29 December 2008


To Nisha, Maya and Vishaan
For me, as a reminder

I’d like to burn some crackers. They used to be so much fun, those phooljaris and those chakris, I wish I could burn some of them again...

I was till a few years ago prejudiced against the North-east chinki people. I still find them a bit strange, especially their names…

I think it’s perfectly stupid that girls should put up so much kaajal to give themselves the dark circled, supposedly seductive look. I’m quite sure they would look better without that; in fact, they do look better without that…

I think The Iliad is the most horrible text I’ve ever come across. It’s full of the most disgusting bloodshed and the most gory violence…

I find homosexuals strange, that is to say inexplicable. It’s eerie that they get sexually attracted to people of their own sex…

I’ve had enough of Christianity and I don’t care a damn about it! Those bloody Christians are pretty much responsible for the mess the world is in right now…

I love the songs Why Can’t a Woman be more like a Man and Never let a Woman in your Life from My Fair Lady and I think I am 16, going on 17 from The Sound of Music is cute…

I think the Punjabis are conspiring to take over the world, that Singh is King was the latest in their covert agenda of overthrowing all culture and art. Most Punjabis and Jats I have met are philistines with no trace of sweetness or light or refinement about them…

I think…

I think this much is enough!

Yes, this is pretty much enough. I’m sure that by now I’ve successfully established myself as a sexist, racist, insensitive, communalist, bigoted, ne’er-to-do-well, devil-may-care monster.

You know what’s more?

I don’t give two hoots to what you think because that’s what I am. I am racist, I am sexist, I am insensitive, I am a bigoted monster.

Just as you are.

Ok, perhaps that was a bit too much, eh? Perhaps you’re not such a monster...

Perhaps you’ve never ever guffawed or told a joke ridiculing nagging wives or simple Sardarjis, perhaps those of you who’re not Punjabi have never cribbed about the degenerative influence of the ‘Punjabi culture’, perhaps you’ve never thought that India would’ve been a better place had Muslims been packed off to Pakistan in ’47, perhaps you’ve never wanted to do and have never done things you know are ‘bad’, perhaps…

Perhaps not.

It would be a real miracle if you’ve never ever done this, or any other politically incorrect, blasphemous thing. Perfection in imperfection is the only perfectly human trait- all of us do, have at some point done, or, at the very least, have thought of various stupid, illogical, unspeakable, ‘bad’ things. All of us are, therefore, monsters.

Bah, you would say. Never! We might’ve thought of, or considered privately something of this sort, but we’ve never actually done anything. No siree, never! How dare you, you, you insolent, battameez brat! Innocent till proven guilty, blotless till party to the act!

And that’s the point. You’re right, one really is blameless till one actually commits the crime, one really cannot be called names till one has actually done something unacceptable…

I really am not a monster.

I know burning crackers is bad for the environment and I know I won’t burn them, even if I want to for a while.

People have the unassailable freedom to dress as they like: I dress as I choose and I definitely don’t like others to question my dress sense. I may comment on others, but I seldom do so vocally.

The Iliad is gory, but that’s one of its points- to fully highlight the horrendousness of war, as also its futility.

I do think homosexuals are weird, but that doesn’t stop me from accepting them.

Anybody studying Literature in English in Delhi University will agree that we have too much of Christianity. I know why, but then there is an excess, and an illogical, temporary repulsion against an excess is a very natural reaction.

I’ll stand for Henry Higgins in any pulpit, just as I would for feminists.

I do despise-sometimes hate-the Punjabis, but that has till now not blinded me to their good points. My oldest friend is a Punjabi, my favourite teacher in high school was a Punjabi, the girl on whom I first had a crush was a Punjabi, my current second-best friend is a Punjabi, my most regular correspondent and pen friend too is a Punjabi. So much so that the semi-academic paper I started with the intention of lampooning the Punjabis and blasting them to smithereens ended up, for lack of rationally justifiable arguments, praising them.

In short, I do not, like you, usually let my subjectivity adversely influence my objectivity. I may believe in something illogical and may want to do or say something stupid, but I usually don’t do or say that.

I think this is what matters.

Jane Eyre thought her rustic pupils below her, and saw her placement as their school-mistress a degradation, a move down the social ladder. Yet, by all accounts, she never let that affect her pedagogy with them- she strove to not just teach them as a schoolmistress but also train them in the Graces as a mentor.

Just so, I, for example, like some deeply misogynist songs, but I also champion women’s empowerment. I enjoy Henry Higgins cribbing about women as exasperating creatures- which man wouldn’t? I’m sure every woman would enjoy listening to a song about men in the same vein- a poem my Punjabi pen friend recently wrote lampooning men was greatly appreciated by all women who read it. These things are enjoyed in good humour, without any real intention of offence…

Which is to say that you don’t let your subjectivity, of liking a song as chauvinistic as I am 16, affect your objectivity as an analyst- instead, if possible, i.e. depending upon the case, you use the former to reach to a deeper understanding of the subject matter so as to enhance the latter. You enjoy the song, but also realise that women were looked down upon as dependants and so get a multiple perspective on the matter, something which goes along with you when you assess the situation today. You are horrified by Homer, and so get one of his main points. You wish to burn firecrackers, but don’t, for you know it’s harmful and so become a bit more understanding and a bit less judgemental because now you know how hard it is to actually resist temptation as compared to preaching.

Of course, you have to be politically correct. You can’t go around saying what you feel, wherever you feel. Yet, it’s important not to forget that you aren’t really all that politically correct, that you may feel like doing or saying something illogical or bad, but you don’t precisely because you know it’s not done, that it’s a bad thing and really not as you think it to be. That is how you improve yourself, by reminding yourself of your follies and, if not fully correcting them, then at least striving to not let them overpower you. Your subjectivity and objectivity should overlap, but only till its constructive and beneficial. It’s a very difficult task, but that's the only way to survive, for always being politically correct means, to put it as Charles Osgood did, “always having to say you’re sorry.”

Which, caring more than a damn about what you’d think, I am not.


Sushant said...

I must say i can agree with you no less.

Prianca said...

this is one of your best-est posts till date. believe me, not that the rest of them were not up to the mark, they were awesome too.
but then, this one is different. appeals to a larger audience and vents your inner feelings, which is like great.
writing is therapeutic.
keep such posts comin in. :)

P.S. if you get some time, do read my posts too. just updated it.
and m a punjabi too. ;)

AP said...

To Sushant-
No less?

To Prianca-