Andrew Symonds‘ charge that Harbhajan Singh called him a “monkey”, resulting in the offspinner being banned for three Tests, shows that a term of endearment in one culture (ours) can be a racist abuse for another (theirs).
The Aussies probably do not know, or probably do know, that monkeys are sacred animals in our culture. We pray to them; we have temples in their honour; why, we even believe that they built a bridge.
In other words, if you call an Indian cricketer a “monkey” and a “bastard” during the course of a innings, as Brad Hogg is said to have done, he is more likely to take offence at his parentage being questioned, rather than his lineage.
To fill a vital blank in the education of the bloody bonzers down under, and that of the International Cricket Council, which seems intent on calibrating racism from a colonial point of view in the post-colonial era of the game, churumuri.com offers a short primer on primates in the subcontinent.
# We count them: The first-ever census of monkeys taken in Himachal Pradesh has revealed that the State has 378, 860 monkeys. Langurs, the larger black-faced primates, number 55,180 with female outnumbering males.
# We have specialists to catch them: Two new teams from Assam have been brought to catch monkeys in New Delhi, where a deputy mayor was killed recently after he fell from the second floor of his house while trying to ward off a wild monkey attack.
# We export them: Officials in Himachal Pradesh, who see urban monkeys as little more than nuisances who pester passers-by and steal food, may have a solution to the problem of their overabundance in the State: export them to central Asia. Tajikistan has offered to import the monkeys.
# We watch them drink booze: A group of monkeys descended on an Orissa village, quaffed pots of an intoxicating brew made of marijuana leaves called ‘pana‘ lying in the open, and then set upon the villagers, injuring three of them.
# We fight elections with them: The monkey menace in Himachal Pradesh has become a major poll plank with the contesting parties promising to make an all round effort to overcome the threats posed by roguish simians to farms and crops in the State.
# We sterilise them using lasers: Himachal Pradesh’s new BJP government is planning to train unemployed youths use lasers to sterilise monkeys in a bit to combat the aggressive primates on a war-footing.
# We make movies about them: The Kannada movie producer Rajendra Singh Babu even made a film called Kotigalu saar kotigalu (translation: Monkeys, sir,monkeys), starring Ramesh Arvind and Urvashi.