It’s that time of the year again, when I suddenly morph into a strong supporter of the Shiv Sena for just one day. Valentine’s Day has come knocking and things are even more surreal than they usually are. Now, I’m all for romance complete with long conversations, romantic dinners and impossible-to-keep promises, but the thought of an entire day dedicated to such behaviour has always put me off. Much like overt displays of religion, I have a problem with overt displays of romance.
Thanks to the new age of virtual reality, the first signs of these overt displays of love are in the asinine and maudlin behaviour by Cupid’s victims on Facebook and Twitter. The most undying proclamations of love on Facebook are also usually the most cloyingly delusional. I’ve already spotted a few “Looking forward to spending Valentine’s with my favourite guy, my husband” on Facebook. That makes me wonder if the husband is spending every day other than Valentine’s with his secretary who’s also moonlighting as his mistress. But then everyone’s allowed a day of delusion.
The posturing of finding true, albeit virtual, love in the arms of errant husbands isn’t as bad as what greeted me on the front pages of HT City a couple of days back. It seems that Delhi University’s Hindu College has a Valentine’s Day ritual. The students appoint a Valentine’s Day goddess, named Damdami Mai for some reason. I know this sounds like I’ve been smoking up, but even I couldn’t come up with something so surreal. The picture of the Virgin Goddess a.k.a. Damdami Mai is put up on the Virgin Tree and students can come worship her at this altar of love. Those who eat the prasad distributed after the puja to the Damdami Mai are promised a fast-track route to a relationship and losing their virginity within six months. And this is according to the Hindu College ‘cabinet chief’ as quoted in the paper.
Last year Damdami Mai was Bollywood actress Sonakshi Sinha. And who’s this year’s lucky nominee? Sunny Leone, adult filmstar. A tad ironic to call her Virgin Goddess. The Hindu College might have managed what the Shiv Sena hasn’t – convinced Sunny Leone that this country really isn’t the place for her. Garcia Marquez would be happy to see that our students have moved away from reading Love in the Time of Cholera to celebrating Love in the Time of Porn. Not surprising why men in Delhi are so hard-up if they feel that praying to strangely-named goddesses on campus will help them find true love and lose their virginity – not necessarily in that order.
But why blame the pinnacle of higher education in the region for propagating stupidity? Valentine’s Day comes with a surfeit of marketing initiatives by clever companies to cash in on the general emotional stupidity on display.
My favourite online bookshop, Flipkart has got in on the action as well, much to my sorrow. It’s bad enough that people don’t seem to read nowadays and consider self-help books and management tomes like Bones to Competition or whatever that’s called, as their benchmark for literature and English language appreciation. Come Valentine Week, Flipkart has started encouraging the feeble-minded but romantically-inclined to read suspect literature like The Notebook, Water For Elephants, PS I love You and The Gift, by slashing prices and offering them as a special Valentine’s pack.
Do people really need encouragement to read such tripe? It’s bad enough that these books have been made into flop films, let’s lay them to rest now. In a perfect world, any day which propagates poor command over language would be banned. But such is not to be. So not only will some lovelorn, lovesick student be praying to Damdami Mai for salvation for his virgin soul, Twitter and Facebook will also be full of soppy quotes with incorrect punctuation for the week to come.
The piéce-de-resistance though, is an ad I saw for a Valentine gift which only reinforced my belief that the theory that the "Consumer is not an idiot, she is your wife" is either incorrect or means that your wife is not just an idiot, she is also an imbecile. Gone are the days of marketers trying to sell you bouquets of flowers or dancing Pandas to gift your Lady Love this Valentine’s. Reliance Digital has come up with the most unique gift of them all. They’ve asked you to ‘Gift your girl freedom from skin troubles caused due to waxing. Gift her Silk-épil 3’. Yes, nothing makes us ladies as happy as being told that we are a just a tad too hirsute, by the men we love.
If you must celebrate Valentine’s Day do so. But be kind and not force it down the throats of the rest of us long-suffering souls. It leaves us with the feeling that we are being lobotomised with a dull scalpel. But since it’s the day of love, I’d like to end with a romantic quote from my favourite tweeter @greyskythinking. “Being committed means sticking with someone no matter how bad things are. And being put in an institution for the insane. Or possibly both”. Happy Valentine’s everyone.
Rajyasree Sen is an erstwhile restaurateur, TV connoisseur and unsolicited opinion-giver. You can order some delicious food from her at www.foodforthoughtindia.blogspot.com or follow her at @rajyasree.