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     Volume 4 Issue 68 | October 21, 2005 |

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Straight Talk

Forbidden Fruit

Nadia Kabir Barb

Starbucks has never looked more tempting or inviting. In fact every time I drive by a Starbucks or any café for that matter, I look enviously at their clientele lounging around chatting with friends or reading, sipping their lattes and cappuccinos and nibbling on utterly scrumptious looking chocolate cakes or muffins. No this is not the result of fasting that has made me take this kind of voyeuristic pleasure in watching people in coffee shops and look longingly at the all things contained inside it, but the fact that the doctor has struck these food items off my diet. I was telling myself that even when I was allowed to drink tea or coffee I never really frequented Starbucks as I am not a coffee drinker in the first place. Therefore, this sudden Latte envy could only be one thing the "forbidden fruit" syndrome! Yes, I was suffering from the "I really want what I can't and shouldn't have" disorder. I mean even the oranges that are in my fruit bowl seem to beckon to me to peel the moist skin off and bite into its tangy flesh. As you may have guessed that too is on my detestable list of "do not eat". In my case it wasn't just metaphoric, it was literally forbidden fruit!

It just seems to be one of those things that is inbuilt into the human psyche whereby we have this penchant for things inaccessible and unobtainable. If you think about it, even as a child we tend to push the boundaries of what is acceptable and what isn't. If your parents tell you not to write on the wall or take your shoes off in the garden, then suddenly it becomes the single most important thing on your mind and you find yourself unable to resist the temptation despite knowing the consequences. Tell a teenager that the person they fancy is unsuitable, and you have a recipe for disaster as at that age everyone feels that they are the best judge of their own feelings and know what is right or wrong for them. You can guarantee that the object of their affection will suddenly take on virtues they probably didn't have prior to your objection and this will make them even more desirable to the teenager in question! And this is not necessarily restricted to just teenagers, there are so many people who tend to fall for people who are unattainable. Sometimes we find people desirable simply because they are not good for us, or are beyond our reach. We seem to have a perverseness in us whereby we want what we can't have. Otherwise why would I be holding a candle for Gregory Peck who a) was a Hollywood actor (therefore beyond my reach), b) was much too old for me, and c) also happens to be deceased!! See it all comes back to the forbidden fruit concept.

Now I wonder if Taslima Nasreen would have had as much publicity if her writing had not created so much controversy. The minute a fatwa was put on her in the same way that Salman Rushdie had a fatwa put on him for his book "Satanic Verses", people's curiosity became aroused. It wasn't even a question of how well written the books were or not or even really whether people found the contents objectionable, it was the fact that they were considered unacceptable by others that made the books more sought-after. In the same way when there is a music video that is banned it somehow manages to generate an inordinate amount of interest. In the eighties the song "Relax" by a group called Frankie Goes to Hollywood was banned and sure enough it became a big hit. Everyone wanted to know what was so risqué about the song that made it so controversial. This just ensured its success. I think we are born with an inherent inquisitiveness about things that seems to increase as soon as we are barred from that information. "No" is a word that most people find difficult deal with!

Cannabis and Marijuana is only the tip of the ice berg when it comes to banned substances. Sadly in some areas this lends to its glamorisation and appeal simply by being prohibited. There is an ongoing debate about whether by making these substances legal, they will reduce the mystery surrounding it and thereby make it less glamorous and also make it possible to regulate. In the same way pre-marital sex is not accepted in our society however this does not mean it does not exist. Nor does the fact that extra-marital affairs are considered unacceptable stop people from entering into such relationships. Once again we are back to the forbidden fruit phenomenon. It just adds to the allure of doing something you shouldn't be doing.

For my part, I think I am just going to have to resist my temptation to stop by Starbucks and buy myself a tall latte with added whipped cream and a chocolate muffin on the side despite my desire to be rebellious and contrarian. And the oranges in my fruit bowl will have to beckon to someone else as I have decided that sometimes forbidden fruit should remain just that. Maybe I can tell myself that it is character building or something similarly noble…

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