I am in awe of smokers. I am intrigued by the natural choreography their bodies assume as they pull out their packs, wrench out a solitary cigarette, look purposefully for a lighter, put the ciggy to their mouths, light it with a flourish, and emit a heavenly sigh.
Before they choke you, that is.
What’s fascinating is that the entire sequence takes less than twenty seconds. And it happens with the same languid aesthetic time after time after time.
I tried to do the same thing one (sorry dad, I stole from your pack) and looked so gauche, it wasn’t funny. First of all, the cigarette came out crooked, then the lighter didn’t obey me at the first flick, so I went at it with a vengeance till the entire room smelt like a gas chamber. Then I choked and spluttered, and then felt as if a part of my interiors was sucked out by vacuum.
Gosh, this was really complicated. Beats me how most of my team at work, my friends, my dad and my significant other do it with so much élan.
It intrigues me how the mere act of smoking can transform a gauche body into something that has rhythm and purpose. Take TV soaps, or even plays for example— I always find it odd when eight people stand in a semi-circle and have a conversation. No, I don’t watch them— I only did once when a friend of mine was playing a blue-eyed villain who plots to kill everyone from his wife to his daughter to his daughter’s lover… and stares at a fish tank while plotting his next move, smoking, and blowing rings on to a green-eyed siren. It worked, as he had something to do with his hands.
Yes, I agree. A cigarette is a good prop.
There are other uses too—smoking makes you look engaged, even if you are doing nothing. It gives you an exit option from potential psychos in a random gathering, with a, “Hey, I am stepping out for a smoke.”
What does someone like me say? “ Hey, I have to go munch a carrot”. Not cool.
No wonder I thought my dad was the coolest guy on earth while was growing up, and the only cool uncle I had was the one who smoked (I got a kick going and buying ciggies for him when I was eight or ten, although my grandma thought it was most unladylike for me to do so, and most ungentlemanly for him to ask me..)
As for the rest of the gentry, they were all vibhuti-wearing, sandhyavandanam-chanting, curd-rice eating, sabarimala-going, non-smoking uncles, who ironically, are all ageing gracelessly.
Instead my dad wore tees and jeans, smoked, played bridge (and tried hard to teach us)…and challenged us to the spelling of exorbitant and itinerary. I mean how cool can it get?
Soon, my brother and I went into wheezing zones, and dad was relegated to non-cool status, but he still goes on smoking…although he now lurks in corridors while doing so.
Years later, when I was on a backpacking spree in the hills of Nepal, our mountain-boy guide took us to his ramshackle hut up above, and fed us on rice wine, dal-rice and some local nepalese cigarettes.. I had a reluctant second puff, and felt as weird as I did years ago. It just didn’t work for me.
I resigned myself to the fact that a cigarette doesn’t go with my look. Also I am happy in the knowledge that my lungs are not being coated with stuff that I don’t want, and besides, I like breathing… The challenge is how not to smoke and still look cool.
And oh, btw—cigarette smoking is injurious to health… before I get sued by someone.