Reading Time: 4 minutes
I have been married for five years and I know that my husband is a good man. I love him very much and want nothing but his happiness. But I have noticed that over the past year, he gets very excited when my sister Ashleigh comes over. The two of them sit down and watch the latest Bollywood films together and discuss the merits of what’s going on in the film industry, and they laugh a lot. I have no interest whatsoever in Bollywood, and would not know any of the stars or their latest films. What is beginning to bother me is how much fun Krish has whenever Ash is around, and how they laugh and banter with each other like old friends. I fear that I am losing the interest of my husband to my younger sister. Krish doesn’t really speak about Ash, but when he does, he says complimentary things about her. Is there something going on between the two of them? Do you think I should be worried Auntyji?
What? Ye kaisa ghatya sawal hai? Just because Krish and Ash like Bollywood films and laugh and talk about it right in front of you, in your own house, does not mean anything other than you being deeply paranoid. If those two are doing anything untoward, it’s probably the fact that they are watching the latest Bollywood films, because everyone knows that no good films have come out of Bollywood since Mughal-e-azam and Pakeezah. And maybe Sholay. But that’s it! So I say instead of becoming suspicious over the innocent getting-together of the jeeja and saali, I suggest you either develop an interest in Bollywood, or train your mind not to harbour disgusting thoughts. You say you want your husband to be happy, well, watching a film with Ash makes him happy. So leave it at that. Of course, if the Bollywood sessions start extending late into the night and results in furtive phone calls and guilty looks on their faces when you walk into the room, that’s when you can put on your jasoosi hat to find out if there is kaala in the dhal. Meanwhile, sit down and watch a show with them. You will learn a number of things, including mysteries such as why everyone speaks English in films and why there is no longer any decorum or modesty left. Not like the olden days when there used to bashful glances by heroines whenever the hero turned their full gaze on them. Oh, those were the days! Let me know if Krish and Ash decide to turn their anokha rishtaa into a dil ka rishtaa, then swiftly into a badaltey rishte. You don’t want Ash to become your saajan’s saheli, if you know what I mean!
Last week, in the workplace, I used the term ‘Nigerian scam’ to talk about email scams of which we should be careful, but a colleague accused me of being a racist. I was so stunned that I was left speechless for quite a few minutes, and then stumbled through the rest of the discussion. Auntyji, we all know what a Nigerian scam is. Is it racist to call it that? Why can’t I call it what it is? Please tell me because I am getting quite concerned about not being politically correct in the workplace.
Ah yes, the tricks and tribulations of navigating the social boundaries and rules in the workplace. Well, just because you called something by its commonly known name is not racist, it just makes you ignorant. While the original scams may have commenced in Nigeria, hence the tag ‘Nigerian scam,’ nowadays scams are not confined to this part of the world. You will have scammers and spammers everywhere. So in this instance, it’s better to just say online scam, and leave it at that. Likewise, other terms that can have a pejorative meaning should be considered carefully before use. I would not use for example ‘Chinese whispers,’ ‘Indian giver,’ ‘Mexican standoff’ for this very reason. Language is very powerful and while there are those who will say that those terms are a part of the language and should be used, I feel that any word that has the ability to cast aspersions on an entire group should be avoided. A Nigerian scam does not mean that everyone in Nigeria is guilty of this. Online scam should suffice. Just the term ‘standoff’ conveys meaning without disparaging a group. Calling someone a bania or a ‘Jew’ puts a disparaging label on terms. So use your words carefully. Think about these things and put some thought into your choice of words. Incidentally, it is not lost on me that the term ‘racist’ itself is now misused. Because someone uses a term in ignorance does not make them racist. The term ‘racist’ is nebulous at worst and ill-defined at best, but the bottom line is that, at a most simplistic level, a racist is someone who has ideas and beliefs that their race is superior to others and that racial stereotypes can be used to categorise individuals. So when you say these ‘gore log just drink and have a good time and don’t work hard,’ you are being quite racist. Which gore log? All of them? So don’t make these types of comments and you won’t be considered a racist.
Jeeja-saali jodi? And race row!
Reading Time: 4 minutes