A rebel by any other name

You have seen him before. A lost soul wandering the aisles of the last wedding reception you attended, searching desperately for a kindred spirit or the entrance to the sadya hall, whichever he finds first. Dollars to doughnuts (or Rupees to parippuvada) he will be attired in a monochromatic t shirt that reaches down to just above his knees & a pair of black jeans that’s torn at exactly the same anatomical location. He will have long hair that’s been highlighted in random places, and a beard, the shape and fullness of which depends on which side of puberty he is. He will speak to you only in monosyllables, unless the topic of conversation happens to be Marvel comics or neo liberal feminism. He is usually scornful of Mohanlal, rating him at best an average actor who was once passably good, and is very distrustful of any movie that was rated U/A by Indian Censor Board.
He is the guy who is introduced to Girija Aunty by his mom with a definite sense of trepidation – for she has to juggle the complex tasks of remembering if her son is currently ‘taking a break from work’ or ‘exploring his options’ and figuring out how to respond when Girija aunty waxes eloquently about how her son recently got promoted to project lead at Infosys. He is also the guy who regularly gets into trouble with his dad for the ‘Ganapathy on a Harley’ poster he has on his laptop cover.
Rebels or ‘Freakkans’ are however, not a new phenomenon. They have always been around; a few in every generation. Back in the 70’s in Kerala they were the hippies, those generation of long haired semi starved youths who wore dog ear collars and bell bottom pants. Their parents presumably found it hard to introduce them at wedding receptions too. In fact an entire generation of parents disapproved of them, leading that indomitable cartoonist Toms to create the loving rascal ‘Appi Hippi’. Appi Hippi was created to channel the frustration and embarrassment of all those parents into a single stereotypical hippy. He was the embodiment of irresponsibility and incompetence, a serial ‘no –gooder’ who would never, in the considered opinion of his elders and betters, amount to anything.
But no one focused on his abilities and talents – his passable guitar skills, his innate innocence and his charming and friendly character that would give the shirt off his back to help his friends. Appi Hippi was never a one dimensional character, but hardly anyone ever appreciated him fully. Except for Toms himself, and that’s probably why he always kept him around. Appi Hippi never grew old, never lost his hair, never grew fat, never settled into a decent government job and never lost his guitar.
And in the 21st century, he was born again as Russel Brand
But I suspect a lot of real life Appi’s grew up to do exactly that, and in that process lost all connection with a sense of who they used to be. Taking on the generational mantle of behaviour police, they started judging the new generation Appi’s, those who replaced bell bottomed pants with loose and torn jeans, those who replaced hand held transistors with iPods and those who replaced Beatles t-shirts with Limp Bizkit. The fierce urge to cling onto old ideals and deny anything that smells like change is troubling in older generation.
So what if his hair is long? I would kill to be able to grow long hair. Mine always frizzles out after 2 inches. So what if he has a Ganapathy on a Harley poster? I think that makes Ganapathy look really bad ass.

As if he wasn’t bad ass already

So what if he has taken some time off to consider his next move? If he isn’t living off of his parents’ money, I say all the power to him. We all need to stop and take a break from living too fast once in a while.

So what if he thinks Mohanlal is passé? Oh wait, sorry, that’s unforgiveable. No long haired scraggly bearded wet behind the ears loser is going to diss Mohanlal. Not on my watch. 

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