(This first appeared in the Sunday Guardian)
Famous teevee channel for old and censored shows, Star World India, is currently in the middle of broadcasting the latest season (this is a rare event; the words “latest season” and “Star World India” being used in the same sentence!) of Masterchef Australia. This is one of the most watched shows on Star World India because it involves ordering around people making the food and then being an unappreciative asshole when they present the final product. Finally a show on teevee most Indian men can identify with!
This season Star World’s marketing department has given us another reason to watch the show. The show finally has a contestant of Indian origin! So all their promos about the show are centred around said contestant, a Ms. Dalvinder Dhami. Because they know that the only thing – other than badly recreated dramatic representations of real life crimes or fake reality shows about people torturing each other for no fame and mild fortune – that we love to see on teevee is a brown person make it in white people la-la land! And this Masterchef contestant is going to be very popular. She’s a professional woman sharing her three kids, her husband (by arranged marriage!) and house with her parents-in-law. She is like every popular, ‘prim and proper’ female soap opera protagonist on Star Plus.
Unfortunately, she got eliminated from the show because of her inability to make a Greek salad. We have failed you again, King Porus. Thousands of years later and we still get foiled by the Greeks! Damn you, descendants of Alexander. Why couldn’t you have been happy with eating a ‘green salad’ like normal people? This is why you have no money, Greece. Because not only do you insist on fancy ingredients for even inconsequential parts of the meal, you also keep breaking your plates after you finish it.
When she was eliminated, Ms. Dhami not only lost the title of Masterchef, she also lost her impending ‘Indian of the Year’ awards that our news channels would have bestowed upon her had she won. Now, instead of gracing Indian Idol with her presence and being felicitated by Anu Malik as a ‘true Indian’ – even though the last person in her family to set foot in the country was born more than a hundred years ago – she now has to remain contented with being recognized and mobbed at the very Indian weddings she is going to cater.
We love to cheer anyone with a remote connection to us even before we ask if that person wants to be hero worshipped or not. Not everybody wants to be the representative of India’s ‘soft-power,’ which is carefully taking over the world one reality show at a time. People like Governor Bobby Jindal of Louisiana. Jindal was the first Indian-American politician to become the Governor of an American state. But Bobby Jindal feels the same way about being Indian like Mitt Romney feels about being a moderate Republican. They both pretend that it never happened even in the face of indisputable evidence.
Bobby never fails to remind his constituents and pretty much everybody else he meets that he is just like them. Just another normal! He also doesn’t fail to recount the lucky break his parents got when they escaped to America from their poor frail home in Punjab where fifty people shared a single room apartment and when you went outside to the bathroom you had to sing while you occupied it because locks were a western concept!
When Obama held his first state dinner in honour of the Indian Prime Minister, Bobby Jindal was one of the prominent invited guests. While everybody else dressed in their best exotic Indian regalia, Bobby Jindal and his wife both came dressed like rich hicks from Small Town, USA. Really, guy? You’re named after a movie character portrayed by Dimple Kapadia! You do know that you’re brown on the outside, don’t you, Bobby? The last time I saw a person going to such desperate lengths to deny who he is, a certain scientologist was jumping on Oprah’s couch while declaring his love for Katie Holmes.
It’s okay to be Indian now, Bobby! We’re in these days! Everyone loves us now even if they keep asking us to fix their computer! We’re so popular that lovable douchebag and human wikipedia Aaron Sorkin included an Indian-American character in his latest libtard fantasy teevee series (through which Sorkin speaks truth to stupid while being mean to women). We might not have the roughish charm of the British or the sexual openness of the French or the raw, suppressed cold war resentment of the Russians, but we will always own awkwardness. Be yourself, Bobby. And who knows! Maybe one day you might even be the first openly-Indian President of the United States of America! If that ever happens, Arnab Goswami will be so happy that everything in a 100 kilometre radius around him will be deluged in jizz.
Speaking of overreacting, our national discourse this week consisted of discussing the Time Magazine cover which called Manmohan Singh an underachiever! Great insight, Time! Only in India can people take something which has fewer readers than LK Advani’s blog at face value. Who else would know more about the zeitgeist than a magazine which, a few weeks ago, had an over-age toddler suckling on his Mom’s breast on its cover? Beats me!
We still celebrate every non-achievement an Indian makes in foreign lands and/or are upset by negative foreign press because we put so much cache in what others think of us. Specially those who live in the great, big, white hope. We are constantly seeking validation from other father figure countries. Our country has more daddy issues than a ‘Playboy Playmate’ dating Hugh Hefner.
The thing is, we haven’t arrived until we stop trying to prove that we have. It is a terrible state of existence if you spend all your time trying to meet someone else’s expectations of who you should be.
Hey, if you don’t believe me, ask Bobby.