Someone at the office mentioned that her father did not want her studying in a Christian institution for fear that his children would get influenced by the western way of life. Not only is that the daftest thing I’ve heard this year, it is this very typecasting that I’ve always had a problem with. All my life I’ve had to answer obnoxious questions about why I don’t conform to the stereotype people have in their minds about my religion or community or even gender. I happen to be a non-meat eating Catholic who also has never had an alcoholic drink in her life. There has not been a single instance when this has not shocked the recipient of this information. How are you Christian? They ask. Turns out the Lord makes us in all combinations. I did not choose this particular lifestyle for effect nor was this done to land a Brahmin cutie, I genuinely cannot stand the taste of meat. As far as alcohol is concerned, I just never felt the desire to have that sip.
Food and drink aside, my biggest pet peeve is the assumption that Christian women are fast and loose. Bollywood also did its bit to drive home this popular misconception- every woman with a child out of wedlock had a Christian name. Julie? Bollywood’s ladies of the evening are invariably Christian. They wear dresses, drink beer, and 9 months later they’re knocked up all the while wearing a larger than life crucifix around their neck whilst kneeling down in a church, hands folded and sign of the cross made. So the fact that I’m not as easy as Sunday morning also comes as a surprise.
The hypocrisy that is India really gets to me. We’re so against the western culture but we will sell our souls and our Indian passports to move to the US or the UK. The very same parents that reprimand their kids for becoming westernized love telling people that the kids are in the abroad. Not every jasmine headed, salwaar wearing woman is as pure as driven snow. Tons of tyre marks on the snow sometimes. Kissing in the movies is taboo but pelvic thrusts and simulated procreation in the form of dance sequences are perfectly ok. Wearing dresses is provocative but sarees with pallus that have thrown caution to air, leaving very little to the imagination is what makes an adarsh Bharatiya naari. We pride ourselves in our low divorce rate but if we had a tax for all the miserable marriages in this country, we’d make up the fiscal deficit nicely. I’d much rather a divorce than be stuck in a marriage where one hopes to exercise the only exit option available (death and preferably the spouse’s) sooner than later. We frown at hugging as a form of a greeting but we’re also the land of the Kamasutra and the Khajuraho temples. Both of which I’m told can make 50 shades of grey blush. (I studied at Christian institutions and haven’t cracked open a page from the book. Shocker). We’re also a nation of 1.2 billion and growing, it is safe to say that our favourite past time is not trying to outsmart Ramanujan so we might need to retire the coy Indian charade. We love to think we are cerebrally endowed. We are not. We learn by rote, comprehending and assimilating very little along the way, leaving school none the wiser than when we joined it. Out of 1.2 billion people, if there are 5 million people with an above average IQ, arithmetically speaking we did not win at the brains lottery vs. let’s say the US with 300 million and maybe 1 million people with an above average IQ. We have our merits, we work harder than most people for one. But we need to chill out with this false sense of superiority about our culture and this paranoia about the supposed western influence.