All the places of interest in your travel list are likely to have been built or have come into existence about half a century ago. If you think about that time, whether you talk about their architecture, lifestyle, fashion or cinema, everything was over the top. Larger than life, if you would. From something as small as tea to something as big as a party was one elaborate affair. Where you came from or what you did didn’t feature into how you lead your life. Everyone indulged themselves in every little activity.
You want proof, let’s start small, head down to the older parts of your city and compare the buildings there to those that have come up in the last couple of years. The old ones may be dirty and starting to fall apart but you’ll definitely notice something different in each and every one of them unlike the columns of grey we call home today. Think about the clothes and make up of the 1950s or 1920s and compare them today. Maybe those people put more time and effort into how they looked than we do now but the elegance and glamour in their hair and clothing, even in something as simple and common as the milkmaid’s dress, is lost on the dresses of today. There’s a reason vintage is in, you know? Let’s leave the buildings and clothes behind and talk about tea, shall we? Whether the typical English tea or a traditional Japanese tea ceremony were such elaborate affairs in themselves. The people didn’t just savour tea but the time and work that went into making it. I could continue but I think you get the point.
When I think of the Taj Mahal or the Cologne cathedral or the Sacré Coeur, the sheer size of these buildings blow me away. In fact, even calling them buildings feels sacriligious, like I’m diminishing their standard putting them at the same league as something so common. Each of these structures carry in them so much detail and thought that you feel nothing but awe in their presence. You don’t have to be an expert in architecture, art or engineering to marvel at these majestic structures. Compare them to the “marvels” of today, the Burj Dubai, the Sears towers or the Taipei 101. All groundbreaking pieces of engineering but to the untrained eye, they are nothing but a pillar made of concrete, steel and glass. Sure the way they tower over you and stand with their heads in the clouds ís somehting to marvel at, but in a day and age where you either live or work in the 10th or 20th floor, the feeling fades in a couple of hours if not a couple of minutes.
I understand and appreciate the technology and science that went into making each of these skyscrapers, but once you’ve had a tour of the building where they tell you why the building was built the way it is, the most you can do is drink a cup of coffee in a fancy restaurant that is bound to be there in the last or penultimate floor of the building, and that is assuming that you can afford to(more often than not you can’t). But then with something like the Taj, you could spend all day staring at just one wall and come back the next day to stare at the same wall and still have enough to see and be mesmerised by it.
Whenever I visit a new city and come back, the old and new stand out to me. For the next couple of weeks I’m constantly comparing and contrasting them and asking myself two things. The first being, have we lost our eye for beauty? That can’t be true. We live in a society that prizes beauty. You could even venture on to say that we have an unhealthy obsession with it. But as it stands, no, that is definitely not the problem?
That brings forth a second more pressing question, The question of have we stopped taking pleasure in the smaller details of life. This question is deeper and much darker than the previous. It doesn’t scrape at the surface but takes a more intensive look into our pysche and could perhaps answer the bigger question of why we are on an average such an unhappy lot. We need to take a better look to understand why we’ve become this plain, bland and grossly unhappy generation despite having technology and luxuries, previously unheard of, at our disposal.
While the market is flooded with newer and better versions have we forgone the enduring pleasure of enjoying our purchases in favour of being consumed by the fleeting the pleasure of ownership? We are caught up with the surface and have no chance to venture beyond to even give ourselves the chance to explore and experience true happiness. AS the adage goes, “Money can’t buy you happiness”, we maybe richer and be able to live longer lives but we’re by no means happier. What is the point of a long life where you can afford what you want but you can’t enjoy any of it?
In our fast changing and consumer driven world, we’ve stopped looking at the smaller details and forgotten just how much beauty lies in those tiny little details. And for those who go on about how unreal bollywood movies are, mabye what we need is a bit of song and dance to put colour back into our grey world. It may be a bit over the top but I’ll take drama and living in the moment over the insipidness and race of today that we call life anyday! I’d gladly trade my jeans for a 1920s dress if it meant happiness and satisfaction. Sure I may die earlier but at least I’ll be doing it happy and in style. If not, at least I’m in vogue ;).