What’s the deal with so-called ‘intellectuals’ or ‘antels’ (as they’re termed lovingly in Bengali)? I mean, some of them are real, some are pseudo, some are wannabe, and the rest are non. I’ve been wondering about this genus of ‘educated’ people since I’ve started knowing them, and trust me, still haven’t been able to fathom all of them. There are different species within this genus as I mentioned above – reals, pseudos, wannabes, ‘non’s. Well, the ‘non’s are also intellectuals in their own street-smart way, with their carefully-crafted show of belonging in the category. There has been a recent surge of antel-ism, or should I say social-activism in all the social-networking sites (as observed by myself). The trend is pronounced mostly in Facebook due to its informal and easy way of presenting each post, and most importantly their visibility. And so, each day my wall is laced with such grave and supposedly important posts – mostly from the pseudos. All of them are not about any/clichéd-topic-under-the-sun, they HAVE to be about some incident in an obscure part of the world, sometimes India.
The posts trouble me, with their garnished keywords such as petition, pledge, peace, vigil, democracy, law, even Sierra Leone, and on special occasions – Ayodhya, yes. The antels thrill me with their political awareness and ideologies and philosophy and sociology and economics, and of course the subject in which they’re pursuing their doctorate degrees. I’ve been a graduate student too, and I’m amazed with all the time they can squeeze out of a freaking 24-hours day. I could hardly find any time to work on a webzine after labs and assignments, let alone reading innumerable websites and e-papers for worldwide news.
Ah yes, how can I forget about all the movies they watch with teeth-crushing names and subjects. I’m a simple ‘boudi’ as I’ve been labelled after marriage, who’s happy with her books, Holly/Bolly/Tollywoods, chosen sitcoms, NRI Durga pujas, black nail-colours, online games, Nigella Lawson, Russell Peters and plain writings. I’m a non-antel as I refuse to propagate, comment, discuss, debate, or fight about causes in which I would not be able to contribute to my satisfaction. Be it monetarily, physically or materially – ‘moral’ contribution is of no practical use to me, especially on social-networking sites. A ‘Save a Tiger’ page is same to me as a ‘Save Somalia’ one – none will be actually “saved” by a few stupid clicks on the page itself.
But the above are only applicable to the pseudo-antels I guess. For the few real-antels I’ve seen, they are more than happy to remain engrossed in their sweet little self-centeredness oblivious to the world. They care, and definitely they don’t. It’s the cause that they scream for with least possible concern about the effects. And the wannabes, oh Jesus, save me from them! They are a species you would find all around you, people who desperately seek attention of the reals and pseudos, to be accepted in the holy cult of antels. It’s ‘hep’ to be an antel you know, to walk in a pledge on the streets of Manhattan for the flood-victims of Pakistan, without donating a single cent for them. Talking comes easy, man, what else are ‘social’ networking sites for than flaunting yourself, your ‘awareness’, your concern. There is another strata of ‘non’s though, who are blessed with their typical ‘masala‘ movies, updating their hourly status in Facebook, and gushing all the social-networking sites with shit-piles of photographs about every-freakin-thing they do. This species is also highly self-centered, since they post only about themselves, and occasionally an Ayodhya verdict, may be. It is debatable whether this species is more tolerable than the pseudos who would actually read a 1905-page verdict about something (I don’t care to remember what it was). Or is it just my inability to invest time in reading a 1905-page something only if the subject makes any sense to me?
And yes, before being asked in a comment on this note about how I would categorize myself – I am probably a non-antel of the first kind, since I’m not able to appreciate a Dabangg or an Enthiran either for the entertainment it provides or the satire. I’m blissful with my Khichdi ((the serial, not the movie) and F.R.I.E.N.D.S.
I can smell the brickbats, keep ’em coming, people.