Thursday, July 15, 2010

Give me back my zero!

I hadn't heard of Joel Stein until I came across a piece he wrote for Time called My Own Private India. It was one of those pieces that make you prime yourself for a laugh or two, but you end up not even cracking a smile. After I finished wondering about the point of that whole piece, I did concede a belated grin; not because the commentary was humorous, but because it poked fun at Indians and that was going to elicit a lot of drama. We weren't going to dismiss this insult and move on, because our skin might come in different shades of brown but it's uniformly thin as muslin. We are a nation that took to the streets when Billu Barber was released because, well, it offended barbers by calling them barbers.

I was hoping for boycotts, statements of outrage issued from the highest diplomatic echelons, burnt effigies, garlanded donkeys. Inexplicably, nothing happened. Not even that customary, time-honoured email forward that says "17% of NASA engineers are Indians. Indians gave the world Zero...now go join this facebook page to register your protest". Just when I was going to give up hope some dude called Rahul Parikh appointed himself leader of the chest-beating orchestra and wrote this masterpiece in overreaction. His hyperbolic sign-off read "...the Statue of Liberty should shed a tear. And Mahatma Gandhi just did". Just to educate the ignorant Joel Stein, Mahatma Gandhi was our former minister of Trivial Pursuits and Hypersensitivity.

I have a feeling that 5 years hence, when the two authors read their respective pieces, Parikh will be the more embarrassed one.
Post a Comment