Kissing isn’t part of our culture? Pissing is?

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: ‘Attack on India’s cultural ethos’, screamed a headline in The Hindu today.

It pertained to the incident of Hollywood actor Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty during an AIDS awareness programme on Sunday.

Now, the good dictionary of English words tells us that the word ‘ethos’ means “characteristic spirit, moral values, ideas or beliefs of a group, community or culture”. But in a country, where ‘culture’ and ‘heritage’ are two words that are used in the most loose and shamefully irresponsible sense, dictionaries are of no consequence.

Every thing and anything that can purportedly raise the hackles of a section of society which are represented by self-styled, self-serving, debauched and basically criminal minded rabble rousers and nuisance mongers who neither have any sense of decent direction in life nor a modicum of conscience, is an affront to Indian ‘culture’!

An aging neo-Buddhist of a man like Richard Gere kisses a two-bit, also-ran of a woman like Shilpa Shetty to make some point concerning AIDS and it suddenly becomes a national shame and a disaster of unprecedented dimensions to certain ‘activists’.

What sense of moral probity. What respect for woman’s dignity. What concern and care for the nation’s definition of decency. What an expression of the most heart-felt desire to uphold ‘Indianness’!

Shame be on these despicable and disgusting pimps of ‘culture’ who in reality are nothing but a bunch of unemployable derelicts who know nothing but to make an issue out of nothing. The self-invented dalaals of disgusting dichotomy that scrounge around like dirty mongrels around the dustbins of society.

Over 50 Shiv Sena ‘activists’ converged at the Vashi railway station in Navi Mumbai where the film Metro was being shot and burnt an effigy of Shilpa Shetty and shouted slogans against her. They termed the kiss as indecent behaviour. Variations of the same were done in Varanasi, Bhopal, Kanpur, Indore and Mumbai.

The BJP disapproved of Gere’s act asserting it was not part of Indian culture. “Such a public display is not part of Indian tradition,” said party spokesperson Prakash Javdekar.

If fleetingly kissing a woman in public and with the avowedly socially conscious intention of driving home an obvious message against a scourge like AIDS is such an unpardonable affront to Indian ‘culture’, then what is the lurid act of urinating in the full glare of the public, even on busy roads, that most Indian men do, which results in the rather pathetic scene of the women in the vicinity lowering their heads and hurrying past the cheap spectacle with the man standing with his legs spread at a convenient angle?

So this is part of the great Indian culture we shout from the roof tops about, is it? Or is it enshrined somewhere in the inside pages of our voluminous scriptures?

What of the sexual harassment that goes on in crowded buses and trains where perverts thrust their pelvises into the backsides of hapless women clinging desperately on to every available piece of support inside on their way to a hard day’s work? This doesn’t activate the ‘activists’?

Nor do doctors who demand their pound of flesh by way of cold cash even before looking at the dead body of a loved one on which law perchance necessitates a post mortem. Or scores of government officials who squeeze you to the brink of madness when it comes to demanding mamool.

Or those men, surely not born of human wombs, who go to the extent of dousing kerosene on a helpless woman before striking a match stick to be thrown in her direction just because she did not remind her father to present a Hero Honda motorcycle to her husband at the time of marriage? Or village teachers who play rummy during school hours and policemen who are a law unto themselves?

Richard Gere kisses Shilpa Shetty and India is outraged. How much more morally bogus and dubious and counterfeit can we get.

That reminds me of the tag line of India: 5,000 years of history and culture. Or is it culture and history?

If god hadn’t been cruel to me, I would have had hair on my head to tear. Alas!

Photographs courtesy: The Daily Mail, London