*What you are about to read is a true story*
I'm cynical. And I usually believe the worst of people. I'm pessimistic. And sort of nihilistic. A moral nihilist. But still nihilistic. I have very little hope for anything. And can usually be counted upon to find fault with anything, usually vocally. If I care enough to do so.
Why am I this way? I wasn't always so. Why and when did I change? Well, we need to go way back for that.
You see, 12 years ago, I used to be fairly optimistic about life and the world as we know it. I had high hopes for myself and the human population. I believed we were all capable of great things; that when I grew up, all 6 billion of us would somehow work together to build that dream word - a world without without pain or hunger, where we'd all work hard, be happy and live dream lives. But then something bad happened to me. One single eye-opening event that tore apart the facade of hope and feel-goodness about the human race that I had enveloped myself with.
That event was a bus ride and a movie.
It all started during college. Junior college. I had come all the way to Mumbai from Muscat to complete my HSC. People here were fun, friendly, welcoming and loving. I got along well with everyone and generally liked the people here except for one small tiny nagging thing. It wasn't much really, but it kept popping up inconveniently every now and then. It was the fact that everyone here watched Bollywood films like mad.
Now don't get me wrong. 'Some' people back in Muscat loved Bollywood too. In fact, 'some' of the folks there were in many ways crazier about Bollywood than Indian residents, as many NRIs are wont to be. But I didn't mix in these circles. My friends were cooler that that, way more sophisticated than your average reminiscing NRI, or junior-college going Mumbaikar talking about the latest Hrithik Roshan release.
And talk about Hrithik Roshan they did, for this was back in 2000 AD, when the Roshan father-son combo came out with this over-hyped film called Kaho Na Pyaar Hai or something. I had always hated Bollywood films growing up. They represented everything that was wrong with the world. They were a celebration of crass un-artistic values that would only appeal to lesser humans, and this film to me was a culmination, a synthesis of all that, a living breathing entity that represented everything gone wrong with Bollywood and a society that would choose to worship it.
(Please bear with me here if you think I'm going off-topic, for this is all relevant. I'm getting to my point, just bear with me, please.)
So I hated this film more than anything in the whole world. And I hated that everyone else in Mumbai loved it. And I waited for my HSC year to end, so I could bid my new-found country bumpkin friends in Mumbai goodbye, and go back and chill with my ultra cool Muscat friends, who still lived in the land of the sane. We were the future, and the Bollywood lovers were dinosaurs headed for extinction.
So I took my HSC exams, traipsed back to Muscat for summer hols, and hooked up with old pals at the local Parish. The local church was organising a weekend trip out of town and a whole bunch of us signed up. A bus was organised for the 11 hour road trip. A 'TV bus'.
(NOW do you see where this is heading?)
So we all showed up at the church one fine morning with our duffel bags and Atari handheld gameboys or whatever beautiful crap we used to own back then and settled in. And our journey began. And the chaperone priest, who rightly thought that we needed some visual entertainment along the way, gave us a choice of films to watch.
The choice. The choice that changed my perception of humanity forever.
It seemed innocent enough. He held up two video cassettes and asked us which one we'd like to watch. One was that damned Roshan Hindi film, and the other was a popular Hollywood action film.
I didn't even know why he'd bother giving us a choice. We were all English speaking Catholic NRIs from upper middle class families and CBSE schools. Bollywood was an ugly thing, and had no place in our midst. I was so confident that the others in the bus would go for the Hollywood film that I didn't even bother speaking up. I just sat back and waited for the inevitable.
And you can guess what happened next, right?
They all voted for the K film. Yup. Yup yup yup. My first second of this experience was spent in shock. It was like being in a dream. A very bad dream. A very very very bad dream. But I knew this wasn't a dream. I knew it was real. And that just made it worse, for I knew I couldn't wake up from this.
The next few seconds were spent trying to salvage the situation by adding my vote to the mix, but that effort proved futile. My opinion was overwhelmingly rendered into oblivion by people I had assumed were of my ilk, and who now chose to tramp down on my notion of a brotherhood of higher cultural beings.
And so that was that. The People vs Daniel D'Mello. And the People won. These were supposed to be my people, and we were going to change the world together, to rid it of the backwardness and ignorance that manifested themselves in Bollywood films. But not anymore. Instead of joining with me, the youth of the so called 'progressive world' had chosen to celebrate the very symbol of backwardness that I believed we were destined to destroy.
Shattered, I sat back in my seat, my head spinning, collecting my thoughts and mulling over the bleakness that the rest of my wretched existence on this wretched planet was bound to be. For this was the turning point in my life. This is what made me who I am today - a meek beaten-down zombie made up of an empty shell, a husk with no centre, devoid of any vision, someone who has ceded hope, abdicated desire, relinquished expectation, and raised the white flag to the eventual decline of humanity.
I discovered alcohol soon after.
To this day, I bear no grudge against the Roshans. Were I to meet the not-so-dynamic father-son duo, I'd thank them for opening my eyes to the reality of human nature.