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Saturday October 23, 2021

Noon Waves

afternoon clouds film
Still from Afternoon Clouds by Payal Kapadia

Afternoons are meant for slumber in some households whereas it stands for intense reading and sometimes embroidery or knitting amongst members of other households. As far as I am concerned, the peace and quiet that a summer afternoon offers is unmatched. I can read, write and, more importantly, think without any hindrance whatsoever. If one disregards the intense heat that the blazing sun envelopes everyone with, a summer afternoon can be really relaxing. If one foregoes the post meal siesta, these are the best hours offering some undisturbed metime. Normally, one does not get called to perform errands during this time and so one has the hours entirely to oneself.

Work From Home

Post-pandemic, when a WFH atmosphere is prevailing around the world today, every household has undergone a drastic change in the daily routine. Working men and women are working frantically on their computers, at home. When these mini marvels (read laptops and desktops) had yet to enter our lives in such a big way, afternoons were mostly the time when the women of the households set their pickle jars out in the sun. But then, those were the days when houses had terraces on their roofs. The modern lifestyles defined by the walls of concrete slabs of flats (built one upon the other since man’s requirement to make a nest for himself is never-ending) have no access to rooftops. So flying kites is a rare game among boys today.

As the overhead sun reaches its zenith, the afternoons grow sultry and hot with the passage of seasons. During summers, it is unbearable while in the winter season, it is the best part of the day. Most children spend this time of the day in their schools, except for vacations. But the pandemic has changed the entire global scenario. The new normal living has necessitated adjustments and compromises on a larger and wider scale. Online classes have become the base of the new normal pyramid. Our children of the country are our future. So developing them (each and every one of them) is the responsibility of each one of us.

Inspirations

In Indian classical music, the raga Bhimpalasi can be rightly termed as one meant for the afternoon hours. In a recent book that I read, the writer had analysed the origin of the word, ‘godhuli’. He had written that the word ideally means ‘the hour of cow dust’ – ‘go=cow’ and ‘dhuli=dust’. It’s the time when the cows returned after grazing and hence the late afternoons have been named so. The place, where I reside, has of late been experiencing a sense of déjà vu. When we all were children, the late afternoons were meant for the advent of the ‘ice-cream vendors’. These people have returned of late and have thus rekindled long, hidden memories in many, like myself.

Afternoons are devoted to lunches, and if it happens to be a Sunday, then these are often special. I have heard from my parents that during their own childhood days, mutton curries were intrinsic on a Sunday afternoon platter. But today, most of us follow the diet plan chalked out by our doctors. The latter, with all good intentions, are prohibiting or otherwise restricting the consumption of meat. In those days, I often wonder, were ailments few and rare? How did this transformation from a largesse food-chart to a rudimentary form take place? The motto of all physicians and frontline health workers today, is to help us live longer, healthily and happily. In the past, the mortality rate had been huge. 

In Cinema

Billy Wilder’s film Love In The Afternoon (1957) starring Gary Cooper and Audrey Hepburn also comes to mind. The film, based on a French novel, was shot entirely in Paris. Four years ago, in 2017, the Cannes Film Festival had accepted the FTII student Payal Kapadia’s 13-minute short film, Afternoon Clouds as the only official entry from India in the competitive category. The director had revealed in an interview later that the film’s theme was inspired a lot by her own grandmother and that a short film is like a haiku. I am also reminded of Lord Albert Tennyson’s classic poem, ‘The Lotus Eaters’, where the poet describes the journey of Odysseus/ Ulysses and his fellow mariners who come upon the land of the lotus plant, which, when eaten, induces a dream-like state. The poem ends with the line, “O, rest ye, brother mariners, we will not wander more.”

love in the afternoon film
Audrey Hepburn and Gary Cooper in Love in the Afternoon 1957

Afternoons are also meant for rendezvous. At the appointed time and place, pairs met and discussed. In the cinema halls (as opposed to multiplexes), the ‘noon shows’ on a Sunday were huge favourites. From college-goers to housewives, the halls were usually packed with people of all ages. So any which way it is viewed, afternoons are hours of activities.

Image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons

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