Of Diamonds and Hearts

diamonds-and-hearrts2.bmpGrowing up in an atmosphere where Diwali meant lights, crackers, Kali Puja, sweets and a thousand guests, I was understandably surprised when I heard the about the concept of ‘taash parties’ (parties where one plays games of cards) a year ago. I come from a family where almost everyone is a professor and would rather engage in intellectual battles than party. An unspoken rule which sternly admonishes any type of gambling kept me away from such activities. However, being a fairly informed person, I prided myself for knowing about things which I would not be interested in, but took account of anyway. So it was slightly disconcerting to realize that I had no clue of what a taash party was and had never heard of it either.

Apparently, for all those as unaware as I was (hopefully that would include some people, it gets lonely remaining alone on the ignorant front), a taash party is a party or a ‘get-together’ of a group of friends usually around Diwali. A variety of taash games can be chosen from and according to the extent of their pockets, they wager money and make merry as food and drink flows in. Some taash parties include beer and the like, and depending on the amount of money the assembled party can afford (or alternatively boast of affording), they gamble, and as is usually the case, they win some, lose some. Sometimes these parties spiral out of control where either the combined effect of alcohol and/or tempers that run high cause what started out as an enjoyable game, to turn ugly. As usually the more enthusiastic players are in the age group of 16-28 years, borrowing and lending of money takes place and when an individual cannot pay back in time, it becomes an unpleasant and harassing experience.

What might appear a slightly biased point of view, but is only a baffled wonderment on my part is, why a taash party? At the risk of sounding presumptuous, to me taash parties appear only a frivolous indulgence of the extremely rich and infinitely ineffectual. It appears very unflattering to me as a youth to see fellow minds engaged in such an inconsequential activity. Taash is something one plays on long train journeys while one has nothing else to do. Gambling mindlessly at an age where they aren’t even earning their own money, and even if they are, not stable enough to blow it away so, causes me to scorn them. It makes me deeply contemptuous of the amount of time they seem to have to while away in an act which has no constructive end. It horrifies me to see the level of inanity we inadvertently slip into, indulging in frivolities with potentially dire consequences. It is a senseless rut that we seem to be getting ourselves into, where we are suddenly turning into a society which is degrading fast, with the advent of more and more liberties unfortunately coupled with a seeming lack of responsibility or concern. There is so much to be done, so much to be learnt, an overwhelming amount of social questions to be dealt with, a staggering quantity of duties to be undertaken—and the youth whiles away it’s time deciding between the queen of hearts and the king of spades. It is understandable that recreation is important, but it is sad that something as trivial and unimportant as a lazy game of cards should become the infatuation of many.

Indrani Basu