A rant is not a rave.
In fact, it’s not much of a party at all. Especially to those on the receiving end of one.
A rant can too often tip over into the realms of frothy-mouth, pop-eyed, arms-aloft demagoguery; the kind where the joy of pressure-valve-release quickly turns into an addiction of its own; where people begin to believe that what they have to say is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, so help me god I’m going to thump you if you dare interrupt me or object to what I’m saying because haven’t you been listening to what I’ve been saying for these last three hours. A rant, unfortunately, is usually a greased jello slide to standing in the middle of traffic junctions, waving torn slippers and ungrammatical placards while spitting phrases incoherently.
Especially if you’re a Parsi. Because, y’know, the phrase ‘mad Parsi’ is one word too long.
A good rant, however, is a thing of joy. It is more than just a catharsis of the angst you’ve been suppressing against a myriad issues and slights. It is more than just a way of letting your peers know that you too can pontificate on Matters Of Grave Importance, and would be doing so on national TV if somebody would just give you a chance. It is more than an easy way to attract attention at parties or divert attention from a conversation you don’t want to have.
No, a good rant is more than all this. It is like a slowly cooked biryani, crafted and refined over a period of time, with small doses of complementary additions resulting in a multi-layered concoction that explodes when you first come in touch with it, only to sate you slowly with its detailed and rich undertones.
A good rant is not just about anger (though that is its essential base), but about a carefully-honed indignation that channels outrage without toppling over into pious pomposity. A good rant is informative, its claims backed by a flood of details that have been verified already. A good rant is provocative, challenging its audience to respond and feeding upon that to rise to greater heights of oration. A good rant also has just a little bit of humour, to ease the harshness of its many declamations.
But more than anything else, a good rant is self-aware; it knows its limitations and the limit of its influence, it knows that it will not change the world but hopes to merely convert a few opinions, it knows that it is possible to rant on the most obscure and most navel-gazing of activities and interests, and it knows that there may be better wordsmiths out there that can evoke far greater passions. A good rant does not dream or believe in itself – it merely hopes.
And here’s the crucial bit – so huddle up and listen closely – it’s the ideal vehicle for a bawa. Because having an authoritative opinion on any subject, and arguing with oneself, the world and nearby walls is what bawas do best. And so, when one just needs to let rip after having witnessed another bone-headed act of common idiocy, people are more likely not to gag you with pillows if you’re a bawa, because – well, didn’t you read the bit about the redundant usage of ‘mad’ when describing us? People will nod and smile and let you finish, because they know nothing short of a brandy-drenched omelette is going to stop a ranting bawa from finishing his current rant.
So, unless you’ve got a boozy egg dish available ….