Monday, 1 February 2010

Practically Marzipan: In which I meditate upon the end of the world

(An edited version of this appeared in the New Indian Express on the 30th of January.)

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Recently someone I know, on being handed a foil-wrapped product*, discovered that the date of expiry printed on it was the year 2012. Uncontrollable giggling ensued. Since then, I have checked the expiration dates of every perishable good that has come my way. An alarming number of them seem to forsee 2012 as the year of their demise. 2012 is, of course, the year the world is expected to end, or at least change drastically, according to a much-debated prediction in an ancient Mayan calendar.

This is not, of course, the first time the world has been scheduled to end. The 1000AD, 1666AD and 1843AD apocalypses all failed to take place. 1999 saw the release of that dreadful Arnold Schwarzneggar film, End of Days, and also Y2K hysteria. I was fourteen years old when 1999 turned into 2000 and I remember being terribly disappointed that nothing had happened. I had gotten all dressed up for a party that turned out to be a dead bore, the world as we knew it had not ended, and our computer still functioned no less efficiently than it had the week before.

If 2012 is not our collective expiration date we still don't have long to wait. Various relatives of mine have been complaining for years that we are in the Kalyug and surely it has to end some time. Isaac Newton apparently used the Bible to calculate that the world would end in 2060, giving us an extra half-century should the Mayans be proved to have gotten it wrong. I am support of this particular date: in 2060 I hope to be a venerable old lady with a colourful past – it seems to me that that is the perfect time of life in which to enjoy an apocalypse. I am glad that the apocalypse seems set to occur during my lifetime. It would be a pity to miss such a major event.

But it is looking more and more likely that 2012 is the year. Over the last few years there have been a number of signs and portents to indicate that we were coming to the end of all things. Reality TV. The gradual decline of Liverpool Football Club. The monstrous regiment of women who were behind the pink chaddi campaign. At the beginning of this year Dubai's Burj Khalifa was opened – the world's tallest building (if the Tower of Babel story from the Bible were not warning enough).Most damningly there are both global warming and the extreme cold wave sweeping across Europe this winter.

If the world is to end in a couple of years (and by now I have convinced myself that this is unavoidable) I'd like it to be dramatic. None of this anticlimactic Y2K nonsense. I expect, at the very least, a universal deluge, celestial bodies being swallowed up, and if possible some rampaging ice giants. I have enough faith in humanity to believe that we'll go out with a bang, not a whimper – could the race responsible for Rakhi ka Swayamvar really settle for less?



* Read "condom". I'm never quite sure how far I'm supposed to self-censor in these columns, and I tend to go overboard.

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Have you been noticing any portents of doom recently? Mention in comments, please, I know I've left lots out.

4 comments:

mits said...

from your blog about 2012 that too people are saying 12th dec, the same day has great value in my life because its my birthday. so i think that world should end, my gift to world. seriously am very frustrated with the present world, people are like dead log don't know how to be happy, they have full of ego, greedy and no love.

Vishal said...

The epitaph "Dead a day before the end of the world" must be the cruelest joke in the world.

buddy said...

rakhi sawants ubiquitousness?

Aishwarya said...

Mits - Indeed.

Vishal - The cruelest joke in the world for exactly a day?

Buddy - Rakhi has her merits! Rakhi Ka Swayamvar had none.