We’re not allowed to discuss certain things because it’s bad manners to do so. But others are quite permissible. For instance, I can apparently say that “Nigerians are a cancer” and then defend myself by saying that some Nigerians in Goa are drug dealers and by calling me out as a racist are you supporting the destruction of Goa by the drug trade and how do you think I can control a 7 foot tall Nigerian all by myself. That’s allowed.
But you are not allowed to call Indians “racist” for saying things like this about Nigerians. You can put up a sign saying, “Say No to Nigerians, Say No to Drugs” because you care about drug problems. But racism? Never! Indians are perfect and only a left-liberal sicko sickular liberal secular sicko (I know I’ve used the word twice, but just to emphasise the point) would ever suggest such a thing. If Indians seem to be racist, they are perfectly justified. And if you keep on like this, then you are also anti-Goa because that is where the sign was put up and that is where a minister made the cancer remark. It is another matter that Indians in the rest of India or anywhere in the world are quite capable of behaving exactly the same as those in Goa.
And then, one can and must make fun of Rahul Gandhi. Especially his use of terms like “Jupiter’s escape velocity” because let’s face it, it’s quite funny to imagine Indian Dalits ever escaping from the horrors of the caste system. And that is why Rahul Gandhi’s little dinner soirees with Dalits in their huts is even more amusing. I mean, who does that? Every single thing about Rahul Gandhi is very amusing. His use of the word “nonsense” apart. “Nonsense” as every Bengali knows is a patented Bengali word and tonal variations in its usage can give it multiple meanings. As I write this, there are several Bengali associations being formed to take on Rahul Gandhi and his appropriation of the word “nonsense”.
But it is very important to remember that you have to be sensitive to the feelings of tea vendors, especially those with prime ministerial aspirations. Narendra Modi is therefore off-limits from now on. If you say nasty things about tea vendors (especially those with prime ministerial aspirations) you are clearly exposing your own class biases and even worse for an Indian, revealing the fact that you perhaps don’t like drinking tea. Or if you drink it, you do it from a silver tea set with a matching spoon shoved down your throat.
As a tea vendor (especially one with prime ministerial aspirations), here’s what you can get away with and what the rest of us are not allowed to make fun of. First, you can and must confuse Chandragupta Maurya with anyone else called “Gupta”. Then you must shift the ancient city of Takshila from what is now Pakistan to Bihar. You can also shift Alexander’s advancing and retreating army to any part of India that suits you. Techies can make up a new game called ‘World of Modi Warcraft’.
But that’s not enough. Next you have to inflate the amount that China spends on education because you can (tea is originally Chinese after all although you can accuse me of being an anti-Indian pro-China sicko leftie commie right now). If tea vendors mention that China is better than us then that’s okay. I can also be penalised for forgetting to use the word “pseudo” to describe myself, because that’s not just allowed in polite conversation in India, it’s practically mandated.
And the best of all, a tea vendor (yes, especially one with prime ministerial aspirations) can forget the name of the founder of what is his own political party, lop decades off his lifespan, change where he died and generally just switch him around completely. However in this instance, I must point out that since Shyama Prasad Mukherjee founded the Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the mummy-daddy party of the BJP to which Narendra Modi, the once tea vendor belongs, is a Bengali... there is a price to pay here. As I write this, a number of Bengali associations are being formed to end confusion about famous Bengali icons by tea vendors and others...
Ranjona Banerji is a senior journalist. You can follow her on twitter @ranjona