Humour: Five festive indulgences
The annual card party, where at least two players end up hating each other forever, was cancelled. The long-planned holiday with people you’re not sure what you really feel about was finally called off. And the much-awaited Diwali blockbuster, enjoyed with edamame momos and chocolate eclairs, feels as distant as the ’83 World Cup win. But there’s still hope. Sample these indulgences tailor-made for our austere times.
Iron Man returns
A few mornings ago, I did something that involved smouldering coals, which triggered intense feelings of nostalgia, guilt and satisfaction all at once. Handing clothes to the istriwala after several months of holding out is an underrated pleasure. Even if you have nowhere to go and nothing to do, just the idea of a cupboard full of crisply-ironed clothes is positively decadent after months of crinkles and creases. Learning to live with isolation, ennui and anxiety is a long-term goal that requires all the help one can get. From personal experience, it is thoroughly empowering to address these existential issues while dressed in neatly-ironed clothes. There will be time for a hippie disregard for neatness. Now’s the time to warm the heart with clothes hot off the press.
If there’s something I miss about the ’90s – other than every damn thing from Nataraj pencils to Indipop – it’s those post-dinner drives for ice cream and/or paan, dressed in pyjamas. Crowding around a food outlet is not the best idea at the moment, but the drive part is easily achievable. A chronic socialiser, festive meet-ups with family and friends are what I’m missing most. But night-time drives around the lit-up city, catching a conspiring cat here or a non-Covid-related billboard there, have a bittersweet charm. For best results, wrap a housecoat around your (ironed) clothes for that wistful effect.
Out of character
Try something new. It can be your revenge against the unprecedented year. And think beyond a change of hairstyle. No, seriously. Why is it that our collective imagination is limited to purple highlights or a short buzz whenever the need for radical change arises? Instead, sign up for a fantasy-writing workshop and fight the surrealist year with magic realism. Better still, learn how to make veg sushi – a bold yet thankless task, that will no doubt teach you something about something. Dare to post unfiltered Instagram posts without hashtags – and don’t give a damn when no one likes them. Smile under your mask and see if anyone can tell. These small acts of rebellion will go a long way. Towards what, it doesn’t really matter.
Watch what you watch
There’s never been a worse time to be alive. But it’s the best time to be a TV viewer. Which somehow proves TV viewers are not alive, but let’s gently sidestep that disturbing deduction. As a fainthearted viewer who can’t stomach the Emmy-winning dystopias that the last decade has peddled, I’ve happily retreated into the prurience of Sex Education and the conviviality of Kim’s Convenience. The Trial of the Chicago 7 fixes the world with repartee, which I thoroughly approve of, while The Queen’s Gambit, with its controlled drama, is the perfect binge for the season. I promise to return to the verbose Scam 1992, if only to be transported back to a decade that haunts me with its relative simplicity.
All hail the cult of productivity, which demands efficiency even of downtime. I’m fully expecting bestselling titles on how to yawn right for the optimum lazing experience, or how to mindfully procrastinate, in the near future. How wonderful, instead, to be a ceiling starer or thought gatherer, intermittent napper or bubblewrap popper, and not care about how it contributes to one’s well-being, growth or employability. The season demands that fun be had. But it is deliciously subversive to dismiss the brief – the expectation to maximise one’s leisure time – and do exactly what we need to keep ourselves going on the relentless treadmill of this unforgiving year.
Wish you all a safe and bright Diwali weekend. Be the light, not the smoke.
The views expressed by the columnist are personal
From HT Brunch, November 15, 2020
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