Friday, January 16, 2009

Look, look, a dalit

It's time to celebrate. Bharat lives under thatches in its villages, India in its highrises of metropolises. Time is a great leveler. Every slumdog had his day long before the latest one became a millionaire. Slum tourism has been a hit with foreigners for quite some time. Dalit hut tourism has made its debut, let us pray to make it stay. From Dharavi to Amethi, we got visitors who want a piece of real India because our New Economy powerhouses have suffered a blackout. Bangalore has lost the bang and Hyperabad is haye barbaad. What happened to those model villages we flaunted when world leaders like Clinton came calling? What does age do to ramp models? You got the answer.

So why not show them the real models of underdevelopment in a developing country with pretensions of being an economic superpower. We hit seventh heaven before we landed our probe on the moon. Premature joculation is no longer funny. So Rahul Bhaiya took David Miliband to a dalit hut, had chapaati and daal, spent a night on a dusted charpoy after caressing a cow in the barn. So much yarn. Darn.

There are no reports of Rahul and David taking a purifying bath with deep-cleansing bars and incense sticks. This however is no guarantee Mayawati won't accuse them of washing up after washing down the dalit's woman's broth with beer. In any case, Rahul G and David M should become brand ambassadors for Dirty-Poor Village Tour Company. Why should only sprawling urban slums get all the attention, tourism-wise? Very foolish.

Mumbai's Dharavi and its Delhi cousins have always had visitors capturing their Oh-My-God moment in their little Leicas. Guides drawn from the same slums gave them an experience as good as Rio de Janeiro’s famous favellas, only less dangerous. These slum dunk dude guides wore jeans, spoke in pidgin foreign, dyed their locks and wore fake Raybans. They would enlighten the white man about the dark realities of the destitute of India, exaggerating stories of rape and diarrhoea. Nobody ever minds showing the underbelly. We Indians never hid our poverty from people in a strange sort of reverse snobbery. Defecating by the roadside and along the railway lines is as old as the roads and railways. Forget about washing our dirty linen in public, we have not been ashamed of washing our dirty backside in full public view. Money was dirty, poverty meant you were honest yet poor. The rich never worked but got richer by cheating the poor is what the films of our angry Seventies told us. The poor protagonist (we loved to call him hero) came from among the masses living in cheek-by-jowl chawls or murky mustard fields. The rich and despicable lived on Malabar Hill or in Rajputana havelis and got their bellend kicked in the end.

Slumdog Millionaire has not done anything new. So why is Amitabh Bachchan blogging a dead horse? Well, because Anil Kapoor stood there in LA for the Slumdog photocall with Danny Boyle and all. Kapoor who played Amitabh in the reel got to touch the golden trophy, while the real Amitabh, often called the star of the millennium, has failed to shine in the Hollywood Horizon. A case of sour grapes, huh? Well, give him the respect and the benefit of doubt. It may just be a natural disgust at the Western obsession with snake-charmers and slums of India.

But Mr AB, you see, what else can we show to them when the silicon chips are down? Raju is in Chanchalguda jail. Laloo and the Indian Railways have become repetitive. Everybody knows God runs the railways and Laloo takes the credit. Mumbai is still smoking. Delhi is choking. Inflation is down, yet prices are up. We are losing jobs in between. The Royal Bengal tiger is nearing extinction; White Tiger is getting Booker-ed by the Brits. The India dream is a nightmare, so Bharat comes to the rescue of Rahul Bhaiya whi the Brit Miliband. Long live Bharat. Will the real Manoj Kumar please stand up? And please keep your hand away from your face. They are coming to see you again, now that you are back to resembling what they always imagined you will be like.


Anonymous said...

You make a valid point here .. I like. And agree.


सबकी कहानी said...

There is deep sense of shock and awe among the peple about the fact that the UPA government showed people of India a defected miror, which reflected a highly inflated image of Indian economy.Dust has settled now and it will take not less than five years to infuse confidence in them.