A purpose without a purpose!

While having dinner with a friend at a Bengali restaurant in Mumbai I was having this conversation:

*The friend is a Radio Jockey based in Mumbai- woefully underpaid, overworked, and as a Bengali-living-alone-in-Mumbai, looking for the perfect creative vent to express herself. Apart from RJ-ing, she sings at corporate dinners, does playback for Oriya and Bhojpuri movie songs, gatecrashes at music directors’ apartments to get herself that one song which would firm her position as a playback singer in Bollywood.

PS. She has a brilliant voice.

Me:  So don’t you feel pissed with the arrangements at your PG? (She stays as a Paying Guest in Andheri West, shares a room with another girl who is a hard-core vegetarian, has to go through noisy and lonely nights seeing her roomie make out with her boyfriend in the adjacent bed while the TV is blaring and the lights on, is not allowed to bring in guests and is 34 years old and feels that she is getting old fast and vacillates between losing her ‘dignity’ and ‘getting to the top’ and packing up her bags and returning to Kolkata.

Friend: Not at all! I am used to it now…it has already been two years…

Me: But don’t you miss the comfort of your own home in Kolkata? You could’ve have stayed back and tried for something similar back there?

Friend: Nooo waaay! They pay peanuts! Sometimes they don’t even pay that! I have had to do shows for free in Kolkata…

Me: …but the people aren’t so…you know…’demanding’…

Taking this as a cue, she started explaining how ‘demanding’ some of the music producers in Mumbai had been.

Friend: There was this music producer I had been introduced to by another music producer. He told me about this outdoor show that he was arranging and asked me if I could sing for it. “There would be high-profile people there bachha, from all industries! You would love it! And of course you will have your own opportunities for some networking! Eh heh heh heh…”…and he slapped me on my back and let his hand linger there for a little while longer! I was aghast but the lure of networking opportunities made me go for it! The venue was this shabby little town a little away from Mumbai. High profile people meant- retired politicians, industrialists and goons. My co-performers were shabby looking women in shiny and skimpy outfits. Just when I was being shown into the dressing room for changing into my performance outfit, a friend called to ask if I would be free tomorrow evening to catch a movie. I told him where I was and since he too is in the music industry, he screamed at me for even accepting this producer’s invitation of performing there. “Run, run away from there as fast as you can… you have no idea what you’ve gotten yourself into!” And I actually ran! Well, I made some excuse that I was terribly unwell, took a chartered car and got home!

Me: Jesus! So its true? I mean, such people do exist in this industry?

Friend: They are everywhere Debbie! And not just in ‘this’ industry.

She narrated another story of a middle aged and married music producer who had asked her to sing for an album and produce some jingles with him.

Friend: One day he calls me up and tells me, “Reena and I haven’t been on very good term with each other lately…so I miss ‘that’ touch’…” I was like, whoa thats an open invitation! He even forced me to talk dirty to him over the phone! And when I refused, I didn’t get paid for the work that I had done…

Me: Life is tough here isn’t it?

Friend: Life is never tough if you are focussed on your purpose…

Me: And your purpose is?

Friend: I want to be one of the big names in the music industry in Mumbai…

She drifted away wistfully into a self-created reverie while I was left wondering if she is being naive or really driven. Is that how you feel when you really have a purpose in life? You tend not to notice life’s imperfections and carry on till you ‘get there’ someday? And how long do you have to ‘carry on’? How much do we have to tolerate? And more importantly, did I have a cause to defend? A purpose in life to fulfill? I sat in the restaurant searching for answers for another five minutes before the food arrived. And then, there was only the sumptuous Bengali food- Chitol Maacher Muittha, Mangshor Jholand Posto that I had to think of. My purpose then was to devour them as fast as I can because my stomach was growling!

is life always a question mark?

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