My previous Blog, Snotty Delights, prompted whiney annoyance from some (Indian) readers, one calling me a 24/7 Indian critic, accusing me of visiting India at liberty and then making Indians look terrible. Sigh... I have said the following before and I will state it again:
I love India, my ancestral home. It is a wonderful country, full of amazing contrasts, in everything – people, food, culture, religions, languages, distribution of wealth and others. I feel at home whenever in India; have lived in Mumbai for three wonderful years. I feel safe in India, more so than any other country I have had the fortune to visit. If my Blogs make Indians look terrible, well, they make me look terrible. No? India is both depressing and comical, at times, for me. Depressing because of the poverty and destitution I closely work with. Within this misery and seemingly hopeless situations are hilarious pockets of miracles, of hope, of comedy, some very hilarious. And so I cry and laugh, not at India, but with her, we both weep and rejoice. Else, I’ll go insane and India would implode.
I write what I observe. Period.
So no apologies.
The British ruled India for about 200 years, leaving behind numerous legacies. The railway systems, the sewer system that unbelievably, still works with the original equipment intact in some places, the excellent administrative mindset, cricket of course and the English language, among many.
The Indians have beaten the British in cricket, handily, both in performance and frenzy. Now, Indians can teach their former masters a googly and doosra or two and make billions in the process. One other area that the British have been soundly beaten is in the Hinglish language. Several Hindi words have crept into the ‘official’ English dictionary already and with the way Indians seem to be exploding in the UK, I won’t be surprised to see English become Hinglish in the next fifty years; too bad I won’t be around to experience the comical evolution.
Several years ago, I moved to Dubai on behalf of my employer, who asked me to go house hunting with a real estate agent. It turned out to be a young Muslim Bohra woman from Surat India, quite attractive and bubbly, with a flair of twisting the English language into sidesplitting comedy that made for very interesting couple of days. She spoke the language well, except she composed and mixed her sentences as she would for her mother tongue – Gujarati; a lethal concoction.
It was a very warm late April day when Nafeesa Emraheemji came to my office and took me around about five different properties that fit my employers rent budget. As soon as she realized I understood Gujarati, she was tongue loose, letting off banter that made me warm up to her, but gave me very nervous, heart thumping moments as well.
When I told her I associated Bohri women with colorful chadoors, Nafeesa snorted in contempt, Huh, I will not let a senile budho (meaning the Bohri spiritual guide stationed in Mumbai, India) sitting somewhere in Mumbai dictate what I should and should not wear. Hmmm, this was definitely something new. But what killed me was the combination of Hindi and English she used. Shit yaar, she’d say to an offending or errant driver who cut her off or Don’t take tension, yaar when I held on to dear life as she made an illegal U-turn on a busy street off Khalid Bin Waleed Street. The next day, we were looking at new construction off Karama. Walking down a street, it was hot and noisy, with construction and vehicle traffic hooting away when we passed a juice store. Why don’t we have a cool drink, it’s hot and very horny here, said Nafeesa. My heart skipped a beat and I looked at her in astonishment, until it dawned on me she was referring to the hooting traffic. Struggling to keep a straight face, I joined her to have a cool drink.
The Chief Minister’s Assassin – A novel
My novel (print version) has sold almost 320 copies so far, with fantastic reviews. Not bad, really. Those interested can now purchase a copy for US$20 (proceeds still benefit CAI’s worldwide orphanage projects). A copy can be ordered from:
Me in the USA – firstname.lastname@example.org
Fatema Alibhai in Canada – email@example.com
Sabira Somji in Dubai – firstname.lastname@example.org
Nazir Merali in the UK – email@example.com
Murtaza Bhimani in Tanzania – firstname.lastname@example.org