Thursday, February 21, 2008

Race

This story appeared online, suspecting Asian-Americans were not voting for Barack Obama because he was black. That may sound silly, but might not be false altogether. Asians are a rather racist lot. While the Obama issue isn't a very important one, this reminds me of this silly incident which took place in Mysore over ten years ago.

People who have read stuff I wrote when I was actually funny and who are endowed with strong memories will remember this story, which contains a map of the street on which my grandparents then lived. The urchins therein described, Chotu, Vikram, Sujay et al., were the wretches who enlivened my childhood. Upon a time, these two cousins of Chotu's, Suraj and SomebodyElse, came to visit. Now, these two dudes, for some reason, fell out with their cousin, Chotu, and began disseminating 'hate' propaganda against him. So when I arrived, I was informed about new developments that had just taken place.

"We're not playing with Chotu anymore."

Naturally, this surprised me, since Chotu and I had known each other since age 8 and I had never known him to be anything but a very large, very strong fellow who would kill us all and eat our livers if we didn't let him play. So, I wanted to know why.

"Come come, we'll go somewhere else and play the match. We'll tell you there."

Amidst such great suspense, and trepidation at losing my liver anytime soon, I followed the lads to a different pitch from the the one described in the earlier story, with the drawing/masterful almost-authentic reproduction of the street and its surroundings. It was there that the suspense was finally broken.

"Chotu was born in Pakistan."

Immediate pandemonium ensued. Two guys gasped, three others fell down unconscious. Four more fainted and never recovered and had to be carried away and discreetly buried. Eight people were stunned into silence and had trouble speaking for about two years. Eighteen others fled the scene and were never heard of again. A small nation declared its independence from Russia and the collective global stock market collapsed. Telugu was banned from top night clubs in New Delhi and Orissa was recognised as a state.

My brain was not yet in its current highly evolved state, so I did not ask the questions which should have naturally followed this pronouncement viz., "Oh?" "So what?" "How will that make a difference to us?" Instead, my reaction was a dull "Oh." In fact, that was my reaction to most things back then. An acknowledgement, followed by going along with whatever the others did. But then, they were the days before I read the Hitchhiker's guide or Catch-22 or The catcher in the rye, so that's ok.

But the others were quite vociferous in expressing their displeasure at this dramatic turn of events. "He was born in Pakistan?! Never!" "What do you mean, never? Of course he was born there. He was born in Sindh." "No, I meant, we'll never play with him again!" "Of course!" "He's out." "But he didn't even bat." "Shut up."

So, after some deliberation, we ended up in Vikram's house, where his mother was startled by the sight of so many racist youngsters traipsing sombrely into her house and getting the floor all dirty. "What the fuck do you guys think you're doing?!" she asked. No, I don't think she used the strong language, but it was the child's equivalent of that. So, hesitantly, we told her the gist of our strong, logical argument. This time, I think she actually used strong language.

"What??!! That is so stupid! You're not going to play with the guy anymore just because he was born in Pakistan?! That's the stupidest thing I have ever heard. How does it matter where he was born? Isn't he your friend?"

This, and other lines from the last two minutes of every episode of 'Full house' followed. You know, the preachy stuff Danny or Uncle Jesse or the decently hot Becky spewed while the tinkly piano music played. We were ashamed beyond belief. No, not at watching Full house, although that too is true, but at our stupidity. So we said sorry to Vikram's mother, for some reason, and went out, beat up Suraj and that other guy and went to call Chotu out to play.

Sometimes, the greatest of journeys have the humblest of beginnings.

10 comments:

Harish said...

Oh!

Adakke ninage eega 'liberal', 'secular', 'fully-evolved' brain and an 'open-mind' irodeno?

Arcane Crapper said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Arcane Crapper said...
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Arcane Crapper said...

Oh.
You watch Full House?
Let me not surf this blog anymore. :P

PS: Loved this post. I demand a map for this, perhaps a flowchart too. Sometimes, the greatest of journeys have the humblest of beginnings. So true. :)

tangled said...

I thought there were only ten of you who played? Wherefrom, then, this slew of people who suffered?

I want to know what's happened to Chotu now.

Arjun said...

[Harish]Houdu, I am now a changed man. At any rate, I am changed.

[comment deleted] Hello. Thank you for visiting.

[comment deleted] Hello. Thank you for visiting too.

[Crapper] Hell no! I don't watch it now. But in a certain embarrassing phase of my past, I used to. This was because I wasn't allowed to watch Friends or Whose line...(Seinfeld wasn't airing yet) because they were too 'vulgar.'

A flowchart for the activities described in this post? He he, it shall be up shortly. Funny idea.

[Tangled] The persons who caused all this harm were visitors. The 'originals' were all described in the earlier post.

Spunky Monkey said...

"Sometimes, the greatest of journeys have the humblest of beginnings."

Which film/book was this? A Passage To India-na? Yaavdu antha haaLaddu marthogtaa idyalla.
Athvaa, is this an Arjun Sharma original? In which case, Bravo.

Arjun Sharma said...

Haven't read 'A passage to India.' From Arjun Sharma, this was an original. Don't know if someone else has already said it. Naan sumne barde, irli, kelakke channagiratte anta.

And thank you for the 'Bravo.' Nimdu tumba hoglo swabhava.

Sandeep said...

When we were kids, we banned a kid from playing with us, because his name was Bofin. His brother was Jofin. I think we were justified.

I once went bowling with a Scottish-Pakistani named 'Shaz' and did not slur against him. I guess that makes secular.

Also, nice one. Continue madi. Telugu in clubs in New Delhi was funny.

Arjun Sharma said...

[Sandeep] Yes, guys with rude verb-sounding names need to be taught a lesson.

Yes, not slurring Shaz makes you very secular. Especially since you are watching documentaries nowadays and discovering various religions. And, regardless of what religion you learn about, you always call up Naveen Lee Francis Menezes and rubbish his religion(whereupon he promptly takes offense, as per your reports).

Imagine a guy walking up to a reasonably hot girl in a bar/nightclub and saying 'Namaskaram, sisu. Ela chestavu? Meeru naato ostara? Jai Chiranjeeva.'

For the uninitiated, an approximate translation:-
(Hey baby. How're you doing? Will you take a ride with me?)

Stereotyping is fun.