On Death, Nostalgia and the Lost Art of New Discoveries

Deewane Huye Paagal

Deewane Huye Paagal: The dreadful movie that got me musing on Death. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It happened while I was travelling down from Pune to Mumbai on one of those buses that insist on playing forgettable, supposedly funny movies like Tere Naal Love Ho Gaya and Hungama. This time, it was the execrable Vikram Bhatt movie, Deewane Huye Paagal, a rip-off of the 1998 movie, There’s Something About Mary.

Naturally, I then started thinking about the Hollywood original, and my mind drifted off to Cameron Diaz and what she was like back in the ‘90s: so blonde, so pretty and so utterly fresh.  Musing on her took me back to the days when I had just begun to discover Hollywood. I knew very few names, and Cameron Diaz (along with Jim Carey and Julia Roberts) was one of them. (Bear with me: I have a point here which I will eventually make.) Anyway, “Whatever happened to Cameron Diaz,” I mused, “that she’s now doing shit like Bad Teacher.” She had shown so much potential in those early movies; yes, even in The Mask. And now, all one read about were her relationships with younger men.

And that got me thinking about myself: what I had been like when I first saw Cameron Diaz on screen and what I am like now. Had I lived up to the expectations that my younger self had set? Had I realized my full potential? I wasn’t sure that I had. It depressed me to think of those days when I knew so little and there was still so much of the world waiting to be discovered.

I won’t say that I know a lot now. I don’t think I possibly can. But that delicious sense of discovering something new, that heart-pounding excitement you get when you think you’ve stumbled on an original idea or even the fiery passion that you feel for ideas that may not be your own, but which you have complete faith in: I haven’t felt any of that in a dreadfully long time.  Everything  I read now, and everything  I watch or listen to has a dull familiarity to it.

The biggest problem with getting older is not that we’re getting closer to death. If that were the only thing, it frankly, wouldn’t be so much of a problem. After, as Albus Dumbledore said, Death is the beginning of a new adventure. Or some such. The exact wording isn’t important.  The point here is that even at death’s doorstep, we can look forward to a new adventure. We’re in the final stages of shedding our old skin and growing a new one and who knows what will emerge on the other side?

And yet, we’re all terrified of death. I often wonder why that is. It shouldn’t be because it’s The Great Unknown. That’s exactly what ought to make it exciting – the fact that we don’t know anything about it. Don’t misunderstand me. I’m terrified of death myself, and if I found out I had only a few more days or months or years to live, I honestly don’t know if I would have any courage to go on living in the brief time I had left.  Yes, death terrifies us. But I think that’s largely because we look back with so much regret on our lives. Most of us do. You do. Admit it. You may only be in your late twenties, but you’re already looking back on your college years or the first few years of your working life with great nostalgia. Ah, those were the good old times, weren’t they? You stayed up all night, talking with friends, drinking coffee and sharing a plate of Maggi. You went out partying, drank like a fish with no liver and could survive on Uncle Chips for a whole week.

Now, you can’t drink beer without feeling bloated and just one packet of Kurkure is enough to make you feel like your stomach is a nuclear wasteland. You can no longer sleep for two hours on a friend’s rock-hard mattress and still wake up feeling fresh. And hungry for three-egg omelettes.

I bet a lot of you reading this are sighing right now. Just like I am, while writing this. I miss those good old days too when there the simple delight of stumbling across a wonderful old book by some East European exile was enough to power me through the week. Or watching back-to-back Satyajit Ray films would be an education in itself.

I’m not yet 30 and already I feel old. All I see around me is shit dressed up in librarian glasses and pretending to be the bee’s knees.  Movies are all remakes of Hollywood films or South Indian sooper-dooper hits which weren’t brilliant to begin with. Television shows are all sitcoms with laughter tracks or weepies with over-dressed men and women.  And the books? Frankly, I fall asleep after reading two pages and my husband has to usually remove my glasses and gently prise the book out of my hands, so that I can snooze more comfortably.

Sorry, did I say I would make a point? Turns out, I don’t have one. I’m bored and I miss new things. You know, sparkly, new things that will make my blood sing in my ears and I will grab anybody I can and tell them about this awesome new thing I just read/watched/heard. The Age of Discovery is officially over.

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One thought on “On Death, Nostalgia and the Lost Art of New Discoveries

  1. Stop planning, start doing 🙂 I know exactly how you feel and trust me it can leave one feeling quite restless. Travel a bit, i find that always helps me 🙂

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