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While at that time gossip did seem tasteless sometimes, some part of me wonders if our and future generations will ever really benefit from the true power of storytelling that these everyday conversations brought.
It was class 3rd, and I had to choose a character for my fancy dress competition. I still remember my mother and me racking our brains for something “different”. We lived in a huge apartment block, where a number of ladies would gather mid-morning on the terrace for chit-chat.
Inspired by these ladies, we zeroed in on the character of a “gossiping lady”. My 2 minute narration consisted of incidents currently happening in the lives of our neighbours, all the while peeling a bowl of peas!
Why this reminiscence, one may ask. Sorting through old albums, I came across a pic of mine from thirty years ago when I played this role, which set off a trail of thought as to why people talk about other people.
Is it purely a love for gossip? Or is it some tasteless interest in prying into other people’s lives and sharing details from your own life?
At the core, it’s a need to exchange stories.
As humans, our need to socialise is, in a large part, fulfilled by stories — stories of great people and achievers, stories of fictional people and fantasy lands, and stories of people around us. These stories evoke emotions in us. They introduce us to people we would love to know in our real lives, even if those people are purely fictional. When we listen to stories, our brain reacts exactly the same way as it would if we were physically in that situation.
Stories, hence, become a way of experiencing experiences which we may never in real life face.
And when those stories ARE about people in our real lives, they become relatable. The people in those stories are people you know in flesh and blood. They deepen our sense of emotional response and improve our power to empathise. We also use these stories around us in some ways to validate our own values and reach out to those who are on the same wavelength as us.
It is also these stories that in a strange, convoluted way define the social order that we are so used to. We are drawn to people who have similar stories to ours, we naturally empathise with them. Think back to your first ‘best’ friends. What were their stories?
Now think back to the last person you spoke to today. Do you know their story? We are wary of people whose stories are very different from ours. They often evoke emotions such as awe, distrust, a feeling of superiority or inferiority, or even fear at times. And often there is a psychological comfort in not being part of some of those stories.
We rarely see such ‘gossiping ladies’ anymore in the urban centres that we live in. And while at that time it did seem tasteless sometimes, some part of me does wonder if our generation and future generations will ever really benefit from the true power and the true benefits of storytelling that these everyday conversations brought to our older generations. Will our generation and future generations ever be able to learn the empathy and emotions that these unplanned, often unstructured ‘storytelling’ sessions brought with them?
Image source: a still from the film Sharmaji Namkeen
Founder @Tell-A-Tale - I gobble stories and spit out new ones everyday; travel addict, software engineer, storywriter for brands, mentor, Renaissance woman in-the-making. read more...
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As he stood in front of his door, Nishant prayed that his wife would be in a better mood. The baby thing was tearing them apart. When was the last time he had seen his wife smile?
Veena got into the lift. It was a festival day, and the space was crammed with little children dressed in bright yellow clothes, wearing fancy peacock feather crowns, and carrying flutes. Janmashtami gave her the jitters. She kept her face down, refusing to socialize with anyone.
They had moved to this new apartment three months ago. The whole point of shifting had been to get away from the ruthless questioning by ‘well-wishers’.
“You have been married for ten years! Why no child yet?”
I huffed, puffed and panted up the hill, taking many rest breaks along the way. My calf muscles pained, my heart protested, and my breathing became heavy at one stage.
“Let’s turn back,” my husband remarked. We stood at the foot of Shravanbelagola – one of the most revered Jain pilgrimage centres. “We will not climb the hill,” he continued.
My husband and I were vacationing in Karnataka. It was the month of May, and even at the early hour of 8 am in the morning, the sun scorched our backs. After visiting Bangalore and Mysore, we had made a planned stop at this holy site in the Southern part of the state en route to Hosur. Even while planning our vacation, my husband was very excited at the prospect of visiting this place and the 18 m high statue of Lord Gometeshwara, considered one of the world’s tallest free-standing monolithic statues.
What we hadn’t bargained for was there would be 1001 granite steps that needed to be climbed to have a close-up view of this colossal magic three thousand feet above sea level on a hilltop. It would be an understatement to term it as an arduous climb.
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