Adventure Sports: When projecting a rocking image of your life on social media, nothing conveys “dynamic” more than pictures of oneself engaging in adventure sports. Which is why if any desi has skydived, you can be sure that’s his Facebook profile picture. It’s what social scientists call the “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara” effect, a film that not only defined yuppie-cool as tomato-throwing, adventure sports, expensive bags and first-world problems of commitment and friendship, but also provided a generation a blue-print of what their life should be.
Or more precisely, should appear to be to their friends and peers.
Hence sky-diving. And white-water-rafting (the poor student’s skydiving), and bungee-jumping, rope-gliding, para-gliding and snorkeling.
The lure of adventure sports is not difficult to understand. It gives the desi, and particularly those settled in the foreign, with their anodyne life of ABS and smoke alarms and trip to Patel Brothers at 5 pm on Saturdays and renter’s insurance a taste of danger that is controlled and regulated. Shouting “Wheeeeeee” as one propels through the air while securely tied to the chest of an expert, gives the desi a “living in the moment couldn’t care less for the future” edgy vibe that needs to be shared on Facebook for maximum enjoyment, while of course their 2030 retirement funds invested at Fidelity automatically adjust their share between stocks and bonds, because if it didn’t…well that would be risky.
It often makes me wonder why my parent’s generation never did adventure sports. I guess they would have, but no one took pictures of them riding on a little edge of a step on a speeding mini-bus to-and-fro from work, hanging from the side with countless others, jostling and pushing, without a single safety harness.
Fitness: While it is politically incorrect to flaunt your wealth egregiously (which is why some sleights of hand are required), it is perfectly fine to brag about how healthy, fit and fine you are.
Which means not only endless status updates of the miles you have jogged (“Completed 5 K today in the morning”) or the reps you did (for some reason though, the desi is more into cardio than resistance) but also pictures.
I will be honest dear friends. Your fitness pictures get to me. Yes they make me jealous which is me saying it served its purpose.
The picture taken at the 5K race. The “Boston Marathon” album. The “I completed Tough Mudder And Didn’t Break Sweat” Tshirt. And the crowning glory, or should I say the icing on the cake, is when you, with your toned abs and your marathon-running exploits, post pictures of yourself having sinful banana split (because of course you have to show that you were born with it or maybe it’s Maybelline) with that smile that says “Doncha wish you had genes like me?”
Yeah yeah. I get it. No matter how hard I try (and trust me I have), I will never have your dynamism and metabolism.
Food: A newbie mistake no desi worth his Instagram account makes is to post pictures of him/herself having food at a fast-food place like McDonalds or Burger King. This is a big step-up (or down depending on your point of view) from the days when every desi who has been in the firang lands would have a picture of themselves under the golden arches or standing next to a Ronald McDonald. But then those were innocent times when buying a Coke can was considered a luxury and people would keep an used Coke can on their living room coffee table, re-purposing it as a pen-stand because of course guests had to be discreetly informed you had a can of Coke.
But a mistake some make is to still post pictures of themselves dining at TGI Fridays or Denny’s or any of the chain restaurants. I know because I have made it myself. You see my lovelies, any restaurant which has the word “chain” associated with it or has the words “endless”, “bottomless”, “unlimited” and “all you can eat” anywhere on the menu card does not qualify as fine dining of the kind that you should feel obligated to record on film. So no. Olive Garden isn’t the kind of cuisine the dudes of ZNMD would approve. Neither Red Lobster.
The way I learned what fine dining was, and I recommend you do too, is to stalk the albums of your friends who have gotten their MBA from top 5 schools or work in the Valley. They always have pictures of themselves in fashionable roadside bistros, quaint coffee corners, delectable cake shops that serve a type of lemon meringue pie that cannot be found anywhere in San Francisco, German-style beer gardens, wineries and vineyards, and expensive fifty-dollar-a-plate steakhouses where the waiters have French accents Sometimes in order to show that there are still edgy, they may dine down in places referred to as “holes in the wall” but be rest assured those were reviewed by Zagat and made it to the top of Washington Post’s list of “Ten of DC’s Best Kept Secrets”.
I watch these pictures and learn, sometimes controlling my urge to comment “Arre bhai babua peeyat raha mahua” when I see a friend whom I recall once drinking country liquor out of a repurposed Mother Dairy packet posting pictures of him and his wife sipping from long-stemmed wine glasses during their wine-trip through the French countryside.
But then I realize that he would counter-comment on my food and baby pictures and hence I call a pre-emptive truce.
Yes. I do baby pictures. And food pictures. Though not them together.
Taking pictures of food prepared at home and putting them on social media is totally awesome. With food channels and Master Chef and cookery blogs and Instagram filters that make food look better than it tastes, great home-cooked food is the new Onida Color TV, neighbour’s envy and owner’s pride.
Here is my dinner. Home-made humus, succulent Kifta kabab Moroccan style. Chicken Cassiatore. Home-rolled sushi. What’s yours? Oh you didn’t take a picture. Ok I think I know what you are having.
Food getting cold? I don’t care. Let me take another picture before that fine patina of moisture on the chicken dries away. Mmm…let’s see. Camera at plate level. Yesss. That makes it look more succulent. Let’s see the pictures. Oh no no. This one of the Swedish meatballs cooked country-style didnt come out well, it looks like deer droppings after a rainy day. Delete delete. You know what? I think we should get plates a different shade of light blue, this one kind of swamps out the color palette of the food, don’t you think? Well maybe next time. Let’s eat now. Wait. I forgot the salt and seasoning in this. Damn. Oh well, who cares? There’s already 42 Likes.
Restaurant-pictures and home-cooked pictures are in many ways complementary. While the former convey affluence and an appreciation of the finer things in life, the latter provide an aura of fulfilling domesticity, good taste, and the ability to be hands-on.
Pro tip: Use a judicious mixture of both to create the impression of perfectness.
Pro pro tip: If you are going to heat pre-cooked packaged dinners (e.g. Deep Shahi Paneer) and pass it off as your cooking, remember to transfer the food out of the plastic container onto a glass plate before clicking the picture.