If today's post doesn't convince him that I meant what I said, nothing will.]
Last November, I had reviewed a book written by a wildly popular Indian author chronicling the love story of a Punjabi boy and a Tamilian girl. I dismissed the book as a collection of stereotypes and clichéd situations, but it was perhaps for those very reasons that it went on to become a runaway bestseller. The book, after all, was not written for me- it was written for the less discerning reader- the literary equivalent of the audience of a David Dhawan Bollywood movie.
Thought the author of the book claims it is based on his own love affair, even if he had set out to write a completely fictional story, it is likely he would have chosen protagonists from the same communities as the ones he actually wrote about.
The stereotypical South Indian and the stereotypical North Indain are at two extremes of the spectrum.
The nerdy Madrasi (because that is what the stereotypical South Indian is referred to as), in his ill fitting, shabby clothes, using his fingers to eat curd-rice from a banana leaf and speaking in an accent nobody can understand. He wouldn't recognise a joke if it danced naked in front of him, and his philosophy would be "simple living, high thinking" .
The crass North Indian couldn't be more different. Everything about his is loud, flashy and boisterous - his music, his clothes, his car, his wife's jewellery, his house. He's never seen without a leg of tandoori chicken in one hand and a glass of single malt in the other, and when he is not swaying like a maniac to music, he's cracking non-veg jokes.
The book was the success it was precisely because it did not deviate from either stereotype, but my review made it amply clear that I found the book distasteful in the extreme.
I'd posted the review five months back, and was rather surprised to find that someone had commented on it a couple of days back. When I read the comment, I was stunned by the vitriolic attack -
I'm a north indian male and it's really flattering to see the south indian females marrying the north indians males. After all the south indian males are ugly black monkeys, who are poor in every department of manhood. In looks and physique the south indian males are pathetic compared to the north indian males.The south indian males are the ugliest specimens in india and even the toilet cleaners in north india look more handsome than them. My only advice to south indian females is to marry north indian males so that they can improve the gene pool of the future generations by having beautiful children.
How dare he contaminate my blog with such trash, was my first and only thought.
"Ugly black monkeys"? Excuse me! While the average North Indian is fairer than the average South Indian, I know of several individual South Indian males who are much fairer than most North Indians. And in any case, does the variation of a couple of shades in skin colour matter at all?
"poor in every department of manhood"? If I choose to interpret this the way it is perhaps meant to be, I can only wonder how a seemingly heterosexual male knows. But perhaps he means that the stereotypical North Indian male is the life and soul of the party unlike this South Indian counterpart. If that is what he means, he can keep it. The South Indian male would rather conquer Silicon Valley than waste time on parties.
But what perhaps got me most angry was his statement that " even the toilet cleaners in north India look more handsome than....". What's wrong with being a toilet cleaner? I clean my toilets, and that doesn't make me inferior to anyone. To make someone else do the jobs that you don't want to do, and then to make them out to be inferior creatures because they work for you, that's precisely the sentiment that Indians need to shed before the country can take its rightful place among the top nations in the world.
I happen to be a South Indian married to a North Indian which makes me the person he is talking about when he mentions "improving the gene pool by having beautiful children". But despite the fact that he was complimenting my kids, the comment made my blood boil.
There are few things I detest more than intolerance, and racial/ religious/ regional parochialism. Despite our deep seated need to label ourselves, we are all human beings. We have the right to disagree, we even have the right to hate, but it is a human being we should be disagreeing with (or hating), not the label we choose to put on them. It was precisely this kind of hatred that led to the Holocast, and it is this kind of hatred that is responsible for so much of what is wrong with the world today.
If I could, I would like to press the delete button and exterminate the parochial sentiments of the person who posted the comment, but delete his comment, I could not bring myself to do. After all, while I think I am right, he too thinks he is right, and who am I to deny him the freedom of speech.
I did not, however, have the energy to counter his statement with facts, so all I said was -
I believe in freedom of speech, which is why I am not deleting your comment, but if you feel looks are the only thing that matters, you probably have a few hard lessons coming your way.
He is unlikely to come back and read my reply, and I would rather he not, because I am not sure I have the energy to engage in a war of words with him. But I do hope he sees the error of his ways soon.
Image from Wikimedia Commons.