I confess. I am not on YouTube. I do not do videos cooking a mean idli/sambar combo or a torrid Cajun dish. I do not film myself playing chess, double bass, or the morsing, creating surreal flowers out of dough, or making greeting cards out of dried noodles. I do not give motivational talks and advise people to juggle a budget and stabilize shaky finances. I do not weave or stitch. When I thread a needle it is to mend a hole clumsily, not to embroider sweeping sand dunes on silk fabric. I do not bake from scratch, volunteer in six organizations, or organize birthday theme parties.
But everyone else is on YouTube, or so I am told. At parties, while folks around me speak excitedly about madly talented couple who cook up a storm, the niece who plays the sitar divinely, the sister-in-law who chants meditation mantras, the cousin who sings like Asha Bhosle, and don’t forget little Ashoo the toddler who plays the tabla at age three, I coo in approval. I clap delightedly at the antics of the four-year-old who has been filmed for posterity doing mathematical problems designed for high-schoolers. When, at a certain lull in the conversation, all eyes turn to me and as I am asked if any of my family is on a video online, I divert attention by dropping the expensive Belgian crystal glass I have been twisting in my hands like a dervish. By the time the hostess has turned in an Oscar-worthy performance of “My dear, it’s is perfectly all right, I can always get another set from that little darling shop tucked away in a village in Tuscany … and oh, you must see our travels in charming Tahiti on our blogs,” the conversation has veered into a discussion on the merits of Wedgewood versus Viennese platters. I munch contentedly on hot pakoras and sip more wine as people want to know if everyone else has read their blogs of hiking through the Andes, learning Balinese dance in Indonesia, dining in a remote Austrian village, and smashing plates in a tavern in Greece,
I do not blog. When I utter this statement shamefacedly, there is a pause. “But what else do you do?” is the unspoken question. After all, you are retired, is the silent accusation from hostile eyes all around. Every one of my accusers has a schedule to rival a candidate on a campaign.
I say that I have met Shirley Bassey, the sultry Welsh singer, got a bear hug from a Greek singer Demis Roussos, encountered cricket legend Sunil Gavaskar, got Olympian sprinter Jesse Owens to sign an autograph, and flown over Mount Everest in a tiny plane. There is a modicum of interest in the last adventure. ”Did you pilot the plane?” is the quick query. Evidently being just a passenger does not qualify.
I return home. I am not racked with guilt or regret. I remember Christiane Amanpour, in an interview with Oprah, stating with integrity, “It’s all about self-esteem. Knowing who I am, what I’m about, where I fit into the universe and feeling comfortable and good about myself.” I may not blog, tweet, or be on YouTube, but I remain engaged with LIFE.
Prem Kishore has been compelled by forces beyond her control to get onto Facebook.