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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Rage of Community Nights among Indians

A fever has gripped Indian middle class families: community nights. These are festivals which are conducted within apartment facilities: Bengali get-together, Gujarati Dandia nights, Marathi Ganpati festivals, Assamese Bihu Sammelan, Bengali Saraswati puja, Telugu Sanskriti Sammelan. They are all the rage among apartment dwellers in both India and among NRIs.

What are the defining characteristics? They are fairly common across all communities: Things begin within general chit-chat followed by a cultural program for toddlers. The married men are the most active now; they fall over one another to capture their child’s act using their handycam brought in an overseas software project related trip. Others can’t see much of the show since their views are blocked by these hyper-active fathers. There’s hardly anything worth seeing anyways, but this is usually the only time you hear the community language on stage.

The mothers are all heavily decked up in the latest fashion inspired by Saas-Bahu serials: after all, such events are especially meant to give total limelight to the mothers in their 30s. They have a ball, especially if they are homemakers. An alien observer would get an impression that these thirty-something mothers are the main organizers by their general busy involved looks; but no; the main organizers are the "bachelors" of the community. These bachelors are the most silly-looking in such gatherings: they are expected to sacrifice their lives if need be to ensure a good night, but are generally unable to take part in any of the fun events in the festival. These poor bachelors soon feel uneasy in the company of hyperactive fathers and mothers, but have to put up a very interested look. Also, they usually can’t find any partner or anyone to lech since couples in their 30s typically are the home-owners in these apartments with few single young women around.

The kid’s cultural program is followed by a buffet meal. The bachelors often get blamed about the meal quality. After the dinner, begins the dance party to Himesh and other remix beats. Typically the community language loses priority at this stage to Hindi music. Mostly homemakers and a few enthusiastic bald fathers join the dance which is typically Dandia irrespective of the community. Bachelors are on the fringe, some form a dance group of their own. Must have songs: Punjabi tune from Rang de Basanti, with Kajra re giving the orgasm to our thirty-something aged couples at the end. Dumb-charades and Antakshari on Hindi films always follow as the crowd starts reducing.

Community nights are great: they give an extra-curricular vent to homemakers, justify the purchase of a handycam, give bachelors some importance despite their evolutionary insignificance, and allows for the community to declare their loud existence to other non-community members in the apartment. Only problem: These nights don’t come cheap with costs of Rs200 per head. It is also almost impossible to abstain from these orgies because of social implications. But who cares in booming middle class India? You are happy and We know it, raise your hand.

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