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Grey is a colour that is often overlooked for its simplicity. However, Grey is Jack in the pack of cards and can convey a sense of stability and reliability, as well as a sense of ambiguity and uncertainty. It is a neutral colour that can be warm or cool, light or dark, and can range from a soft dove grey to a deep charcoal. Always been a colour that exudes sophistication and elegance. However, there is so much more to this colour than what meets the eye. In this blog, I aim to explore and display the versatility and elegance of this timeless colour, from its use in multiple contexts, to its symbolism in art, literature and LIFE! The many shades and nuances of grey make it truly a colour that stands the test of time and cuts through multiple moulds.

The Mystery of Grey

As an age-old practice, handed down from generation to generation we have always resorted to create a divide – good and bad, truth and lies, white or black, 1 or 0, up or down, left or right, light or dark … so on and so forth, you get the drill. From our parents making us binary in the name of grilling in ideologies of righteousness into our brains, to our teachers schooling us about right and wrong, our ingrained training has necessarily been that of extremism, this or that, here or there, instead of being in the middle, somewhere! While the goal posts stand far apart and the starting and ending points are wide ranging, the real action is in the middle of it all – that’s where ‘Grey’ takes birth and thrives!

For all the stories and ballads crying out loud, that life is all rainbows and unicorns, with candy floss clouds and angels flying around sprinkling fairy dust around, it is probably the unpopular opinion to put out, but once one does get a flavour of ‘real life’, life is but a sea of grey, with teeny tiny bits of black and white sprinkled here and there.

“Grey is the Queen of colours, because she makes everyone else look good!” – Helen Van Wyk

Yes, ‘Grey’, - one of the most non-enterprising colours to the average mind or if offered as a part of a pack to a bunch of kids, the most non-appealing - who would by default jump at the sight of blues and pinks or reds and greens. However, as life progresses, the depth and the true character of this colour reveals itself. A neutral colour, created by mixing black and white, yet it is far from dull or boring. Rather a colour that possesses a unique and complex character, often misunderstood. To amplify my thoughts and belief, here are just some ways, grey finds its presence in every walk of life:

  • In fashion, grey is a popular colour for both men and women's clothing.

  • Also, an important colour in interior design and used to create a variety of moods, depending on the shade and context. Lighter shades of grey can create a calming and soothing atmosphere, while darker shades can create a sense of drama and sophistication.

  • In nature, grey is often associated with rocks, stones, and concrete. Grey is also a popular colour for animals, such as elephants, whales, and wolves. These animals use their grey colour to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators.

  • Grey is a colour that is often associated with sadness and melancholy. This is because grey skies and rainy days can create a sombre atmosphere. However, grey can also be used to create a sense of calm and tranquillity. In fact, many meditation and yoga studios use shades of grey to create a peaceful environment for their clients.

  • Important even in the world of technology and often used in user interfaces, as it provides a neutral background that does not distract from the content. A popular colour for electronics, such as laptops and smartphones, as it is both practical and stylish. In fact, Apple's iconic "Space Grey" colour has become a symbol of the company's design aesthetic.

I guess sometimes in a sea of mediocrity, one has to take the fall, to make the rest stand out and shine. In the world of colours, that colour is Grey!

In literature, grey is often used as a symbol of ambiguity and uncertainty. Characters who are described as "grey" are often seen as morally ambiguous, neither completely good nor completely bad. Grey can also be used to describe situations that are complex and difficult to understand. For example, the "grey area" between right and wrong is a common theme that we observe on a day to day basis. The law creates the confines within which we are expected to operate, but the loopholes, the grey areas, are what make everything interesting and that’s where people make a killing. In relationships, between the good and the bad memories & experiences, the highs and lows of moods, a lifetime is lived right through!

In our thinking and neural functioning too – we talk about Grey Matter and White Matter in our brain. While the White Matter is largely responsible for transmitting signals to the other portions of the brain, the spinal cord and the other parts of the body, it is the Grey Matter that is largely responsible for receiving information and regulating outgoing information, the one that is responsible for your decision making, controlling your movement, memory and emotions. Coincidence, sure, but that’s the magic of this superlative colour – Grey, assumes importance in any and every place!

Coming to my favourite aspect – relationships and all that they bring with them! Whether the turbulent seas between friendship and love, or the unwritten rules of respect and disrespect, the transitionary phases of a parent becoming a friend or a boss becoming a mentor, all of these cases have so many grey areas, that one can never be sure of what to do, what not to do, what extent to go to or where to draw a line and consequently getting stuck in the doldrums of being stuck between a rock and a hard place, while life rolls by!

E.L. James was indeed conservative naming her book 50 Shades of Grey, coz the reality is that there are just so many more shades of grey, as the world we live in, the systems we follow, the mindsets we fall prey to are all grey. Our foods are so called healthy and sugar free, but then they aren’t; our politics is supposedly progressive, until it isn’t and relies on orthodox and regressive means to cater to the vote banks and getting back to power, our religion, faith, culture and upbringing is all supposedly encompassing, oh but only till it doesn’t put it in harm’s way and when it does, its each one for themselves even if at the cost of someone else. Some religion advocates idol worship, the other doesn’t, one encourages sacrifice in the form of life, the other in the form of fasting endlessly, all in the name of God, called again by a multitude of names, instead of propagating humanity, empathy, kindness as a means to an end, an end of a much better place to live and breathe in!

Truth is multi-layered and is based on context and who is in charge of the narrative, relationships are conditional with clear asterisks highlighting that conditions apply, treatment in any aspect of the world is biased and subject to your background, your financial strength, your connections and not essentially on merit – so what are we talking about black or white, this side or that, when its all a mess of royal proportions with no clear-cut absolute verdict. Hence, the strong affinity towards the colour Grey as I grow up and navigate through life.

However, I would like to sign off, on the food for thought, that if possible, please be a spot of colour in someone’s grey, a reason they smile, a reason they live to fight another day!

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