Migrants, your grunts, everyone’s stunts


February 18, 2008


Bombay | Issues | Mumbai

by Bachi Karkaria in the Times of India

I cannot promise to raise a statue of Shivaji in Dadar Parsi Colony. But, in the ultimate cultural surrender, I hereby change my surname to Karkare.

Many years ago I got a grubby postcard with a handwritten scrawl. It said, “We have noted you are using word ‘ghati’ too many times in your writings. Be Ware, or fear an acid attack on your photogenic face.” Last Tuesday, I was part of a TV discussion where a rowdy audience kept spitting out the word ‘bhaiya’ as if it were a paan Banaraswala. The MNS party spokesman was a fellow panelist, so I asked him if this was okay considering the family allergy to racist labels. With a straight face he said, “You cannot use ‘ghati’ when you are in Maharashtra.”

Stranger truths emerged. Forget the shortage of affordable housing in the state’s capital or farmer suicides in its hinterland. It seems the only intolerable, indictable, unpardonable, lapse is to say ‘Bombay’ instead of ‘Mumbai’. The belligerent TV audience attacked any panelist who defaulted as if he were a taxi-driver from Zilla Jaunpur. If the beleaguered anchor hadn’t been quick enough, a couple of new martyrs might have been added to those of the Samyukta Maharashtra movement.

In the last hot-cold week, sense disappeared faster from Mumbai streets than the woollies being sold by the Tibetans. Hey, Shivaji Maharaj, one more set of migrants! Ithech kaa marayalaa yetaat ! Must they come to die here only.

The new, self-anointed Mr Thok-re fired his first blunderbuss at Amitabh Bachchan, accusing him of not being amcha enough since he preferred to make Bhojpuri films and channel his largesse to Barabanki. Odd. We always thought that Big B=Bollywood=Bombay.

Being only a small b, and belonging to a community which gets targeted only by osteoporosis and fellow Parsis, the MNS warriors have not sent me any threatening postcards (yet). But, to be on the safe side, here is my to-do list to prove that I qualify as a fully made-up , vada-pav -carrying member of Marathi manoos.

I will switch off the TV as soon as Tendulkar is out; and I will request Lata-tai to switch entirely to lavanis .

I will dump all my saris from the warp and weft of India, and don only Narayan Peths and Paithanis , preferably the whole nine yards. They might get entangled in an auto, but that’s less hazardous than getting entangled with an MNS big wheel, or spokes-person.

I will begin and/or end all conversation with ‘Jai Maharashtra!’

People say outsiders have created Mumbai’s great educational institutions. Ayala, kaay bhankas chalali aahe ? Who has heard of such inconsequential colleges as Poddar, Ruia, Kishenchand Chellaram (KC), or those run by those Madrasis, the South Indian Educational Society. I will promote Pinge’s, Rege’s, Chate’s Classes only.

Tanushree Dutta, Koena Mitra, you can shake your booty till every sequin bites the dust; I shall watch only Rakhi Sawant item numbers.

Son No 2 has got himself a wife from the MNS-approved part of the country, but Son No 1 could be browbeaten into finding one from the state itself, a Maratha. CKP or other ‘Kobra’. Nako bhau , this is not Karan Billimoria’s beer, but common shorthand for Kokanastha Brahmin .

I promise never to touch Gujarati or Rajasthani khichdi , or, worse, some pretentious fusion of polenta and moongbeans. I will stick to saboodana khichadi with singdana and batata , partaking of it every Aashadhi fast day.

I cannot promise to raise a statue of Shivaji in Dadar Parsi Colony. But, in the ultimate cultural surrender, I hereby change my surname to Karkare.