Sunday, March 22, 2009

Dilentantism Mumbai style: a butterfly before u are caterpillar

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It is a good or a bad thing I don't know. But as far as any commitment goes, the citizens can be really guilty of diletanttism. My kid goes for dance classes and she is a dance freak. She tells me that in a class of 11 or so, only one to three persons may be hardcore followers of that particular dance style. Otherwise, u have dance `teachers', some nowhere graceful, who actually finish one level and go on to teach that style! So, they sort of mix and match and create some pop sort of dance and give it a classical name, and lo, there are people who actually pay money to learn that! Since such diletantte stuff can be cheap, Mumbaikars are so happy they got themselves a bargain. This is true of such difficult styles like salsa, krumping or belly dance.

Why this city is particularly cursed that way, is beyond me! I started Kick-boxing four-five months ago. Now I am so hooked that I am hiring my trainer as a private instructor to learn it far more deeply. And the reason I don't want to do it in a general class is because I realise most others are just floating about, not really serious about kick-boxing! What draws them to it is a big, BIG mystery to me! I find being in the same space with such learners constricts my own learning... I can see that while I was in kick-boxing class, every month one young thing will pay a month's fee, learn to frisk wrists, then leave. Most of them were my yoga students, much to my dismay, since it bothers me that people can be so shallow, that even while signing up, they have committed to only one month (of kick-boxing) I mean.

Similarly I have been learning music for the last three years, from a classically trained, highly talented teacher. She is not a music teacher by profession, obviously because there is no money to be made that way: thanks to diletante waywardness of this city. In my music class, I keep revisiting old bhajans, so that I can correct my mistakes. I insist on this though my music teacher wishes to teach me something new. But I hear from my music teacher that this is different from what she normally (and frustratingly no doubt) encounters from some other old aunties (who used to bargain and not pay her Rs 25 per session): they used to insist that she teach them new songs even though they had not perfected the old ones!! They think they are learning???!!! With my music teacher also, due to this sort of nonsensical participation from others, I take private classes. I find it terribly frustrating to be spending time with people (learners) who pretend to be learning and those who have low commitment quotient. It is bad enough I deal with that while teaching yoga!
This same sort of `disloyalty' to commitment to learning something full-fledged is what powers this city commercially perhaps. U can set up shop and hope to steal your neighbour's customers. Malls are brain-wracking to find how they can hold on to their footfalls! This city loves motion, and that means they will not commit!! Brands, exercise styles, sports styles, clothes styles (real mismatch, mix-match that is boldly Bombay, you won't find elsewhere), boyfriends, mobile phones, mobile phone numbers, caller tunes -- they want CHANGE!!

It is its strength. This dilentantism.... But perhaps it can be its weakness too... as its commitment to causes are also so vague and vapid... But you cannot say that to a hardcore Mumbaikar...for whom the only thing that is constant is change... Cliched, but true.My prayer? Maybe that will change, too, someday:)

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