What do you meme?

Updated: Dec 15, 2018, 12:23 IST | Dalreen Ramos | Mumbai

We speak to the faces behind popular Facebook pages driving Mumbai's meme culture

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We remember addressing a feud our common friends had back in university to another friend. "But how do you know they aren't talking?" we asked. "Dude, they don't even tag each other in memes anymore," she replied, as if the evidence were so explicit, that we pretty much felt like a Doubting Thomas. Side note: the rumours were true.

Are we implying that a term coined in the 1970s by Richard Dawkins, an evolutionary biologist now in his 70s, is slowly creeping up to take over our universe? Quite honestly, we hope they do. Because you can pick out flaws with meticulous scrutiny, but it's better to do the same while having a good laugh.

The event list on Facebook
The event list on Facebook

Just do it
Scroll down the events tab on Facebook. And if you've been noticing a surge of weird event names such as 'Remembering Katekar [of Sacred Games] at Juhu Beach', which is scheduled to take place next Sunday, you have Anthony Stephen Mendes to thank.

Anthony Stephen Mendes
Anthony Stephen Mendes

The 22-year-old behind Unusual Bacebook Events, the page that creates these events explains that his efforts are purely satirical. "People in the 18-30 age group need an outlet for expression for topics of relevance. And the reason they get popular is because other pages also share them, but everyone knows it's just a parody. And you can choose if you want to actually make the event happen," he tells us.

Meme

Stay in town...
We can remember the last time we have been tagged on South Bombay memes for class riddled teens. Because it happens all the time. Nivedita Bansal, a 19-year-old student based in Navi Mumbai was inspired to start the page after schooling down for grades 11 and 12. "My classmates came from rich families and were very snooty, and I'd observe them.

memes from her page
memes from her page

It was a small page at first, but I made this one post on the Instagram captions people put on birthdays and it just went viral. Everybody started commenting that someone had to say this," she says. Bansal feels that the format of the meme accurately addresses serious issues.

Nivedita Bansal
Nivedita Bansal

"I mean, people write boring essays about such things, and with memes you can have great fun while you address privilege. My mom loves them."

A Silky meme
A Silky meme

Beyond the Sea Link
They say that inspiration is all around you - like traffic, for instance. Thank your stars; there are Mumbai-based meme pages for some humour. The page Silky memes featuring suburban bombay teens, initially started of as an inside joke between three friends - Tej Pikle, 19, Yash Pandit, 20, and Aamir Qazi, 21 - all based in the Goregaon-Andheri area. " We were on a WhatsApp group together with some of our friends and we would edit photos of us as memes. Yash had the idea of turning it into a Facebook page and then he just made it," Pikle says. Even the name of the page doesn't have a story behind it, and doesn't mean anything in particular. The content however varies from spoofs on well-known schools and colleges in the city to problems in specific localities at large.

(From left) Tej Pikle, Yash Pandit and Aamir Qazi
(From left) Tej Pikle, Yash Pandit and Aamir Qazi

Qazi explains, "We wouldn't say we really shed light on social issues, but as a meme page we do make fun of common things in society that a mass audience can relate to. For example, we sometimes joke about the shabby state of public transport, privileged people, the entitlement amongst Indian men, and the hypocrisy within "woke" people."

...and build a republic
Taking the SoBo satire a step further is the admin of Obnoxious Townie Lemur and Friends - who has created an event scheduled in February 2019 that advocates a SoBo republic. "The page was started in 2012 before Kylie Jenner, political posts, and religious forwards. I wasn't the first Mumbai-based page but I was definitely the biggest," boasts the admin who goes by the name Savir, while assuring us that they will reveal their identity once SoBo is a separate nation. Speaking to us about how inspiration strikes, they say, "I am always hanging out with Obnoxious Townie Lemurs and Righteous Burbie Raccoons. If they say something that's good material I make a note of it. Then I put it up whenever."

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