Today I got to chat with a cousin who was like a best friend growing up. She is just a couple of years older than me but on those occasions when we met we never ran out of things to talk about. We often stayed up all night discussing everything under the sun. I haven't seen her since 1996. But we reconnected on Facebook today.
Through a whole lot of small talk, when I got around to asking her about how other relatives of ours, who live in her city, were doing she said something that carries echoes and reverberations for me. She said that she really wasn't in touch with anyone else. She said, "Main bhi sab ki tarah shayad khud hi mein simat gayi hoon". That's not easy for me to translate literally for non-Hindi speakers but it hints at the broad and all-encompassing nature of isolation that we all feel at some level these days.
It is sad to me, this isolation phenomenon, even as I too exhibit signs and symptoms of it. I never pick up the phone to call anyone if I can help it, I am extremely telephone averse. Even in the world of online chatting I am least inclined to take the initiative to greet someone unless I am absolutely certain about reciprocation. I feel that if I greet someone it should yield a conversation, if it doesn't it leaves bad vibes and niggling, circulating thoughts of rejection; lack of reciprocation being one of my pet peeves. So a superficial, unadmired and unwanted part of my self prefers a state of protected self-containment.
What's ironical is that this is not my preferred state. There is a gregarious conversationalist who likes to talk, listen, laugh and trigger laughs, who is trapped within these solipsistic walls of skin and bone. In fact I've never been able to heal this rift within. When I look back at my childhood and early youth (because the present times would be my late youth - no doubt!), I was gregarious, and was often called witty and funny when I was in familiar and safe surroundings but I don't recall a single day of going to school, or work in later years, where I was free of fear and anxiety. I was scared of my teachers, my classmates, bad bosses, I never said a word in class, I never asked any questions, I never raised my hand. I tried to render myself as invisible as possible, all the while wishing that this wasn't so, wishing that I could be the same person I was at home. Things eventually changed quite a bit, with some conscious effort, but I am still not the one resolved entity who is the person I like, who is trapped within.
But it is this person who answered my cousin in these words, "Mujhe to bahot curiosity hai sab ke bare mein. Kaash itna time hota ki
India mein sab se mil pati, sab ko hamesha apne dayare mein rakh pati."
I want to know about every cousin, every uncle, every aunt, every old classmate, every friend I've ever had. I never want to lose sight of anyone I care/cared about. That's why I will never fall out of love with social networks. I am puzzled and confused by people who don't find it worth their while to keep a permanent connection going with everyone they've ever known. I am not capable of understanding it. I am the one person who means it when she says, "stay in touch", after a gathering or congregation of like-minded souls and perhaps the only one saddened by the inevitability of falling out of touch.
Well, the conversation with my cousin was one of the highlights of the day. Nothing happened as I had planned last night, none of the things I talked about in "Solipsism - 5" came true. The violin will still happen but the cooking, the baking or the tennis didn't happen since the baby of the family decided that she would rather spend the day with a friend. She went to the mall and came back looking like this:
What can I say! The person trapped inside her is a Hernando, sadly!
Hernando's parents spent the day driving around listening to the music collection on my iPod and browsing at Target where Anil wanted to find an ottoman that would fit with ease within my workspace for the times when he wants to sit next to me while I work. We found a good one at Target. When he is not sitting on it, I can use it to elevate my legs for ideal blood circulation while working.
On the car ride back we were making random lists. He made a list of women on screen who have epitomized the beauty ideal for him over the years. It is a pretty unusual selection:
2) Jennifer Connelly
3) Tanuja - only in that one 3 minute long song from Jewel Thief. He says she had a very chipmunk-y face in most movies but in that one song she was magical.
4) Olivia Newton John
5) Believe it or not - Meenakshi Seshadri
He has apparently spotted something divine in all these faces.
It was my turn, and my preferences were based on the feelings that each one inspired early on, during a single viewing:
1) The actor who had a lead role in the movie Love Bug - Dean Jones. When I saw the movie at the age of 13 or 14, he epitomized America for my America-addled brain. I could have watched the movie a million times.
2) Bill Murray in his role in the movie Razor's Edge.
3) The idea of Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind.
4) Michael Douglas in anything.
5) Robert Downey Jr., in anything, these days.
No Clooneys or Pitts on my list, they aren't bad but they are too universally admired for my tastes.
Next, he started a list of a single most admired trait in anyone on screen and came up with the way Madeline Kahn giggled in all those glorious comedies and Jack Lemmon's nervous laugh. I thought it was an interesting list to compile, I agreed with his choices. I had never given much thought to a compilation of this nature but I would go with the following:
1) Jack Nicholson's character and how he let his misogyny get tortured out of him in the movie, "As Good As It Gets". As a woman I should hate this scene, but I loved how he delivered it:
2) Also, loved the special ironic style Gene Wilder displayed in all his movies, especially this one, "Fuzzy Wuzzy was a woman?" - I never stopped laughing during this movie:
3) Alec Baldwin in 30 Rock, on SNL, even the Capital One commercials.
And tonight the list making will continue now that we're bitten by the bug...