Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Good Enough

If I started naming reasons why I like Belle and Sebastian, I’d never stop. Obscure wit, mischievous word-play, profundity, melody. Music so light and fragile that it almost shatters upon listening. The fact that they personally answer fans’ questions on their website. (Most of their fans phrase their questions in grammatically correct and properly punctuated English, which in itself says something.) But to cut to the point, I like their endearing modesty.

“Think of it this way / You could either be successful or be us.” (Get Me Away From Here, I’m Dying)
“Nobody writes them like they used to / So it may as well be me” (same song)
“We’re four boys in our corduroys / We’re not terrific but we’re competent.” (This Is Just a Modern Rock Song)
They are almost deliberately small-time.

* * *

Some of us on the editorial board of our college magazine (myself among them) believed that we should try to be as unassuming as possible; do our best never to come across as being too self-important. In our Society of the Month columns we’ve always refrained from featuring ourselves. We resisted the temptation even when we were voted Society of the Year on Annual Day. (Yes I know I’m bragging here but this is my blog, not the magazine, and the rules are different.) One of our issues had a supplement containing a selection of blog posts by NUJS students. Almost everyone on the editorial board has their own blog, but we didn’t feature any of ours. These are just two examples. All I know is that at least for me this deliberate self-effacement wasn’t always easy. I guess genuine modesty doesn’t quite come naturally to me, and that’s something I’d like to change, but I value modesty in others.

* * *

Roaming around Bloomsbury one day last August, I saw Goodenough College, and it brought a smile to my face. Surrounded by schools and colleges screaming from a thousand websites and newspaper ads that they’re the best ever, Goodenough College was charmingly unpretentious. The sort of college where you go if you’re not gifted, influential or rich like your friends in high school, but still too proud to drop out.
Unfortunately, my romantic ideas were short-lived. Their Wikipedia page says that the college got its name from Frederick Goodenough, one of its founders. But to cap my dismay, the page has this box on top:
This article is written like an advertisement. Please help rewrite this article from a neutral point of view. For blatant advertising that would require a fundamental rewrite to become encyclopedic, use {{db-spam}} to mark for speedy deletion. (April 2008)
Sheesh. Talk about a letdown.

4 comments:

Rahul Saha said...

"..I value modesty in others." - Oh so that's why you're friends with me.

Pratiti said...

Bigger letdown than madhyamiks' end. And to think the thought of that college comforted me when I got depressed about how useless yet eager to prove myself useful I am.

Sroyon said...

@Saha: Go figure.

@Pratiti: I had hopes in that college myself, for a Masters or something.

@The world at large: What? Two comments? That's it?

Shrabasti Banerjee said...

Lol, I most certainly would have commented, had I not been in the middle of my dratted exams:P. HUGE letdown, though. :(.