Terence D’Costa is a dear friend and a top notch creative in the Himalayas!
WHOSE RHETORIC IS IT ANYWAY?
Interesting how greetings have evolved with time from a genuinely enquiring “how are you” to the mandatorily flippant “sup”. Movement from interest in the person per se, to interest in the person’s world has been gradual but definite. Having realized that our social interactions rest more on the eventful world we live in, we delicately moved on from “how are you” to “how’s life” and from there, on to “how are things”. And if that wasn’t enough we’ve taken our love of things even further. After all, we did need to focus a bit more on those that may be of interest to us. So we came up with “what’s new”. Which made room for the “sup” greeting – just to cater to the present and keep things hip and simple. We’ve now relegated the “how are you” for the most infrequent and formal interactions and ‘wassup’ (read ‘waddup’ if you will) for our most repetitive ones. And if you’ve begun to imagine that this is entirely an occidental aberration with no relevance to the vernacular, don’t. Far from the spiritual goodness of “namaste”, look at the current movement from “sanchai?” (a positively wishful step warmer than the comparatively objective ‘how are you’ enquiry) to “ke chha” (a blood brother of the ‘sup). Now, that’s more than a linguistic coincidence.
There are two fundamental learnings from this slice of evolution in the way we communicate. One, we’re driven to move on and evolve with time. Two, people no longer matter to us as much as things do. The former is neither news nor cause for concern. But the latter is what advertising feeds off, thrives on and keeps folks like you and yours truly, busy.
Advertising is a son of a two-faced itch. No typos there. Greed on one side versus the Conscience on the other. Given greed, wants obfuscate needs. Given the conscience, we gladly compensate. Irresistibly packaged materialism may send us barking up a wanton tree but it takes a crucial opposite to blind and numb us on the way there. That crucial opposite is the other face – played up in the form of a memorably cute commercial or aesthetic artwork. The crucial opposite awakens innate knowledge and appreciation of the fuzzy warm things in life. All ‘things that ought to matter’ and ‘all that should be’. And it is this face that dazzles us into forgetfulness. A spoonful of that and the bar graphs go up. And as they do, we adjust and accommodate ourselves to an updated version of thraldom. Seven point oh, nine point no, who cares? Bondage isn’t necessarily a bad thing because we’re all in on the same boat. Spellbound subjects of a heady mix of wealth, power, strategy, innovation, art and the unequivocal voice of approval we know as the media, we blissfully refer to the nodding other to make sense of it all. And so we shuffle on, thus evolving.
Knowing the above should evoke one of two responses. One, shrug and look the other way. Two, learn to laugh at yourself. As for me, I’m just responding to a ‘sup.