Saturday, November 03, 2007

Basic Instincts

I am sure this makes us think of Sharon Stone ice-picking through various men but believe me, the basic instincts portrayed by Sharon Stone and her various men comes way below in the list of other prominent basic instincts displayed by humans at public gatherings.

During Durga Puja, most probashi Bengalis (Bengalis living away from their state) spend the better part of the days and nights at the community puja pandal. The kitchens in most of our homes shut down on Saptami, Ashtami and Navami where bhog is served in the afternoons and dinner is usually a mad rush for all the typical Bengali food available at the adjoining food stalls.

We moan and groan about the hectic schedules, anjali in the mornings, bhog in the afternoons and the cultural programs in the night and of course we MUST doll ourselves up with fresh (preferably new) clothes on each visit to the Pandal. The much designer saree'd women, dripping with diamonds and gold jewelry and the men with their elaborate panjabi with gold buttons and dhoti from some designer in Kolkata all form a merry gathering at all times.

All the veneer of apparent sophistication however vanishes when bhog is announced - people run helter-skelter to get to the beginning of the queue, a push or a stiletto digging a hole into your feet does not even require apologies. After all we humans are running towards our foremost basic need - FOOD! The instinct in all of us resembles the early caveman where we hunt for food lest it finishes before we can reach it. So I have come to the conclusion that hunting for food is the primary basic instinct of man.

On Ashtami and Navami when crowds peak, chairs are at a premium and often we have to stand and watch the shows or stand and eat. The hunter in us awakens again in such situations to hunt for chairs, a member of the family goes trawling through the stretch to catch some unsuspecting person who has just got up for a minute and snatch out the chair from under his or her butt. The poor person believing the chair is till there, lands with a thud on the muddy ground. The unapologetic 'chair thief' looks back with a wicked giggle and nonchalantly walks off with the much coveted chair in hand. I think we can attribute this aspect of human behavior to our basic instinct for hunting out a safe shelter at all costs (in this case represented by a chair).

The thousands of years of 'civilization' still hasn't tamed us - we are still very much the cave men and women we were thousands of years back where fight or flight rules us.