Long train rides, after tedious days of mental toiling is rife with the possibilities of wandering into the alleys of the mind. Add to this, the film-reel of changing landscapes that’s flashing past the eyes, streaming picturesque fields adorned with grazing animals, making it all the more conducive for random thought-trains.
It was one such evening, and I was all lost, listening to Slipknot’s “All Hope is Gone” (it’s not as hopeless as it sounds!). I was thoroughly enjoying the guitar riffs and powerful vocals of Corey Taylor, while flaunting the slightest of the nods in synchronisation with the impeccable drumming. Then I stop, and get aware of this trance and wake up from this lostness. It was more than simply being woken up; I was self-aware and had started to ponder about how my sensibilities have changed, or rather how they have evolved.
A thought-train had arrived.
Using Slipknot as a case in example, if someone had predicted that I’d be a proclaimed Slipknot fan, even a few years ago, I’d have smirked at that suggestion. I’m sure, several from my entourage might still see this as a digression from the person I projected to be. But then, our sensibilities are constantly evolving, and I see this as another manifestation of it.
In a broader context, the single most important change that my travels and studies outside India have caused in me are to expand and deepen my sensibilities. I don’t mean sensibilities merely in the sense of cultural consumption, but, more importantly, also the broader realm of my thinking, values and aesthetics.
Let’s take the LGBTQ movement, for instance. At the risk of sounding a conservative, I admit to having been hesitant to vocally voice my opinions in support of the struggles of this minority section, during my prime activism days in India. I attribute it to the carapace of the domestic Indian culture that I was so accustomed to, that even with my self-proclaimed liberal attitude, somewhere deep within I was still a conservative on this particular issue (and presumably also on various others).
Moving to Sweden (and then to Denmark) changed this for me. I was transported from my seemingly non-committal views, to the forefronts of progressive values. This enabled to align myself to a centroid of values that I am proud of, and is consistent with the stances that I take.
There are various other core aspects in me that have, hopefully, evolved for the better. I am more conscious of discrimination that I am subject to, or that I might be perpetuating, in all its subtleties. I perceive work ethics differently. I am committed to being conscious of what I consume. And the list goes on.
Having said this, it does not imply that I could have abandoned my core values that shape me. I have sensed hints of cynicism from my Indian acquaintances (sometimes friends too), who believe that I am drifting away from my roots, while embracing these new sensibilities, as I like to call them. And this would amount to, as Shashi Tharoor would put it, an “exasperating farrago of distortions, misrepresentations and outright lies”, or simply misreadings, as I would put it. Nonetheless, it was this observation that instigated me to question, if I had changed by abandoning my roots or had evolved by assimilating relevant values into me. The latter would suit me better, and I truly hope so. For, I believe that broadening one’s sensibilities and abandoning the core ones aren’t quite the same.
PS: Enjoy this amazing track, Gematria, that most probably triggered this post.