Everything does pass, and we can endure and we can survive!! – Rahul Dravid
Many people in India like to boast about how many friends they have in high places. Out here, it is considered part of an ordinary conversation. It usually is not someone whose number they have on their mobile phones or someone who is on their Facebook. It is an effort to garner attention and prove that he/ she can exert a certain amount of influence on the concerned celebrity/ highly placed friend, no matter how small it may be.
The influencer is usually a friend of a friend of a friend or a very distant relative. I don’t understand this fascination of relating oneself to someone who you don’t even know just because they hold a certain post or are well known. If someone mentions that they know an IAS officer, the others in the group look upto him with a sense of respect. The guy enjoys the respect and flashes a big smile. I get irritated when I see such people. People who really have influencing friends usually keep quiet or mention it as part of a subtler conversation. They don’t go public with it.
An auto driver who took me to Central told me that he was Kutraaleeswaran’s classmate. He went on to say that it was he who had initiated Kutraaleeswaran into swimming! That also ok. May be he really did, how do we know? “Naan mattum nenechurundha, avan alavukku periya aalaa vandhuruppen. Ippo kooda avan solluvaan.” I had to laugh at this point and he kept quiet after that. Kekaravan kenayanaa irundhaa enna venumnaalum sollalaam pola irukku.
There was this girl who prided herself to be from the same school as Priyanka Chopra. Absolutely fine. But when she said that Priyanka would recognize and come running to her if just she sees her once, I knew it was a big lie she threw in the conversation. She very well knows I have no hopes of meeting Priyanka. So enna venumna alakkalaam.
There was this guy who claimed to have been a very close friend of Mani Ratnam. “He won’t remember me now ofcourse”, he says making sure that we can’t ask him further questions. Many people have come and told me that they know Chinmayi. When I tell them that I am from Hindu school too, they are taken aback and are more cautious about the rest of the story. They either cut the long story short or tell me about how they have just seen her performing on stage. And then they ask if I know her. So that they can tell someone that they know someone who knows Chinmanyi!
This characteristic is not associated to just youngsters or the less educated. A middle aged man who I met on a train claimed to be Raghuvaran’s cousin and hence knew Rajnikanth personally! Now Raghuvaran himself, in his many interviews has not claimed to know Rajni personally! But this Raghuvaran’s cousin claims to do so! Many old men claim to be associated with accomplished writers or musicians like Cho, Vaali or T N Krishnan. “Naan Srirangathu la irukarche paakathu veedu dhaan” they will say and you just have to nod your head because talking back is considered disrespect.
One doctor actually had a picture of Amitabh Bachchan falling at his mother’s feet in his house. Now if Amitabh was really a close friend, he wouldn’t have put up that picture in his hall right?
If all this is not enough, there are people who claim they know God and visit Him every other night. Alli vidarthukku oru alavu illaya da? The fake godmen of our country are just an extension of this characteristic and the fake prophets just an extension of these fake godmen.
All this is just a make believe world. Most of them want to know these celebrities up close and personal. But they actually don’t. So they fake it. It is what we call in tamil as poli gauravam – faked honour. When someone tells such things to me, I very often consider this as one of the many lies they are going to tell me in future. What would they get out of this fantasized world that they have created? Is it an easy way of bridging the divide between where they are and where they want to be?
These imaginary worlds are like the prodigal Mirror of Erised. They give us neither truth nor knowledge. It makes people waste away in front of it. It has even driven many people mad.
Thank goodness, my friends are ordinary people who like to lead a life filled with normalcy. And when I take a deviation to the Mirror of Erised, they zap me back to reality and keep my feet grounded.