I just started reading my first Saul Bellow novel "The
Adventures of Augie March". The very first page got me
hooked... and thinking:
"Everybody knows there is no fineness or accuracy of
suppression; If you hold down one thing you hold down the
This was it... this said it all ... in a weird way it answered
why India wasn't doing as well as it should... the cricket
team... the Indian writers... the actors... Something is
missing.. and I realized maybe.. just maybe this was it. If there is
no fineness and accuracy of suppression, I guess there is no
fineness or accuracy of repression either. Too many little dictators holding too many things down.
India became hugely famous for it's spicy food in the
twentieth century and in this century it is becoming dreadfully popular for it's moral policing! And why shouldn't the 'true' Indians be concerned? After all in their skewed dumb head , every white guy out there is crazed with the desire to rob India of her tradition and cultural heritage!
Take for example Richard Gere... what cheek! Kissing an Indian
woman.... on the cheek!!! Forget that he has been spreading
awareness about AIDS in the country... helping the Tibetans ...
promoting peace ... running charities... investing his time and
money... more than I can say for the people who are so quick to
judge him! When was the last time these self-appointed
guardians of Indian culture took any steps towards spreading
awareness about AIDS. Oh! how could I forget, AIDS is a 'phoren'
syndrome too... after all how can it exist in India, no one
ever heard of sex in India, children are gifts from the Gods, remember!
Here is this white guy... in India... loves Indian food,
converted to Buddhism... works hard to help the people... a
respected citizen in his country... a super achiever by any
standard...a good human being... kind enough to devote his time,
energy and money in our country and we thank him by dragging
him to court for kissing a woman (who loved it) on her
cheek. And did I mention that they were at a public function.It is not as if a scared defenseless damsel was being harassed in a crowded bus by an uncouth,uneducated, unconscionable goon. A humiliating experience every woman who has had to board a crowded bus has been through.
That reminds me of another recent incident involving Mandira Bedi,
the first Indian lady cricket commentator in a male dominated
profession. Recently, she had to apologize on national
television for being proud of her religion. Wanting to
show the world her feelings towards her religion she
got a religious symbol tattooed on her lovely shoulder. The
bigots were up in arms. After all they own the
religion. Whoever heard of such an absurd concept as "the freedom of expression!" Thousands of people have the same symbol tattooed on their hands, forearms and biceps. What was sacrilegious was that a beautiful, successful, confident woman
got it tattooed on her shoulder. The shoulder is impure, the hand is pure! How twisted!
Mandira, wanting to make amends and leave the whole tattoo
incident behind... wore a lovely sari ( a sari, surely no one's
sentiments could be hurt by her wearing a sari, in tune with
the Indian culture and tradition) for the Final Day of the
Cricket World Cup. Designed by a famous Indian
designer, it had flags of all the participating nations on
it. But the designer and Mandira both underestimated the 'Big Brother's
sensitivity (to successful, confident women?) "THE BIG
BROTHER IS WATCHING YOU".
How dare she wear Indian colors and disgrace the country.She should have known better. They made her apologize for being insensitive and unpatriotic.
Poor thing! She had to go and change her dress in the middle of the show.
The reason? The Indian flag was too close to her feet. (The feet are impure too).
And the poor soul.. apologized again... several times... on national television!
A lil too biased, are we?
A lil too proud?
A lil too fragile?
Looking for a lil ego massage are we?
Another incident making the news is about bookshops being ransacked and all copies of a certain book being torched after the Supreme Court lifted a ban on the book
'Shivaji : A Hindu King In Islamic India". Like the title suggests the book is
about Shivaji, an Indian ruler, written by James Laine. The ugly American, again. Who gave him the right to write about an Indian king. How dare he write something so sacrilegious even if he was translating an old Sanskrit book. What was he supposed to do if he has to translate a passage which
dealt with Shivaji's paternity? Lose the truth in translation to satisfy the
'moron police' ... Ooops... moral police?
But how dare he write about an Indian king is what 'the reverent ones' wanted to know . Why does he not stick to 'gora' kings. This American must be stopped lest he runs amuck and shakes the foundation of the mighty Indian culture.
What 'the prudes' are most upset about is that Laine brings
out a widely known fact about Shiva ji's paternity which the the 'restorers of history' want suppressed. The self appointed 'moral committee' came on TV to tell Laine to stay away from India and "not write 'such type of stuff ' ever again". Another ordered his disciples to "burn Laine's book."
What are they really scared of?
Why is it that most good Indian writers and artists prefer to live abroad? Is it
because creativity in India is killed before it blossoms. Is it because they feel stifled
here? Are we suffocating our Youth? Are we killing creativity?
How is it that youngsters of Indian origin outside India are doing so
much better? Are Indians in India not as smart?! That couldn't be it. Well, one thing I darn well know ... I better keep my head covered with a duppatta, not look anyone in the eye, make good grades, take up a job and never ever state what I feel about anything INDIAN and I'll do just fine in the largest democracy in the world.
Here something of what America is at least trying to teach it's citizens about America and freedom and democracy. This is what sums up democracy for me. In a powerful scene from the movie, "The American President"... where the President of the United States is making a speech after he has been targeted by the opposing party for dating a woman who was once seen in a protest rally burning the American flag sums up what freedom of expression means. he says, "You want free speech? Let's see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who's standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can't just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its
citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the "land of the free".