Friday, October 31, 2008
Being an Indian
I have been ranting and raving about the pros and cons (mostly, sadly) of being a Bihari. And it struck me how hard; or rather intricate is the state of being an Indian. Suddenly, Jinnah’s two nation theory seems like the babble of a deaf-mute 5 year old. India is a thousand nations. And maybe it will be divided on those grounds someday. That is definitely not I want. But who knows what happens next.
People fight. That is an indelible trait embedded in our genes, I guess. Allow me to digress. I am a not-so-regular viewer of an incredibly sarcastic TV show with elements of dark and sometimes twisted and sick humour in it, called SouthPark. In this show, a couple of episodes titled Go God Go I and II were aired some time back. It started with Richard Dawkins and atheism. And after much hullaballoo over Darwinism and Intelligent Design, one of the characters gets to the Future, centuries from now, as a result of a freak accident. And guess what was going on in the future? People stopped believing in God or religion, they said Oh My Science instead of Oh My God, BUT, they were still fighting. They were fighting over something called the Ultimate Question, and whose answer was the right one. The bottom-line is obvious. Coming back to the big bad world, while people all fight over different issues, one issue per region, in India, we seem to have the complete range. We have religion, obviously, the numero uno. Followed by caste, which has many sub divisions. Language is a one; the Aryan-Dravidian nonsense is another. I firmly believe that even this Aryan invasion theory was a diabolical fabrication by the Brits to further ease their job in India. And how can I forget women. Men and women in India have been fighting a silent war, and one look at the sex-ratio would tell you what the casualty count is. Around 35 million females. Damn all the men who consider women as second-rate citizens. A woman is a mother. Period. And nothing else can surpass that. (Feminists, please don’t jump at my throat if you think I was implying that a women is only good enough to bear and rear children)
Hindu Jaagaran Morcha. An outfit to avenge the deaths of Hindus by IM/SIMI. I felt weird, sick and confused, all at the same time, when I heard of their doings. So that is how a decent, law-abiding, patriotic Muslim feels when some jackass who claims to be a believer in God and a follower of Islam blows up something. I am aghast and ashamed. And thank the Almighty that this was not swept under the rugs. Speaking of terror and terrorists, we seem to have almost all kinds of them.
1. Good old Islamic terrorist
2. The greenhorn Hindu “jihadi”
3. The Naxalites , MCC, CPI-ML , PWG and so on
4. The Upper-caste army of Landlords who came into existence to counter no.3
5. The Khalistani militants, which I guess are not as dormant as commonly perceived
6. Naga Terrorists (Aren’t they Christians?)
8. BD - If you rape a nun in the name of God, you are a terrorist for me.
9. Every bloody rioter
My apologies if I forgot to mention anyone.
That’s terrorism in diversity for you people. Be Proud. You could only have that in a country like India. “It happens only in India”! And we only need Buddhist, Jain and Parsee terrorists to complete the beautiful picture. No offence intended!
Whenever somebody blows up or kills someone in the name of something or the other, I am reminded of a dialogue from the movie Sarfarosh, where the character called Inspector Saleem says so”Apne desh ke dushman bohot kismet waale hain, unhe bas hathiyar bhejne ki zaroorat hai, ladne waale bohot mil jayenge” (The enemies of India are really lucky, as they have to furnish the guns and the bombs only, the soldiers to fight their wars are in plenty). Very true.
A thousand curses and eternal damnation to the media. They are the worst amongst the worst. Show me the whole picture, I’ll choose the part which seems right to me. I would like to know whether the ad for the grade IV examination conducted by the railways was really brought out only in the Hindi newspapers or not. But I don’t think I am ever going to discover that through the media. Is investigative journalism dead, or in a coma? All the media seems to show is what depresses, demoralize and disgusts, sometimes all at the same time. Is it that hard to look for stories that are good for the Indian spirit?
