Yesterday I had a friend of mine visiting me from Pune on the weekend. After a week of data analysis at office we thought of spending a weekend roaming the streets of Mumbai, initially in search of some gaming zones- that landed us to ‘Smaash’ (which turned out to be a disappointment) – and ultimately ending our quest in the hot and humid climate of a summer afternoon in the powerfully air-conditioned walls of Palladium. The Social there serves some exquisite dishes; my personal favourite being the ‘Mac n Cheese’ pasta and ‘Death Wings’. The ambience is what I call a ‘D.P updatable’ as one can always find someone posing for the gallery, which would later be “transformed and evolved” into different display pictures using the myriad filters that a smartphone provides today.
After having the sumptuous lunch, my friend suggested that we go to see the famed Marine Drive and the Girgaum Chowpatty beach. New in the city myself, I had never been to the beach (The last time we had a night out at the Marine Drive, the beach was closed before we arrived).
So we headed towards the beach to savour the sunset scenery. Owing to my previous jobs and education at different places, I have had the opportunities to visit some amazing beaches of the country. There’s the grandeur of the cliffed coast of the Varkala and the Kovalam beach of Kerala, the sporty and serene beaches of Calangute, Baga and other beaches of Goa, the golden beach of Puri or the solitary beach of Chandrabaga in Konark; every beach possesses a unique charm. There’s an inexplicable calmness that comes to a human mind just by listening to the wave, sitting at its perimeter. So needless to say, the Girgaum Chowpatty beach also has its own flavours. As we sat on the cool sands on a searing evening, I could see the hypnotism it hides. Right at the heart of the country’s busiest city, it gives you a moment to lay idly, away from the city ruckus, while overlooking the beautiful city sea face. Given the weekend, it was but obvious that the place was full of people, coming out to have a breather from their daily race of life. But there I noticed something odd.
Even in that idyllic moment, there still was a race going on: a race to fill up one’s gallery with the prettiest picture; a quest to find that right selfie pose which would cover the most of the things in the background and hence make a good ‘hashtag’. The only time people turned to actually see the immense vastness of the sea beyond them was to check if the background was not hindered by any obstruction while they clicked the pic. Immediately a lecture from a B-School course struck me where the professor discussed how the main purpose of the social media for us was to alleviate our social failures. Quite true to the lecture, everyone was busy doing just that- trying to prove to their distant friends on the other side of the internet that they were indeed having a great time, rather than just having it.
I have always been interested in understanding non-verbal communication because as they happen involuntarily, one cannot fake it. This is however not true with the verbal communications and expressions that are voluntary- like our smile. I encourage you to do a simple experiment:
Open your Instagram account and look closely to those smiling pictures. You would notice that while the lips smile, there is seldom happiness in the eyes of the concerned person. And you would know this is a pic meant to show happiness to the world, irrespective if the person is actually feeling happy or not. And the sad part is, the more you look into the pictures nowadays, more of these ‘happy’ pictures would you find. In the quest of looking our happiest best, we are fast forgetting how to actually be happy in reality. Everyone is wearing a mask, filtered further by some play store app to emulate happiness.
So there they were. People trying endlessly to get that “D.P Updatable” ambience.
(It’s not a surprising thing that successful food destinations like Social pays attention to itself being a “selfie-worthy” place just as much as its food or beverage quality.) One can’t help but think that something is definitely not right with our generation.
But as we sat on the beach, wondering about things and checking our “whatsapp” from time to time (for, we too are the fallible part of this generation, right?), a bunch of kids came running around us. Apparently, they were playing the tag game (or ‘pakdum pakdai’ as we know it in India). These bunch of kids were drenched and running barefoot on the cold sand, enjoying their moment. I looked around and saw some of them busy making their biggest possible sand forts and tunnels while the other bunch carrying a bucket with them, bringing in the wet sand from near the sea. Totally unfazed by the tension of clicking a picture of what they are doing, they were different. They were actually enjoying. They were actually happy.
I realised that it’s not the adults who are always only in the position to teach the kids something. Sometimes it the kids who can teach us so many things. And then as the sun started to retire after a long hot day, we sat there enjoying the view, doing absolutely nothing and listening to the waves and finally being a party to the most fun thing around- Making our forts, not for the gallery, but for the memory.
(P.S- We, however, did take a picture of our insular township, after we were done and just before a wave washed it away)