Saare jahan se not so achcha

What is it about us Indians ? You can hear us from a mile away. We’re untidy, we’re unruly, we’re unmindful of anyone else in public spaces, we’re uproariously loud, we are unashamedly uncivic-minded. We don’t care two naya paise for our surroundings. Baap ka raaj runs riot as the supreme law of the concrete jungle.

Illustration / Amit Bandre

Our kids run noisily around airports and restaurants. And we watch proudly as our bratty little Pappu spills Pepsi all over the Persian carpet in the hotel foyers. And spoilt chubby Chunnu has just discovered the air blowers above his head in the airplane and he lets out a shrill “Dekho Mummy hawa hawa” as he kicks over a plate of unpalatable food onto ‘uncle’s’ lap, who’s sitting in 12C.

Things start to get a bit hairy as little Pappu grows up to be big Pushpinder and chubby Chunnu is now overweight Chhagan. They have destroyed large sections of public India on their delinquent joyride to adulthood (they will litter Lokhandwala but dare not besmirch London).

They have kids now and Chhagan Jr says to his old man, “Papa papa mujhe Taj Mahal dekhna hai...Papa papa chalo na...”

And so they go to Delhi and proceed to destroy Fatehpur Sikri, the Qutub Minar and Hauz Khas, the spoilt little Aurangzebs.

And on Diwali, Chhagan Jr and Sr and their entire neighbourhood of ‘hooligans’ descend on the Seventh Wonder of the World. Along with 1.5 lakh other revellers. And they think to themselves, “Let’s desecrate, let’s destroy our most precious monument.”

So while the Egyptians revere their Pyraminds and the Chinese fiercely protect their Great Wall, we Indians party on the Taj Mahal. Plundering is our privilege. Public property is truly for our private destruction. We leave lasting impressions all over Shah Jahan’s mausoleum. Many ‘Malti loves Mohan’ are inscribed all over the marble walls. We espy a prominent sign that clearly says, “No photography allowed inside.” And we interprete it to mean, use your camera. Bindaas. Flash also. This Mughal architecture is ‘baap ka maal’. That it might taint intricate work that dates back to 1623 BC means nothing. That it is a world heritage site means diddly do.

We truly have no value for our country.

And then comes the double standard. We’re in a multiplex, gorging on popcorn, most of which Chunnu Jr has spilt all over the floor.

Our National Anthem comes on. We are asked to stand. Chhagan Sr notices couple in front not rising for our flag.
He goes ballistic in his indignation at their lack of national pride.

When did you suddenly discover yours, Chhagan Sr?

And finally we claim to work for the people. Then proceed to take over a cricket stadium and create a ‘tamasha’ for a simple swearing-in ceremony using public money. All the while promising to reveal the names of Swiss bank account holders.

Are we patriotic or what?

Rahul da Cunha is an adman, theatre director/playwright, photographer and traveller. Reach him at rahuldacunha62 The views expressed in this column are the individual’s and don’t represent those of the paper.

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