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10th May 1998

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Aishwarya Rai
Aishwarya: still the girl next door?
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Our Man in LondonRebirth of cool..........

What is cool ? What defines a generation's attitudes and behaviours, their idols and icons - in other words, what's hot and what's not ?Why is Jack Nicholson cool ? Why does Elvis's sneer linger in the memory ? Or Johnny Rotten's screaming punk sneer? Why is Frank Sinatra's Vegas lounge act cool ? Every generation has its own modes of behaviour and patterns of life. The defining prototypes of cool were present in every decade. The Sixties had hippies and the Seventies had disco ; the Eighties had yuppies and the Nineties ?

What's cool in the Nineties? Well, the Nineties seem to have fallen prey to that disease known as "fin de siecle", the ailment that strikes the world every hundred years at the end of a century. The symptoms are confusion, a lack of defining styles or strong trends; a tendency for things to get blended and generally mixed up. Leaf through a copy of Vogue or any other fashion magazine. Trends come and go in anxious cycles...... miniskirts, flares, tartan, clogs, crew-necks, v-necks, polo-necks. Think back to the previous decades. Weren't there more defining styles back then ? One thing came into fashion and stayed in fashion for at least a year.

Now , fashion pundits circle like piranhas in a goldfish bowl, ever hungry to proclaim the Next Big Thing ....which is in reality the Same Old Thing - merely re-packaged and resold to a generation that was too young to experience it the second time around. Actually things are so confused that it is now cool to like things that are uncool.

Take nightclubs for example. Time was that you could usually depend on a club to play the dance music that was popular and danceable. The thought of hearing Matt Monroe at a club was laughable. But last year sa rash of clubs that sprang up around the world that played nothing but easy listening music. I'm talking people like Johnny Mathis, Pat Boone, even Jim Reeves. And the people going to these clubs weren't old fogeys who went there to do their knitting - they were the ultra-hip, the ultra-trendy city sophisticates who donned their viyella and polyester ribbed vests and their baggy corduroys and happily strolled along to listen to something that wasn't hard and heavy.

Amazing. The Nineties are the age of plundering the past to create your own present. Ask yourself why there are so many cover versions in the charts these days. It's not because there is a dearth of good songwriters. It's because the people in the business of selling records find it far easier to flog a song that we all have a pre-set emotional and mental response to , than to go to the trouble of building up an image that will sell records. Thus we have endless versions of classic tunes - all the Unchained Melodys, the Jive Bunnies, the robotic Ace of Base re- mixes going around. This is why Dr.Dre plunders classic beats from George Clinton and Leon Sanders ; this is why Annie Lennox, Duran Duran , Bryan Ferry and Rod Stewart all release albums of cover versions .

It is the age of the backlash, the age of micro-trends. Remember back in school when you were either into Nikes or Reeboks ? Things have changed a bunch. Now big name labels aren't cool anymore. What's in are small and distinctive brands that have a connoisseur , non-mass market approach to advertising. They take pride in setting themselves apart from the crowd, and try and reach out to an ever-increasing segment of people that don't want to be part of the in-crowd and all wear the same thing. What they don't realise is that all their doing is replacing size with etherealness in their search for what's cool. ...........

Dear DaughterStop hearts from breaking

My darling Daughter,

I wonder whether you have read the poems by Emily Dickinson. Many of them are quite sad, 'cause her own life was unhappy. But there is one poem of hers that is so needed in today's world where people are always more concerned with their own enjoyment and happiness.

In a sense it reflects the need to practise what she says in these troubled and sad times of ours. I will quote the verse to you daughter:

"If I can stop one heart from breaking, I shall not live in vain,

If I can ease one life the aching, or cool a pain, or help one lonely person into happiness, I shall not live in vain".

Today, daughter, in our own country when the ongoing conflict is creating so much unhappiness, fear and sadness don't you think that if we follow the thoughts in that verse we will at least in some little way reduce the suffering of those around us. Let us try to put into practice more effectively our concern for others, give a little of our precious time to the old and sickly, make happy for a little while their day. I am sure many of the young, can find out the neglected who are living in their town and organize some type of group that can visit them occasionally, read them the daily papers, take them some food they like - show that they care.

I read in the papers a notice by some Company saying that they will arrange for the Senior citizens, various facilities such as taking them for entertainment, sports etc., and I wondered at the way our traditional society has changed. An impersonal organization is now promising to provide the love and concern that we as individuals should.

Maybe I am suggesting something difficult, but I often feel that though we talk about our traditional values and our religions the essential love and concern we should show to others is sadly lacking.

We often don't even have the time to say a thank you or to smile a greeting. I hope daughter, you and your young generation will reflect a little on the verse I have quoted and 'stop one heart from breaking, one life from aching, one lonely person from despair.'

- Ammi.

More Mirror Magazine * Missing you (Sue's Story ) * Platonic or not? (Kenny's world) * 'I'm your girl next-door'

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