I face a lot of flak when I say I don’t like Mumbai. Well, thats not entirely true. I like Bombay. I like visiting and partying there. But I prefer my life and the luxuries of Delhi. Which is fair enough. Some of us prefer living in the hills. Some of us want to move to the US and others want to chill out on the beaches of Goa. But this is not about me – it’s about this post I bumped into.
A blogger writes about wanting to reclaim Bombay and everything that it stands for. Read it here. I so loved what she said. And it spoke to me. I loved Bombay when I lived there almost 10 years ago. But over the years the Shiv Sena and the anti-rest of the country movement it spearheads, put me off. I like living in Delhi because no one can throw me out. And because no one wants to erase years of history and insist on it being called Dilli – yet.
So read this post, and bring back Bombay. Please.
While talking about those self appointed guardians of Indian culture who want to erase the foreign name (I wonder if they came wearing dhotis and kurtas) – we’d like Karnataka back too, please. After the churches being attacked and burnt, it’s now secular places too.
A pub in Mangalore is attacked and the women are physically pushed out, because they were – and here I quote the Ram Sena activists – “involving themselves in immoral activities, including consuming alcohol, dressing indecently, and mixing with youths of other faith”. Yes, you got that right – it wasn’t raided by the police for illegal activities. It was raided by self appointed moral police for perfectly legal activities that they deemed immoral.
Whew. What does one say to such people? Or of such people? It’s a sad day when you can’t sit down for a drink because you’re a woman and the men with you are not from other ‘faiths.’ I don’t know where to begin objecting. Would be it okay if it were men mixing with men of other faith and having a friendly drink? Is it just women who are not allowed to mix with people of other faith? Would it be okay to mix with men of other faith if there is no alcohol involved? In that case, are they saying women shouldn’t be drinking? Is it the clothing they objected to? In that case would it be okay if instead of jeans the women came to the bar in sarees? Were the Ram Sena activists dressed in dhoti kurtas? Am I asking silly questions?
Do forgive me. The mind boggles – women can’t have a drink at a pub because some hitherto unknown group called the Ram Sena says so? Who died and made them moral police? The more we try to progress, the more chances there are of some rabid dogs hanging on to our hems and pulling us down, nipping at our ankles.
The thing is, we can ignore them, like we do the Shiv Sena. Call them a regressive bunch of hooligans who are doing this to get the national spotlight. Or we can ask why the government is doing nothing about it. Why they aren’t being locked up for disturbing the law and order at a place that is licenced to sell liquor (I hope!) to adults who have every right to sit there and pay for their liquor and enjoy it over some good conversation? Why are they being allowed to roam around scot free and give pompous, self righteous interviews on national television? Ram Sena founder P Muthalik said that his men were protecting people against immoral activities – of course. Because as adults we don’t know what is best for us, but some louts who barge into pubs and pull women by the hair, call them prostitutes and throw them out of the pub know better?
When will we tell the moral police that you cannot go around breaking shops on Valentine’s day, telling actresses what length their skirts should be, breaking temples, burning churches and trains, pulling apart couples in parks and telling people they can’t have a peaceful drink??? Are they jealous? Is the real problem that they don’t seem to meet any women who are willing to sit and have a drink with them? Will someone tell them that caveman tactics don’t work and they can’t drag women around by the hair simply because they chose to have a drink with someone more refined, genteel and educated than them?
Mangalore is outraged they say. Alright then Mangalore, show us how outraged you are. Why don’t the citizens of Mangalore do a peaceful dharna somewhere until all 40 of those men are put into jail? Sitting far away in front of our TV screens and PCs we don’t care, but we must. What if that were you, in your town? You know that day isn’t far off, right?
This is about more than just this occasion. It’s about little explosions taking place around our country while we miss the signs. Growing intolerance of people who make choices different to ours. Our growing tolerance for violence as a response to everything. Don’t like the way those people eat? Beat them up. Don’t like them meeting in parks? Beat them up. Don’t like the way girls from your community mix with guys from the other? Beat them up. Don’t like the way they worship? Beat them up. Don’t like the way they dress? Beat them up.
What about liquor baron Mallya doing something about this? He has the money and means. And it’s about liquor! Where are all the powerful people in this country and what are they doing?
59 years of being a republic today, and we’re still wasting time over changing Bombay’s name and telling women that their place is in the kitchen. And it won’t stop until we learn – violence is not the answer. It’s never justified. Not when you’re burning trains. Not when you’re beating up women in a pub. Shame on us.