Ever heard of the word “illad”? Not Homer’s Iliad. I-L-L-A-D. This is the one word that I absolutely hate with every fiber of my body. This word stands for one of the major flaws with the mindset of the Indians (hailing from the states other than Karnataka, Kerala, TN and AP). This is like blasphemy for me. For those of you, who have not heard of it, an “illad” is the more affectionate term used to address (indirectly) the people of the Southern states, or “South-India”. It was quite a commonly used part of the vocabulary of the average Manipal-ite. Every time I hear it, I feel as if somebody used the invective of the mother-sister type for me. Even though I hail from a state up north, it stings. And the morons who drop it at the drop of hat from their mouths evidently do not realize how wrong and criminally insensitive they are. A few months ago, while dining in a restaurant, I overheard a girl saying” Delhi ke neeche sab south hai.” (Everything below Delhi is South for me). Sure you do bitch. Who the hell taught you geography, and history for that matter? I would go wild with ecstasy if the words “North-Indian” and “South-Indian” were officially banned.And while I am on the subject of name calling, I equally loathe and detest how Indians from the North-East get labeled as "Chinkies" . That is again , seriously fucked up . They are treated as if they are foreigners , no wonder some of them do want to secede from India .When will we stop seeing each other as illad's, chinkie's,bhaiyya's,ghati's and whatever-other-stupid-names-we-have ?
Amidst all the anti-Bihari vibe tingling the nation’s spine, sometimes I feel like a Jew. I guess the displaced Kashmiri Pandits feel the same, refuges in their own home. The Sikhs during ‘84 riots must have felt the same. Also the Muslims in ‘93 and ‘02. And the Christians in Orissa and in Karnataka. I bet the busload of elderly Marathi women and men touring Bihar, who were caught in the middle of the ruckus, felt something close. At least they escaped unscathed, thanks to the local MP and the Police. And I am alive, amen to that. Which brings this thought to my disturbed mind, who’s going to be the next “Jew” of India?
Amidst the chaos and the cacophony, I often wonder, when, or rather how would it end? Would it ever end? Or Is this the beginning of the End? For a guy like me, who thinks a lot about these things (contemplation, retrospection and introspection being one of my preferred activities to engage at leisure), for whom these things matter, it is extremely disturbing. I am often lost; thinking about how things could have been or rather should have been. While people often think about Superheroes and fantasize about being one (including yours truly), I, more often than not, end up conjuring up a fantasy of a Super India. An India that was economically stronger, with a uniform distribution of wealth. An India that beat the living daylights out of China and was significantly more powerful (In my fantasies we annihilated China in 1962 and asked Tibet to join the Indian Union, and they gleefully did., ditto in the Bangladesh war, and we also did not lose the piece of land now known as Pok). An India which files thousands of patents a year. An India which spear heads the development of green technology. An India which sends a manned mission to Mars before others do. As secular and democratic as no nation has ever been. And so on, and so forth. What an incorrigible day-dreamer am I! Which is why when jolted back to the real India, I actually feel physical pain. I feel a throbbing in my head and a searing pain in my heart.
The reason why I don’t watch a lot of football or have a favourite team – Does my country play this game? Does any club from my country play this game, on an international level? Then who do I root for? Why should I scream the blood out of my lungs? No Tricolor, No testosterone-driven-adrenaline-powered-crazy-cheers. As a result I am an unbiased and a neutral spectator of Football. This is a testament to how insanely tricolored-track my mind is. And I am proud of it. I also wonder whether not being such a die-hard, somewhat jingoistic patriot would have actually been good for my mental health.
When I am so bogged down by the bloody mess that we live in, I often think of the easiest way out. Quite obviously, things wouldn’t get fixed over the period of a 3 hour sorry ass Indian movie, with people from all over India singing “Saare jahan se accha” or the national anthem, arms linked together and all. I am not suicidal or even close to suicidal but there are times when I wish I would get knocked down by a speeding bus. Or get blown to bits in the next bomb blast, assuming another one takes place. At times, it is all I think, how wonderful it will be to disappear from the face of this earth and never ever come back (temporarily though, because I am a believer of the Hindu theory of the cycle of birth and death). Am I unhinged to think like this? I guess a short trip to the loony bin wouldn’t hurt that much.:) At least, I would be in the company of certified lunatics, who have the failed, the “test-of-sanity” of this whacky world.
I heard about some book or the other through a pal in which the author anatomizes the concept of India, and concludes that it exists in theory alone. I tried to Google more about this, but couldn’t find anything concrete. But it does make me think a lot these days. My increasingly depressing thoughts aside, this is a serious question indeed. Is the concept of India as a secular, democratic, multi-cultural and multi-lingual nation too utopian to be true? Or is this just a phase which will pass over, and we will get back to our old “chalta-hai” attitude. Is it just plain old crazy me who is having doubts? My belief system has taken such a severe hit that the words India and Indian bring a sardonic smile to my lips these days .
Being Indian is no joke.
Time to curl back in my cocoon and let my imagination run wild. “What ho, Jeeves! Bring me a stiff w & s. Pip pip Cruel World. “