Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Queen Victoria and the Three Chauvinist Bears

One wouldn't exactly say that it was with great, big, welling tears in his voluminous, Donkey eyes that your favourite barn-yard correspondent wandered up the gangway of Indira Ghandi International Airport for the last time on Saturday Night. I had just suffered a week of being metaphorically turkey-slapped by every high-ranking official from the Indian Ministry of Foreign Affairs as I tried to organise my exit papers, and this was followed by a walk through the furnace-like heat, with it's dust-laden twenty feet of visibility, amongst the most uncaring, and unforgiving traffic in the world, and by the time my last hours of Delhi daylight had faded into the hazy smog, I was pretty-well at the end of my tolerance for my home of the last eighteen months.

The traffic on the way to the airport (from the inside of a car, this time), was equally harrowing thanks to the city's questionable attempts to showcase its even more questionable modern infrastructure to the international Commonwealth Games-viewing public (at the expense of acres and acres of itinerant housing settlements – leaving millions homeless each day), and my mood didn't improve all that dramatically when faced with a $180 excess baggage bill and a final kick-in-the-ass in the form of a forty minute wait in the immigration queue. And, to add insult to injury, I'd have to say, that last forty minutes wasn't sweetened by the huge hoardings on all the walls, floor and ceiling suggesting that "together, Delhi will show the world in 2010". "Lotta work to do!", that's all I can say. So, no, it wasn't as a blubbering mess that Donkey squeezed his oversized butt into an airline seat last Saturday night – far from it.

Sad to admit that my last little stretch in Delhi wasn't the most enjoyable couple of months of my life, but while I'm a bit down on the place now, I guess the bad will fade from my memory in time, and the good (of which there is plenty) will soon boil over to bore the pants off all whom I meet, "Yes, we lived in New Delhi – it was wonderful! Best years of our lives..." Not sure how long this cycle will take to complete, but I wouldn't be surprised if, come the 2010 Commonwealth Games, I will have become completely sucked-in by the Indian Government's propaganda, and I'll be the biggest Indiaphile in the Commonwealth.

Which brings me to my point for this post – why do countries like India, or just about any other country in the Commonwealth, want to remain a member of that horrible club? Didn't Ghandi, the father of the biggest nation on Earth, wander across the country dressed in nothing but an old Cornwall (ironic!) potato sack, in order to OVERTHROW THE HATED BRITISH!?! It's rhetorical - of course he friggin' did! So after 150 years of extreme repression, followed shortly afterwards by perhaps one of the bloodiest roads to Independence the world has ever seen, these people decide they not only want to join the club set up by the bastards who have been killing their sons and daughters for generations, they also want to throw a big party for them as they host the Commonwealth Games in 2010!

But not only that, in "beautifying" the city for the big show, they are upholding the fine old traditions on which the entire Commonwealth was founded, and committing the kinds of atrocities upon their own people that the Brits once dealt out to them!

Isn't it funny how things go? It was all this and more which was washing over me as I launched into the big black some one-and-a-half hours behind schedule on Saturday evening. The "and more" had to do with Delhi society (one of the most unsocially-minded I have ever experienced), and in particular, the way they treat each other, especially if one happens to be of the lower classes, lower castes or, lowest of all, a woman!

To help explain the complexities of social India a little better, I call upon the grand old children's story, Goldilocks and the Three Bears. You'll remember that little Goldi busts into a house, a completely unwanted guest, and helps herself to the porridge. Now, you will recall from the story that the hot porridge was given to Papa Bear, 'cause the man of the house gets the best of everything. And so it is in lower to middle, to upper class Delhi society – the man gets everything he wants, and that just happens to be the best of everything.

The next hottest meal on the breakfast buffet that morning went to Baby Bear, who happens to be male also, and the first born, and there's no child more spoilt in this world than those rolley-polley Indian sons-and-heirs who love to ram their new remote-controlled cars, their brand-spanking new bicycles, their drivable, motorised toy cars or their new, league-standard soccer balls into the heads, ankles, hips and stomachs of passers-by, while their doting parents beam their admiration from the sidelines. I once even witnessed a wealthy father, with knuckle-white, closed fists, take to the head of a young, grimy beggar boy for getting in the way of his prized heir, even though the now-squealing young porker had deliberately swerved toward the helpless urchin with the intention of running him down. In a matter of seconds, the incessant, piercing ring of the bicycle bell was replaced by the sound of a dozen hungry piglets as the waddling blubber-ball donated a fair quantity of celebrated, first-born skin to the New Delhi pavement – poetic justice perhaps, but the young, innocent street-ling still copped a ferocious hiding.

