Thursday, February 08, 2007

A new l'eau

We couldn't help laughing at how the whole Shilpa Shetty episode got blown completely out of proportion, finally ending in the lady getting seriously delusional. ("I'd like to thank Big Brother for giving me the opportunity to make my country PROUD"). Proud? Proud of a big brother winner??? That would disgraceful, even for a country of an average IQ of 80. I watched the videos on youtube - yeah I'm a closet reality show junkie- and I couldn't see much racism. In any case, If I got paid 3.5 crores, there's not a word in any language on this planet or elsewhere that would offend me. Seriously! I'd be willing to put up with mild physical abuse too.

Anyway, we were sitting in the cafeteria discussing how it's nice to be part of a downtrodden race. We retain the liberty to be racist and yet carry the license to cry foul when anybody else indulges in it. The topic then turned to our prejudices. How we judge people based on established stereotypes. The gregarious punjabi who dances all night to variants of the same song, invariably containing the words kudi, munda and chak de phatte. The enterprising but noisy Gujju opening motels all over the world. The bong whose intelligence is only surpassed by his pretentiousness. The mallu who is wire-transferring money from some arabic speaking country. The gult whose summit of accomplishment is the H1B. So on. Stereotypes are extremely handy. They simplify life and give you a reason to not be all understanding and deep and insightful and all those terrible things. Then it struck me that I'm not really aware of what stereotypes are associated with my breed. I thought it would be a nice exercise to discuss that. "Unambitious", "Rude", "Insular" , "Narrow minded" were the spontaneous responses. It was not funny. I so badly wanted to protest and do some brand building. But I have this overpowering need to act like the guy with no allegiances. So I just shut up and grinned like it didn't matter.

Two afternoons later, the Cauvery verdict was declared. Suddenly all the buildings had Karnataka flags on them. (Seriously why does a state need a flag. For that matter why does anybody need a flag?) People were scampering looking for the shortest path home. Some were memorising some kannada sentences. And not entirely in jest too. It suddenly hit me, we are pretty mean.

I don't know what the verdict really meant. I'm sure not many people do. Even if the court had said 500 TMCs for you and 800 for TN, we still would have cried ourselves hoarse. It never was about how much water I need. I suspect it's more about whether I get the bigger share. So next Monday, we'll be on the streets ravaging some effigies and shouting some unimaginative slogans (Beke beku , nyaaya beku????). Vatal Nagaraj will be stop trains and be a complete jerk. Sa Ra Govindu will rouse all the auto drivers into action. We'll all get together and get noticed. If you see a burning Volvo, don't bother calling the fire department, we've got only 200 TMCs.
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