Friday, July 12, 2013

Am I, also, a fake like Sri Kumaré?

It is a good thing the daughter is so insanely busy that she practically has no spare time at all--she doesn't know, therefore, that I am yet to watch Skyfall, which was her birthday gift to me.  (Female stalkers: I ain't telling you my date of birth!)  What a tragedy that a James Bond movie does not get me all pumped up anymore; damn this aging!

But, I have put her Christmas gift--the flat-screen TV--to fantastic use.  After a number of years, I have gotten back to watching offbeat movies.  You know, movies from strange countries with subtitles.  Especially  those French movies about which the daughter has some favorite stories to tell!

Without that TV gift, I would never have been triggered into re-activating my Netflix account and, therefore, I would not have watched Kumaré either, which I did quite a few weeks ago.  The NSA probably has detailed records on when I watched that and more!

One of the many stories that my great-aunt, who was a remarkable storyteller, narrated was about a thief who, in order to escape from the palace guards who were chasing him in the dark night, drapes himself in the saffron robes that monks wear and sits by the river as if he were meditating.

The thief falls asleep. Dawn breaks and he finds a couple of people at his feet, with offerings as well.  Worried that the guards might still be looking for him, the thief decides to be a monk for another day at that very spot.

A few more people come by and seek his blessings and advice. The morning after, there are more people.  He realizes that if as a fake he could draw so many people, then maybe there is something to being a real monk.  The thief rushes off to the forest and becomes a hermit.

Perhaps that old story was also the inspiration for R.K. Narayan's The Guide?  Who knows!  Anyway, Kumaré is, in a way, a re-telling of that old story.  A documentary in the English language, despite the accented é, which would have immediately reminded you about this blogger's invented last name as well, the difference in this re-telling is that, unlike the thief who heads to the forest, the guru comes clean and admits to his people that it is all a scam.

I worry that I live that fake life every single day.  A nagging concern that students, faculty, neighbors, friends, everybody will find out that I really mean it when I say I don't know.  The nightmare might one day become real.

But, aren't we all people pretending to be something that we are not, at least a good chunk of the time?  I remember Holly Hunter's character, in a movie that I watched many years ago, remarking that if people spoke honestly, truthfully, all the time, then there would be no friendships and no family reunions.

"How do I look in this dress, honey?" and "Daddy, did you watch me in the play?" don't always yield honest answers, do they?  We lie.  For a greater good, we convince ourselves.

We walk around with façades at home, at work, at the stores, and perhaps even when we are by ourselves.  If we are not cheating others, we are certainly very good at cheating our own selves.  At one end of that continuum of façades is the fakery of Kumaré, and the pretentious intellectual life that I lead.

Let's admit it--life is nothing but a big drama. And actors we are.  Take it away, oh wonderful bard 
All the world's a stage,
And all the men and women merely players:
They have their exits and their entrances;
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse's arms.
And then the whining school-boy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school. And then the lover,
Sighing like furnace, with a woeful ballad
Made to his mistress' eyebrow. Then a soldier,
Full of strange oaths and bearded like the pard,
Jealous in honour, sudden and quick in quarrel,
Seeking the bubble reputation
Even in the cannon's mouth. And then the justice,
In fair round belly with good capon lined,
With eyes severe and beard of formal cut,
Full of wise saws and modern instances;
And so he plays his part. The sixth age shifts
Into the lean and slipper'd pantaloon,
With spectacles on nose and pouch on side,
His youthful hose, well saved, a world too wide
For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice,
Turning again toward childish treble, pipes
And whistles in his sound. Last scene of all,
That ends this strange eventful history,
Is second childishness and mere oblivion,
Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.
I hope I can continue to fake it all the way and exit the stage well before I get to the "sans teeth, sans eyes, sans everything" scene.


Ramesh said...

Time to give you my periodic kick and chastise you for mentioning exiting the stage and all that crap.

Oh yeah - a little bit of lies is part of normal social behaviour and is harmless - after all, what else can you say to 'Honey, how do I look" and hope to come away in one piece ?

But broadly, broadly speaking, I don't think we are fakes. Certainly not you. You are what you say. Sure there is always something a little private - we don't want to exist in a glass case, but otherwise what you see is roughly what you get.

So stop this morbid thoughts and write a cheery post to make up :)

Sriram Khé said...

Kick all you want, buddy, but you can't separate me from my morbid thoughts ;)
I have grown up with those thoughts .... like I described in this post of mine, in the pre-Ramesh era!

And, that post was no fake!!!

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