So Papa Bear got the hot porridge, and Baby Bear got the warm porridge. Interesting that in India, it's always the poor old sod that does all the work who gets shafted, and that's usually a woman. So in the story, it was Mama Bear, after slaving away at the stove for hours, who ended up not being able to eat her porridge until it'd gone cold.

There's only one other in the Indian family structure who cops it worse than Mama Bear. Did you ever hear what Sister Bear's porridge was like? Of course you didn't, 'cause when Mama Bear's real first-born turned out to be female, she ended up taking a swim in a well – just like in India!

So if the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears is a comment on social structures in India, then who is Goldilocks? Hmmm ... now who could that be, I wonder? Let's see ... she's blond, pale skinned, has blue eyes – probably not Indian, so I guess she's European. She barges in uninvited, and helps herself to the spoils of the labour, gets first dibs on even Papa Bear's porridge, without so much as a second thought, and then retires in the early part of the day for a nap.

I don't know about you, but I'm drawing a pretty clear resemblance between Goldilocks and a once powerful, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-their-mouths, heartless colonial ruler who set its own citizens up as the highest caste in the land, reaped the spoils of all and sundry, and retired early in the day for a nap. So that's it, Goldilocks is Britain, and the Three Bears are the social and familial classes of India. And you thought it was just a good, old fashioned children's tale about a sweet, innocent little girl and some nasty woodland creatures. Not so, it's a cleverly disguised fable with a subliminal message to teach our children that while repression of an entire nation is strictly inappropriate, geneal repression of women within society is both tolerable, and necessary to ensure the ongoing stability of the family name and fortune. Goodness me, it's no wonder the world is going down the tubes!

The only question that remains, of course, is what comparison can be drawn from Goldilocks' rather grizzly demise when the oppressed Indian classes found her napping in their beds? Well India hasn't quite gobbled England and her G8 allies completely up as yet, but if the economists and their forecasts are even half-correct, the Three Bears are well on their way to making the biggest Goldilocks kebab the world has ever seen. No doubt they're timing their supper for well after 2010, however; after all, in typical sycophantic style, there'd be no reason to ruin the great party they're throwing for their Commonwealth friends.


In the ridiculous heat, the streets of Delhi can be a most unforgiving environment – and yes, that guy next to Mrs Donkey is clearing his sinuses. Pic: Hagas


sabrina said...

Great analogy Donkey

I'm sorry you're so angry though....hope things 'clear' up soon :p

DonkeyBlog said...

Hey, Ta Sabrina. I'm not angry - just a bit lonely back here in Melbourne and getting ready for a new adventure ... a bit whingie, perhaps ;)

The Editor said...

I've never understood how India could tolerate having a female Prime Minister despite all that chucking the wife on hubbies funeral pyre attitude.

DonkeyBlog said...

The Editor - Yeah, that always got me a bit stumped, but I guess that's the thing with India - it's all double standards for the rich ... come to think of it, that's a pretty common cancer across the world!

Mrs Donkey said...

Some say that Indira Gandhi only got in because of her surname (which by the way she got by marrying the son of Gandhi, a muslim who was adopted by Gandhi as an adult, partly to show india that different religions could indeed live together), which brought with it respect and meaning. She exploited that to become rich and powerful, and being a woman didnt matter anymore - as a rich person she could do anything. She ended her exploitative and privileged life assassinated by her Sikh bodyguards, out of revenge for yet more socially destructive actions.

Its OK to be a woman in India if you are rich.

The Editor said...

I always thought the middle classes from any place had a sort of universality especially Doctors, maybe because they all end up speaking English to get through the textbooks.

The latest failed bomb thing at Glasgow airport with that guy setting fire to himself kind of negates that theory because they were all Doctors and therefore neither completely thick nor uneducated. .

Talk about viruses of the mind...