Rotis of Instagram

Amateur Rangolis, basic home cooked food, half eaten ice-cream, birthday cards, personal handwritten notes of appreciation, an outfit-of-the-day, a Puja set up at home, photos from a honeymoon trip, disturbingly close-up selfies – a few things we broadcast on social media for everyone to consume.

I made two perfectly round Rotis this morning for lunch, took a picture and sent it to three friends with a caption that tried to be funny. On my way to work, I looked at the photo and thought it would be a nice thing to put it up on Instagram for all of my 300+ friends on it. I started trying out the 48647 kinds of filters on my two Rotis. I thought of a caption. How could I make a joke about Rotis? Should I instead serve an inspirational quote with the photo of Rotis to help people get through their mid-week crisis? As I tried to settle the conflict between three shortlisted filters, motion sickness took over. I quickly turned away from the phone screen and looked out of the window. I felt better and wondered why  anyone would want to see photos of my Rotis when they have their own – real ones that they could eat. I had no stories to tell about those two Rotis this morning. They weren’t even gluten-free! I abstained and chose to look out of the window for the rest of the cab ride. The three close friends I had earlier sent the photo to, did respond enthusiastically though, with Roti-stories of their own.

Posting about daily traditional things on social media could be a good thing if it meant revival of some beautiful traditions. However, I wonder if it can also promote mediocrity. With Diwali, came a flood of photos of not-so-impressive Rangolis, and Outfits-of-the-Day. A photo of my first attempt at Rangoli art while wearing new clothes will undoubtedly make my grandparents and aunts happy,  but I wonder how relevant it is for the 800 other people that I’m connected with on Facebook. I wonder why has wearing traditional clothes become a trend, why has cooking Dal-Chawal at home become a big deal, why has Diwali sweets become a hashtag, and why has a non-artsy photo of our morning cup of tea become a thing of a hundred ‘likes’? When an image refuses to speak even a single word, why is it forcefully fed with steroid-like hashtags? What happened to the practice of publishing only nicely taken and composed photos? Why has it become okay to feed people a photo of 2 round rotis, something that most of them eat every single day? I wonder if we’re losing the art of story-telling while chasing our dreams of being mini-celebrities, if we’re over-estimating ourselves when we put up power-quotes next to our selfies.

Travel photos do make sense to me though – Photos that don’t have people’s faces covering 80% of the backdrops from exotic locations. Travel photos can give people goals, and so do photos of good food that aren’t accessible to ones plate and palate daily. Similarly, photos of art, videos of an art form, that have been worked upon over a period of years – They have a story of their own, a strong pull of attraction, a source of inspiration, and they hold promise.

Returning to the Rotis that I made this morning, they’re now unflattering-ly folded into quarters and are not as delicious looking as they did this morning. They certainly don’t look the way they did in their potential ‘I woke up like this’ photo, just like most Rotis on our Instagram feed!


One thought on “Rotis of Instagram

  1. The roti and art of a roti-making pretty much are the very definitions of adult existentialism at this point and there is nothing trivial about that. 😉
    Cheers to the higher pursuit of the elusive perfectly round rotis in real life and their virtual filtered versions on Instagram.
    You got this. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

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