It may come as a surprise to many, but I was once a child. In my early formative years, I made friends with a chap called Humour. Humour was always there to protect me from bullies, unfair critique, and even some relationship issues I'd got myself into. Humour made me believe that as long as I had him by my side, nothing could go wrong; or at least if it did, it didn't seem so bad. Humour didn't ask for much in return, except to humour him when he was friends with other people. Humour explained, being able to take stick well is just as important as being able to dole it out with class. Sadly, it seems Humour didn't make too many friends over time. I pray to the mighty Bearded One each night that others discover my friend as I did, open their hearts to his awesomeness.
Why am I ranting about personified abstract ideas? Well, because there's way too much "Real" out in the real world. It seems that somewhere between illustrating the Kama Sutra and humming along to Kolaveri Di, we Indians lost our sense of humour! Here's what you need to know:
- Top Gear, one of my favorite shows of all time is lambasted for making a documentary about a road trip across our great country which showed us as quirky, eccentric people in the lightest vein without being judgmental; but importantly, they were honest about it unlike a certain movie which the world lapped up. I'm pretty sure the presenters and producers steered clear of the usual Indian stereotypes, creating new ones along the way. I thought the show was amazing, but hey, I'm friends with Humour. What do I know? More info here
- Jay Leno recently cracked a joke about Mitt Romney's wealth by showing a picture of the Golden Temple, saying it was Romney's summer home. Where he insulted the Indian community, I have no idea, but people aren't having any more of it, I tell you! Read this. Was it racist? No. Was it derogatory to a holy shrine? In my view, derogatory is a very strong term. The joke may not be in good taste, but is definitely not derogatory. I'm not trying to start a war here, but this doesn't even come close to the sort of insult and 'derogation' that other deities have faced in the past. One wrong doesn't justify another or make it bearable. But, one really has to look at it from the writer's point of view. Type in "Golden" in Google Images and and the first picture resembling a building is that of the Golden Temple. More than anything, the joke reflects the writer's ignorance.
We're the land of a thousand cultures, a billion people from a million backgrounds, and yet we lack a single funny bone. Hey, it's a free world. People have the right to crack jokes and people have the right to be offended & lodge protests. But, I equally have the right to brush aside those protests because they seem to be stemming from what I can only imagine is a 10 year old cranky child quite pissed cause he dropped his ice-cream. Grow up for God's sake!
There's this line in The Inscrutable Americans, "We Indians are extremely arrogant, without much to be arrogant about". I can only imagine how these borderline-hardliner protests make us look to the international community. I know the BBC refused to apologize for TopGear and I can't really see Leno doing anything else. Where does that leave the Indian High Commission in both these matters? Yes, looking like a child whose ice-cream just fell to the floor!