahiya’. Homemade gaajar ka halwa is being replaced by an MTR packet. When ranting thathas rant, they have a point. We have a valuable cultural corpus, and we are losing it.
However, in the specific aspect of Punjabi culture that is toothless old aunties tunelessly singing folk songs at weddings, I think we can all agree that it’s really for the best.
November 22, 2007
One of the disadvantages of making a quiz is that the people who’ll attend my quiz tend to also read my blog. So, you can’t link to really awesome stuff you find because it’ll tip them off to your questions, or at least the source of your questions.
One such awesome thing which I can reveal now that the quiz is done is a blog called Round Dice. There’re very few posts, and the author stopped blogging altogether this February, but all the posts there are most awesome.
Posts from this blog which eventually became questions include one on kolams, one on the tribhanga pose, and one on Bhaskaracharya’s Lilavati. The tribhanga post is especially awesome, because it manages to link Chalukya sculpture to structural engineering, the Vitruvian man, and Anna Nicole Smith. Read.
There was also one post which didn’t really have any question-worthy funda, but which I particularly liked. It’s on the difference between being traditional and being conservative:
As I see it, a traditionalist is someone who uses the past in his/her daily life. For a traditionalist, the past is neither dead nor inaccessible. If a particular tradition no longer works — slavery or foot-binding or burning widows — it is modified to make a new tradition. The modification is usually a series of minor changes: a sari may be exchanged for a salwar, a particular dish may no longer be cooked, a man may go to Lamaze class, a Bollywood movie may include a gay character, etc.
In contrast, a conservative’s relationship is not with the past, but with the future. The conservative does not love the past as much as he fears the future. The Shiv Sainiks flip out on Valentine’s day not because Urvashi never sent a “I heart you” to Pururava (she did), but because their version of the future only permits docile women. The actual past is quite irrelevant for a conservative.