Sunday, June 16, 2013

Of Butter Chicken, Of Performances.... Of A Stereotypical World



"The secret impresses no one. The trick you use it for is everything." - The Prestige
We live in a world of stereotypes. Not just for different castes, regions or religions but for performers and professions as well. Being a magician the most common thing I get to hear is "Go on then, make my wife disappear" which is followed by the man (in some creepy cases woman) looking at me waiting for me to laugh along even though they're only the 2848687584867th person to say that to me.
The second most common thing I get to hear is, "What are you doing in my living room?" Though I doubt that has much to do with me being a magician.

Last five years, I've convinced myself living with the fact that I do not stereotype people or things unless I want to crack jokes on them. That was until last week when I attended the Saffola Masala Oats Foodathon (bloggers meet) event which had the celebrated chef Vikas Khanna attending. I heard Masterchef and my mind started stereotyping. Ham, Roast Meat, Cheddar Cheese and people in suits drinking rare wine started playing in my head. I got there and was served Tindas with Badaam Milk mixed with Oats. So much for wine and cheese. 
However it so happened that to my surprise, the tindas and the badaam milk turned out to be pretty good. More than the food and the drink what I couldn't help but notice was a completely new form of performances. Cooking. Vikas Khanna, stood on stage and spoke about food with love, cooked with love and charmingly distracted people from what he was doing with the food by putting on a show for them. His secret was talking, his talking was what was being used to cook and make people like me somehow like Tindas. The secret would impress no one. The trick he used it for was everything.

New areas of performances continue to arise, new stereotypes are born with them. True magic, lies in being different. If you're in a band, you're expected to be growling, playing hard rock or metal music and are expected to be in your late teens or in your early to mid twenties. It's not supposed to be your main profession and it's common knowledge that you smoke weed before going on stage. Being in a Sufi band is branded "uncool."
If you're a painter, you're expected to paint either portraits or sceneries of snow capped mountains, streams and the sun. If you're a stand up comedian in India and you don't crack sexist jokes or husband and wife jokes you're just a man standing on stage trying to talk and making unimpressed people laugh.
If you're a magician, you're expected to make things fly, make people's wives disappear and take rabbits out of hats. Being anything else is "uncool."

Dare to be uncool. Dare to be different. Dare to be in a Sufi band, there was a time when metal was uncool and we had something called Iron Maiden being born. Dare to paint something like Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man. Dare to be a stand up comic who does bits of humour on topics the audience gives on the spot, dare to be a magician who doesn't use a deck of cards.
Dare to be Saffola and Vikas Khanna who make you have Tindas and Badaam Milk and somehow make you like them.
BUT never tell anyone how you got where you get, because the secret impresses no one, the trick you use it for is everything.
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