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Wannabe a new-age Indian

Thursday, March 24, 2011

I know countless people who refer to the act of being on their honeymoon as ‘mooning’, and each time – I react. Because before I encountered the mooning verb of the honey kind – I only knew the mooning of the buttocks kind. This western slang refers to the act of displaying one's bare buttocks by removing clothing, e.g. by lowering trousers and underpants, usually bending over. Mostly to express protest, scorn, disrespect, but can also simply be done for shock value or fun. (Wikipedia)

This difference in meaning actually delights me because thank God this is not one of those instances that displays the Indian wannabeism. For once we are willing to stick to our own definitions!

Speaking of wannabeism - why are we so desperate to claim all the Indians around the world??? Fine claim the NRIs. I grant you that. But what contribution did you make to fourth, fifth or even second-generation Indians? Other than some DNA matter that most likely will only rear its head when they acquire Diabetes in their thirties or suffer massive coronaries?

And it’s the media that’s largely to blame. How familiar is the “Indian girl runner up in swimsuit round of Milwaukee beauty contest” ? Then you read on to discover she’s something like a fourth-generation Indian – whose great grandfather on the maternal side migrated from India some centuries ago. So what makes her Indian? The genetic Indian stamp somewhere in her DNA? Oh well, then all Americans are Europeans and all Australians are English. And oh by that yardstick – a large number of Indians are East Europeans, Central Asians, Arabs, Chinese, and part Portuguese as well. Ever see Mongolia claiming Genghis Khan’s descendants rule bollywood? I don’t think so. Ethnicity and national identities are a very dynamic phenomenon. Give a couple of hundred years and new races and nationalities will emerge. Educated Indians know it. You do don’t you?

But I am going way too far with this. I know that our thinking is less complicated. It comes from a natural social tendency to affiliate ourselves with anything popular and claim our claim upon it. How many times have I cringed when my own relatives go – “you know that xyz personality? I am related to him. He’s my wife’s sister-in-law’s brother-in-law’s brother”. Ok, so you shook hands with him at your sister-in-law’s brother-in-law’s funeral. We know that you know him now. Yes yes - Personally. Yes yes, now each time you run into him he goes “Arey bhai where have you been, I never see you.” And of course he turns and extols your greatness to all the others around. Ya. Right. “And arey want some help from him? Don’t worry I’ll just tell my wife and she’ll just call her sister-in-law and request for this favour.”

Hand me, hand me my dupatta now so I may bury my face in it and stifle my scream!


Then there are allll the idiots on TV. Forget the blind import of popular American cultural chickpeas – it’s those stupid overused English language phrases that grate. “Last but not the least” and even the “Ladies and gentlemen”. But you have to hand it to the superlatives. Nowadays, even when a kid comes home with a prize, the parents react “Superb! Fantastic! Amazing! Mindblowing!”. And my mind goes - Aye, if you don’t shut up now I’ll blow your brains so fantastically that you will be amazed at how superbly I did that. Harrrrr.

But what’s more worrying is how we are importing cultural memorabilia without any context. How many people have we seen wearing t-shirts with the Playboy bunny? Then you have people dressing up in S & M outfits. Complete with the leather shorts and dog collars! God, I even know a baby boutique called S & M!! I am sure the owners thought it would make a "cool" name. And look at how burlesque has integrated itself with Indian dance routines. Hello – ever really used a garter?? Do you know why women dress up androgynously in some of the dances?  I don't see the problem with adopting something, but if you have to do it, do it right. Like if you really think western food is cool – then please go eat some freshly cooked pasta or steaks rather than stuffing dangerous burgers and pizzas down your child’s throat.

Then there is the other trash that is being stuffed down our throats. WAGs, Kardashians, and up-to-date baseball player gossip. Who cares man?? And even if we don’t – these Internet repurposing ‘reporters’ will make sure that eventually all of us do. And then when some random Hollywood actor comes down to India – you will have all the a-list ‘Bollywooders’ trying to get a meeting with these. And if they do – you will see one big photo of a grinning ‘bollywooder’ with the poker-faced Hollywood nobody. Why do you want to impress him. Why??? Why??? Why????

Hand me, hand me my saree now so I may bury my head in it and throttle my scream!


Ayanti Reddy said...

You know, apart from the people who actually *DO* want to part take in "mindless aping (a commonly used phrase amongst the literati), it's become a very seamless integration of the verbiage that you mentioned.

And am sure you know who's putting on a show and who's actually saying stuff like "mindblowing babe!!"

Honestly speaking, I could get on the pulpit and talk about a lot of the stuff that gets my goat but the best way out is a grumble, a blog and then look the other way. Because Kim K and her mammoth jugs sisters and their ilk are here to stay :)

Rabia Fathima said...

He he, yes, a blog and a grumble sure helps vent. I don't particularly find submitting to cultural influences problematic - because well all of us have adopted various aspects of it. It's an omnipresent sociological phenomenon that affects us all. Particularly so in the lingual aspects. I remember I once used "wee bit" in a sentence, and a British cousin of mine was really amused and was like "why you going all Scottish suddenly?". Anyway, it's just the 'mindless aping' that you refer to, that irritates the hell out of me.

Certainly, you can't ignore or deny the power of American pop culture. And most definitely international slang is largely starting to evolve from American slang. If you look at it - a lot of us do speak more American than Indian :). Anyhow I better stop at this. Because soon I will start talking about the sociological and psychological drivers and that's stuff that nobody really wants to read about!

Anonymous said...

Talk about it. Would love to read.