Sunday, July 04, 2010

An Open Letter to Ms Priya Ramani

For Reference , please first read this link

Dear Ms Ramani,

Thank you, Ms Ramani for reminding me that I am an Indian. You know , the world cup is going on and I did not at all follow the Asia Cup . Actually I have not been following cricket since the World T20 started. This disinterest started to make me feel if I am cent per cent Indian still. But thanks to your article- and I am being polite and Indian enough to call it just an article- I now know that I am still an Indian . Cent per cent, or may be more.
No, I don’t spit in public, haven’t ever tried to watch any Indian soap let alone trying to like or understand them, don’t like mangoes either and only if necessary start the conversation with remark, “How slim you have become!!” instead of going other way around. Heck , I have even resisted the temptation to ask Harsha Bhogle on his timeline as to how he got his crop of new hair, in spite of the fact that I am going to be completely hairless in two years. But yes, my father likes mangoes. And he is an Indian. And as a public servant done more for the Indian people than you ever will through your journalistic duties. And yes, he does his work as dutifully as ever and in fact loves his work. So technically in your eyes , he is not an Indian. Indian bureaucrats don’t do that, do they? But paradoxically for you he still calls himself Indian. And so do a lot of other people who continuously strive to make India the “greatest place on earth” that you so frown about despite of numerous hurdles and cynics.   People like Mr. Kalam, Mr E. Sreedharan, my father, me if I do my work well, and even you Ms Ramani , if you aspire to bring about some change through your writings and try to  write well.
Ms Ramani I celebrate all my festivals the way the way they are meant to be celebrated coz I think the person who invented festivals must have been the greatest psychologist out there , ever. And he did not tell us that we should not be up on Christmas as people are supposed to sleep in night or that we should all turn vegetarian as it is so cruel for the poor turkey to lose its life for us to celebrate on thanksgiving or that we should not get spongy drunk and get all brash and loud on the new year’s eve. Likewise he did not tell me that I ought not burst crackers on Diwali night coz it disturbs the dogs and the people who are old or that I should refrain from pouring colours on Holi just because I think colours are more ‘colourful’ than being bland. Tell you what Ms Ramani, if I do not care about the Turkey, I might as well not care about the dogs and  those old people must have done the same when they were of my age i.e. burst a lot of crackers and throw colours. But then you might choose to disagree with the shrink or with me. Bloody well, you can – I am not going to burst crackers in your house or throw colours on you. Because it is in India you are. You can easily say screw off without the danger of being screwed yourself.
You curse a politician and well, any one should for what he has done. But I really don’t think that a major chunk of our politicians are Indians at all. They are Hindus, Muslims, or Yadavs, Brahmins , or from any other caste before being an Indian. Or else they are Biharis, Bengalis, form Telengana, or south Indians, or Marathis . Or in this case they are simply being males than being Indians. May be you have been looking in wrong places Ms Ramani.  Indians are not like Politicians that they have. It is the other way around. Politicians are not like the Indians they represent.
Yes, I  too don’t think that India is the greatest country around. But still I am Indian because as long I try to work to make it the greatest country , I will be Indian I guess. Most of the chest thumping on Jai Ho came from the NRI community who for all there ‘Indian-ness’reside In their USA and Canada for the ‘standard of living’ they get there and have scantly done anything for their INDIA. If you think that they are Indians , may be you have been using wrong frames as well. For most of the Indians, Slumdog Millionaire was an overstretched tale of the notion West has about India. That while we are no more a country of snakes and elephants, all we have is abject poverty, software professionals, and riots. It only interested us because it won us two Oscars. Did  you find Slumdog Millionaire insightful? Watch  Bawarchi -  a Rajesh Khanna movie. It will tell you more about Indian values than any Danny Boyle America can bring here. Danny Boyle would never tell you that India is the only country where you will get away with calling the national God “A Loser” as you call Ram or publicly bashing the very existence of the major festivals being held here.  It is not that we don’t care. It is because we know how to keep quiet when someone disagrees. How to make the other person feel acknowledged in the peaceful terms even if he says ‘no’ in the most blasphemous and ridiculous manner. We are not going to tell you to buzz off in the manner  Joel Stein does. He is an American you  know. But still if you think that his version is more respectable, then you are still welcome. It is India, after all.
Or, maybe you tried to inject some humour or to use a better word, some ‘sarcasm’ in your piece, and maybe I didn’t get that. But I have always believed that it is not your readers fault if he doesn’t get your sarcasm, it is yours. You  were not subtle enough or maybe you were not revealing enough. What do you think? You may choose to disagree and say that I am not intellectual enough to understand you ‘intended’ humour. And I am okay with it. I give you the right to disagree because I am an Indian. I have seen a lot of people crying hoarse on a lot of matters like region and religion. People who tend to think that people do not have the right to think otherwise in their so called ‘jurisdiction’. Ms Ramani, did somebody attack your office or your car or your house for writing what you did? I would think not. Maybe you will reckon the reason for that is that more people watch My Name Is Khan in India than those who read an English newspaper- a business one at that.   But I think that it is because there are more people in India who are Indian than those who are merely Hindu, Muslim or Marathi .  So while you say that my fellow Indian lot is deeply unaware of the existence of anybody other than his own , he is wild, uncouth, uncultured, do not respect women, eats mangoes(!!!!!), watches dumb shows etc etc, I am just going to smile at you and politely say that while I do not agree with your views, and so will millions of my fellow Indians whom you so conveniently choose to keep out of the definition of being ‘Indian’, I will not vandalise either your home or your office, will not try to get you to leave the country, or to get a fatwa issued against you or try to get a hefty bounty placed on your head.  Because you are in India, does not matter whether you think yourself as an Indian or not . And by the virtue of being in India, you have the right to disagree. And if Ms Ramani, by any chance you somehow read this post where I disagree with your views, and still you do not flag this blog for having difference of opinion,  Ms Ramani, sorry to say, but you are still an Indian.

Welcome to India,


Nivesh Jain said...

Shaant Gadadhari Bheem...Shaant

Just let Ramani know that if she were to be, say in the US, or anywhere else, and would have done this kind of a bitchy post, she cannot imagine what would have been made of her.

It is just the greatness of India that it gives every Indian the freedom of expression of thought, which she knew while writing her shit. So when she feels alienated and non-Indian, I guess she is right; but mocking the culture and the gods is truly barbaric and intolerable.

And the same culture and the same gods teach you and me, to forgive and ignore the immaturity of this supposedly mature person.

Anonymous said...

Hi Sumit,

Just happened to chance upon this post. Kudos to someone who finally chose to stand up to malevolent judgements of someone like Ramani, loud and clear. Appreciate your post's frankness. :)


Anonymous said...

Well put sentiments.. I agree to most of what u said.

Ganesh said...

who is this Priya Ramani?