Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Winds of Change

Self styling oneself as an 'observer' has one obvious BIG advantage- it allows you to sit back and inwardly snicker at the things people say and do. And then you can pretend to yourself that it is vital information that'll someday pay off when you write the next Catcher in the Rye- that one day you'll look back at this voyeuristic habit and thank the stars that you have it.

That day hasn't come yet for me. Neither have I yet stumbled on the next genius idea after Harry Potter.

In this post, I'm going to write about 'my' generation- children born in the late 80's and who grew up in the 90's. In India. The 90's were for us the time when we transitioned into mordernity. When not only were western markets famously made accessible to us by Manmohan Singh Part 1/2, but what was triumphantly denounced 'western culture' by our culture-vultures invaded. When our parents gasped in horror the moment Monica and Chandler saw each other naked under the sheets and said that their friendship was effectively ruined.

And so it has come to pass that a lot (if not most) of us follow Prison Break, 30 Rock, The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, the ubiquitous F.R.I.E.N.D.S, etc etc more than our parents followed the insufferable Swabhimaan, Tamas and Buniyaad. And a lot (if not most) of us have surprisingly- almost European- liberal views about sex and 'hook ups'. And I am part of the generation that proudly bandies words like global village and intellectualism to justify our choices.

All of which is true- let's face it. The hawks who go on crying themselves hoarse about western culture 'destroying' India through Valentine's Day, The Da Vinci Code and late night clubbing are dinosaurs- and they know it.

But although it kills me to say it, this endorsement of the western way needs to have its limits. And not in terms of clothes. Or TV. Or Movies. Or porn. Or booze. Or XXXX. Those things come under the 'personal details not to be given out' heading. Fair enough.

But the kind of blind euphoria Indians in India go into when they see Barack Obama on TV is inexplicable. Especially we- the children of the 90's go into raptures. He's going to bring about 'change' we say- in a foolishly misguided belief that he is going to save the world. Even today- when his international stature hangs on the thin thread of his oratory ability, if you look past the obvious- and undeniably great- black metaphor, the fact remains that foreign policy has returned to the hawkish pro Pakistan roots that the Democrats have always been mired in. The man is apt to make statements that on the surface seem full of warmth and non partisan haloes- like 'I love Pakistan because I once had a Pakistani roommate', but lurking under the gloss is a clearer roadmap visible to any discerning non fanboy mind that American policy has shifted westward.

This isn't meant to be a political blog. It is just because I know of people who gush over the man's charisma, his command over language and his being black. True, true and oh boy- true. Look under the wrapping, and Pakistan is revelling in millions and millions of dollars given by the agent of change.

I am probably in the minority who actually longs for the Bush days. That man- whatever his faults- gave a truly historic, a truly great gift to us in the form of the civil nuclear agreement.

I suspect- at the risk of trivialising issues- that it is the same attitude that made us like the aforesaid mentioned TV programmes- a promise of greater intellectual reward if you will- that makes many of us- Resident Indians coo over the US President. Somehow we've convinced ourselves that it is hep and the in thing to say how (to use an alreadly obscenely overused word) amazing- he is. It is pop culture now you see. The same attitude that leads people to orgasm when he greets the Muslim world in Arabic, but ignores the actual working- and illuminating- statements of Hillary Clinton.

It happens in India too- with suave, Twitter using verbal diarrhoeaics like Shashi Tharoor. Just because he uses Twitter and speaks good- maybe even great- English doesn't make him cool. Cool would be him casting off his garrulous frivolity and not making ghastly mistakes in Sharm-al-Sheikh mentioning Baluchistan in a document that is going to come back and bite us in the arse whenever we deal with our oh-so-friendly western neighbours. But no- the 'support' galvanised for poor Tharoor focussing his energies on cribbing about flying economy- cattle class I mean- and possibly having clandestine links to the IPL franchise seems to say- excuse him because he's sophisticated.

Codswallop. Or considering that Monseiur Tharoor has given new bovine meaning to the phrase 'If pigs could fly (economy)'- Cattlecrap.

Oh and by the way- I can't get enough of The Big Bang Theory. How effing amazing is Sheldon Cooper?

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