I tend to listen to music when I write. In fact I am listening to landslide by Fleetwood Mack right now. It relaxes me. The gentle cool artificial breeze of the AC, the large noise cancelling headphones that was gifted to me by my aunt and some light Stevie Nicks music gives me the perfect incentive to write. Its common knowledge that one writes or does anything creative when he/she is at peace. Ironically the topic of this article is the dying of the adda culture or the days of socializing physically due to the preoccupation that one has. Large noise cancelling headphones cancel some sounds that we must hear thus cancelling a certain aspect of elation that we could have had, if we actually paid attention.
I know my views seem disdain and old fashioned. It’s difficult to imagine standing in long metro station queues or those boring summer vacations without your headphones and the Gbs of multi-genred music you have in them. The general notion is to remain preoccupied to kill time. The wondrous effects of music are legendary. From the fables stating that a meticulously sung raga can actually summon rain clouds to the actual miracle music therapy to cure autistic children, it is important to acknowledge that methodically arranged string of notes when played or sung, creates an aura of transience. So how can I possibly be against the prospect of you jamming to your favorite songs in your merry time? Well I am not. I am against the general distancing of human interactions because some people are too busy convoluted in their jam.
My college is somewhere which is absolutely opposite to where I actually belong from. A Bengali from Kolkata seldom visits his hometown when his college is in Patiala. You gradually adjust to the phenomenon of distance and live your life accordingly. However when I do go home, I dwell in the worlds of movies, music and the soccer e-game FIFA, effectively dismissing all complaints from my mother that I hardly communicate with her anymore. This world of superficial entertainment becomes my life and I believe that I am entitled to this because I am in a vacation, like the many summer vacations I had spent in my school days. The difference between now and then are many. It was natural for me to revel in those sorts of activities when I lived there permanently but the tables turn if you actually meet your parents once in every three months. The very institution of family lies in the beads of conversations. The little talks over dinner at the dinner table, the general disagreements over what to watch on the TV and various other small incidences add an endearing quality which holds a family together. The headphone culture is eating away into this institution and it is disconcerting.
Adda is a Bengali word which stands for the general activity of chatter and gossip. Its spontaneity and tangy demeanor makes it a favorite for many Bengalis all around the globe. A special type of it is the rock-er-adda which simply translated means an adda on the rocks. General friends meet up daily, sit on an elevated surface (maybe a giant rock) and talk about their happenings of the day. The topics are raunchy and unparliamentarily and the discussions are seamless and random. That is the beauty of an adda. However most of the people you find on those rocks nowadays are above the age of thirty. People my age, like to whatsapp and chat on Facebook. It’s fun, convenient and multi-faceted. The mere idea of talking to so many groups of people living anywhere, through the use of characters and colourful emojis is revolutionary and perfect. However these talks don’t usually involve talking at all. You might send a voice chat or a voice mail once in a while but you seldom don’t hear the voice of the person and you might just as well be chatting with an alter ego that the other had person created just because he wanted to be perceived as a ‘cool guy’. Identities are getting lost and people are deceived into believing that the number of virtual friends they have are the actual friends they possess. That is a mirage among the infinite mirages that the social media has thrown up.
Often in long journeys, I would sit beside the driver in the front seat of my car while my parents sat in the back seat talking. I had my earphones on and usually saw an episode of a sitcom on my ipod while my parents shared to their heart’s content. I never actually cared to listen. I think I should have listened, to know them better. I was too oblivious because I wanted to submerge myself in the scripted world of comedy than to share and understand two people who are the closest to me. This realization is dipped in melancholy but it has taught me to pay notice. The human essence, the warmth of touch, the remarkably distinct sounds that different people emit is what makes companionship great. Instead of drowning in the world of musical instruments or making virtual friends with computer coded graphics, it better if you sit back, take notice and just share, to make it more personal.