Thursday, August 25, 2011

La Tomatina and Third World guilt.

Someone on Facebook posted a link about a ‘La Tomatina’ festival in Bangalore, of all places. This is, of course, a regrettable fallout of the move Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, which I enjoyed enough to watch twice; and not only because I think Farhaan Akhtar is HOT. But honestly, they filmed the scene in Spain (I think. Unless there really are that many white people hanging around film sets in India.) and to that extent it’s not inappropriate; as I assume no little Spanish children were dying of starvation in the vicinity of the actors (Including the delicious Akhtar) as they frolicked among tomatoes. I still wasn’t comfortable with the scene but one cannot carry one’s local prejudices around like baggage, can one? So I relaxed and just watched the movie.

Hosting one such thing HERE of course is a totally different thing and wildly inappropriate. I’m sure you see why but I’ll tell you anyway, because I’m writing after a long time and fancy a good vent.

People DIE here, because they have nothing to eat, all the time. There’s just something so decadently Marie Antoinettish about it: “If we don’t have bathwater let’s use thousands of fairly expensive vegetables instead.”

Food fights are a staple in a certain kind of Hollywood movie, and they’re welcome to them. What galls me is that some dumbass Hindi movies have started copying it; ignoring the cultural context I’ve just rather unnecessarily elaborated above. They’ll rarely pick up on some of the better values that these movies expound, like holding doors open for people, smiling at passersby, or thanking the waitresses. But FOOD FIGHTS? Oh yes, let’s do what these pretty people do, right after we’ve rubbed in the 4 pm application of our preferred brand of whitening cream.

Unfortunately this has percolated to one of our everyday practices as well. Birthday cakes. Where 10 years ago everyone would very soberly eat their slice of birthday cake, poke around for crumbs, wish the relevant person “Many Happy Returns of the Day”(always in Capitals) before heading off to the basin to wash out their mouths with water; we Indians will now pick up chunks of perfectly edible cake and smear it over the person’s face, in aid of God knows what purpose, and laugh hysterically like this is not the most appallingly wasteful thing to do with expensive cake; and not gross to boot.

In the interests of honesty I should confess, that unlike many conscientious people here I can get a little wasteful with food. If I can’t finish the food on my plate in a restaurant, I don’t have a nervous breakdown wondering what I should do with it. I do let the waiter clear it away. We have on occasion, allowed food to acquire a rare maturity in the fridge and then thrown it out. It is never done with a clear conscience, but it has happened. Normally if there’s food (untouched) we know we’ll never eat we give it to our cleaning lady, who accepts it with a pathetic eagerness that always sends a lance of guilt through my heart. Imagine then if instead we decided to stockpile the lot, call a few friends over and fling it around at each other? How grotesque would THAT be?

I hear that the organizers say the festival will use inedible tomatoes. Whatever that means. It would be better still to just wait for Holi to come around and use our usual toxic colored powders that make people break out in a rash, and land some others in the hospital with temporary blindness.

Atleast you’ll know it’s so poisonous people would be better off not eating it. You're actually doing them a favour. And you can treat your chemical burns with a clear conscience. And a clear conscience is far more valuable than frolicking with a 1000 barechested Farhaan Akhtaars as they rub squashy tomatoes all over you.

...I walked all over my point, didn't I?

Time to watch the movie a third time, methinks.


Chandrima Roy said...

So true! Wish this write up appeared on newspapers, e-magazines etc. The mindless organisers may have given it a second thought whether or not they'd host this inconsequential (in the Indian context)event.

Well written as usual! :)

Ushasi said...