At a certain society meeting last week, I noticed a very interesting episode. It was just another nondescript round of business, nothing particularly special. Not everyone was present, which makes my version of the occurence slightly more specific. I wish it wasn't. It needn't be specific. But my version is one worth endorsing. Not only because everything here is only a record of the event, as far as the recounting of it goes, but also because there is nothing 'new' about it. There was a general discussion about the things that needed to be done, keeping in mind some upcoming event. Some other talk about the things that needn't be done. Some other talk about the ways of the world. More talk about the meticulous scheduling of things that needed to be conducted for doing anything further. We needed to 'figure things out'. It was a moment of sheer calculating brilliance. Dates and days, weeks and weekends, places to stay and places impossible to get back to. Names and lists, people to 'do' and people to judge the 'doing'. All such things transpired.
Then, in the middle of all this, something happened.
I am sure no one else really noticed. Or even if they did, they did not seem to acknowledge it. There is something very complicated about situations like these. Sometimes, certain things that happen are noticed only by a few people, and for reasons of their own: references to them, an act that they have some hand in, a bit of information that they may know. There are specific things that appeal to people, make sense to them, that they find useful. Other people, or most other people, around them may not apprehend the same things as them. It's a disparity of reason. The only problem in this situation is, what the one person gets from it often gets dissolved and virutally vanishes in the interchange of words thrown about and noises flung vociferously from corner to corner. It gets lost. Therefore, it cannot be easily understood.
An announcement was made about some upcoming events at two places. One of the places was IIT Guwahati. In the cacophany of the room, the announcements were all but lost, but most still heard them. It was only a notification. Things that come to pass and go unnoticed. But one person, a girl, burst into a very strange guffaw. It was an odd thing for her to do. Not because it had nothing particularly funny about it, but because laughter is something that can be reckoned with immediately. It's very simple; people can identify laughter. Otherwise, such an outburst would be an innocuous thing - someone laughing off the silliness of a proposition, an idea, or, as in this case, an announcement. But sometimes, and I mean this emphatically, sometimes some dismissals are sinister. They are sinister because they are stupid, they are stupid because they are false, and they are false because they originate from one thing and one thing only - ignorance.
The guffaw probably went on for a while. I didn't notice. My mind was already struck by the sheer biliousness and stupidity of something like this. I don't know what being parochial means in this college. I can't identify it. But by standards of universal stupidity, some parochial comments are condemnably disgusting. This was disgusting. Not disgusting because it was mindless, as related to the earlier point, but disgusting for its vendetta.
I have no association with the aformentioned institute in Assam. I know no one there, have minimal knowledge of its academic work, or, most importantly, the event in question. I know nothing about what it does at such an event. I know nothing about what they 'get out of' such an event. I know nothing about anyone with any intention to attend it. But I do know that there are standards of decency. Flouting them is a matter of personal dispensations, depending on who's more rude, arrogant, stupid, etc. All such specific traits I do know of. And when something like this happens, things become more apparent than not. I can laugh off the 'mishap'. I don't even care for the mangled shamelessness of the person concerned. But there is something I do care about. I do feel that sometimes, even when everything that we do suffices to fulfill the needs of our daily functioning, there are things that need to be preserved. Respect is one of them.
You could come from a place where, or be sired of a background in which, they teach you nothing but lambent brow-beating and infra-dig foul-mouthing, which is fine and, really, entirely up to you to absorb from your forbearers and the (rather dubious lack of) culture of the place you come from. But the moment you enter a space where you may violate the civility of other people's sensibilities, you had better watch your mouth.