I often wonder if the way we converse with our acquaintances in this day and age has been the same since the beginning of civilization or was it different in different ages.
Like for example today we start by asking “what’s up” or “how are you” and then going on towards discussing the movers and shakers of our times (when of course, we have exhausted all other topics of the general well being of each other).
Ever wondered what would it have been in old times?
If say, we were living in the age of the Mughals – what would people have talked about? Something like – “Birbal ji ka naya kissa suna kya?” (Did you hear about the new antic of Birbal?) or “Tansen ji ka naya raag suna kya?” (Did you hear the new melody from Tansen?) or may be “Salim saahab ka Anarkali ke saath kya chakkar hai?” (What’s the scene between Salim and Anarkali?).
Or say if it were the age of the Romans, then the topics might have been like “Heard that Caesar is spending more time with Cleopatra than with Calpurnia” or “What’s showing at Colosseum these days? or “Heard about the new book from Plato” (what a pity though that not anyone could buy and read it!).
(Though I wonder how the stories would be leaked to public in the absence of these 24 X 7 news channels that we have now! Did people have access to scoops while they were fresh or they got to know about it after the newsmakers were already ahead with a new one!)
Now, if we think of the basic human nature, then I don’t think that the kind of topics we talk about, has really changed over the ages. Nothing captures the public imagination more than the scandals – doesn’t matter what kind of scandal!
I don’t know whether it’s the feeling of intrigue or of morality or what else which attracts people to digging out secrets of other’s (especially celebrities) lives. But whatever it is, it makes them famous (or infamous) for all centuries to come! (There’s this saying in hindi “Badnaam hue to kya naam to hua” which means – there is fame even in being infamous!)
Now, coming back to the topics of discussions of the various times, I thought of these:
Ancient Egypt – The festival of drunken-ness, the creation of mythology (Ra, Bastet, Thoth and so many others with bodies which were part animal and part human..)
India – Mauryan Empire – The intrigue of Chandragupta marrying the Greek princess Helen, of Chanakya destroying the invincible Nanda rulers, of the vishkanyas, of the university of Takshshila (Taxila), later of Ashoka embracing Buddhism after the massacre of Kalinga..there were so many things to talk about!
I am so overwhelmed with the desire to start reading history in detail, while writing all this that I would now have to end this post. If I have tickled your imagination too, then probably you would also start looking for the secrets in the folds of history and if you dig out something in the vast “sites” (pun intended) of internet, please do post a comment!