Before I start, let me clarify that I hold no prejudice against any community, religion and ethnic group. Indeed, there are only two things that enjoy my biased hatred - cats and bananas. But the brain is a different ball game. It can manufacture new opinions and perceptions at will. One bad incident and it cooks up a new one. And then the mouth awaits eagerly for the flimsiest of provocations to vomit it.
In my case the problem is further aggravated because I suffer from the my-feet-taste-really-good syndrome; it’s basically a version of foot-in-the-mouth disease and just as incurable.
The story starts with Raj Thackeray’s anti-Bhaiya rhetoric. I don’t subscribe to it. But it takes only one tiring day, a rude auto rickshaw driver to create a new opinion. So, on one real painful day I’m waiting for a rickshaw to go back home. It’s not quite late, but I’m dead tired. And the waiting is taking its toll on me. Finally one arrives, I ask him to take me to Andheri station, he replies back in his Bihari tone, “Nahi jana”. I ask why. He says, because he doesn’t feel like it. At that moment I loose my temper, I start abusing him, he starts abusing me. I start hitting him, he starts ducking. After sometime we are tired and decide to part ways. The altercation leaves me even more tired. I decide to walk up to my friends place and crash there.
Once at my friend’s place my anger subsides. My friend, his wife and I enjoy a hearty dinner. And as it was still early to sleep, I decide to read the newspaper. That’s when a common friend of ours rings the doorbell. Accompanying him are his wife, younger brother, cousin brother and cousin younger-brother. We know all of them, so it's cool. There was only one problem - they were all from Bihar and somehow it slipped my mind.
We all chatted for some time, had a few rounds of whisky and then the conversation turned to taxi drivers in Singapore. (The visiting friend had just returned from Singapore.) He told us how he was overcharged and duped by a taxi driver in Singapore. He also says the taxi driver was rude. This was the sign I needed to vent my anger again. I started then and there, “I am sure the taxi driver must have been a Bihari…bastards always over charge and behave as if they doing us a favour... sala you need to beg them…bh*****od, everyone of them should be given solid phatka on his head.”
I didn’t stop there.
My victims were no longer restricted to rickshaw driver. The whole of Bihar became the target of my foul-mouthed abuse. I spared none: Yadav, Singh, Kumars, Lalu, Patna, Chat Puja, Dhobies, Uncle, Aunties, everyone. I went on and on. Not realizing even once that majority of people in the room were Biharis.
Anyways, I finally stopped, emptied another glass of whiskey and went to sleep. The next day my friend’s wife innocently asked me, “Do you have any clue what you did yesterday?” I pretended to be thinking. I looked at my friend, he was smiling. “You were abusing the whole of Bihar,” he said. “Ya! So I had reasons!” I spat back. He said, “And where do you think all our friends are from?”
Oh shit, oh shit! I really felt sorry. I thought I should call and apologise, but my friend said, “Look they understood it wasn’t personal. You were just venting your anger on a rickshaw driver. I think its cool, just don’t do it again. And if you do, don’t do it in my place.”
I said I’m sorry and decided to be careful.
Fast forward to first weekend of the new-year. A Bengali friend of ours decided to throw a weekend party. Unlimited booze and unlimited chatting. We are all bashing Mr. George Bush. It was my turn to say something. I started, “The problem with Bush is that he is from Texas. Now you see Texas is basically the Bhi”…pause…longer pause…I froze…looked at my friend…he had this ‘not-again-dude’ look…he knew exactly what was coming out of my mouth. I looked at my Bihari friend, he was telepathically saying, “This time you are dead.” Another friend of mine was giggling. I was in this about-to-vomit position with a complicated ‘Bhi’ hanging loose from my mouth.
I still had to complete the sentence. Others were waiting. I quickly started looking for option. B stands for Bombay, Broadway, Bimbisaar Nagar, Bhilai, Bingo, Bishen Singh Bedi, Biwi ho toh aisi, Biwandi, Brinjal..…nothing could replace Bihar.
There is only one Bihar and there is only one Texas. And in my inebriated opinion, you can only interchange them with each other. There is no other replacement.
That’s when a guardian angel appeared and whispered something to me.
I had no other option. I had to un-swallow my foot. “Yes, yes, exactly, it’s like Bhopal. Y’know, small town and stuff, inhabited by uncivilized people and assholes.” Everyone else agreed.
I saved my skin just in time. My friend eyes were saying, “So, smart ass, nikal gayi sab akad?” I smiled back and quietly went to refill my glass.
My friend and I are both from Bhopal.
(nikal gayi sab akad?....means, all your pomp and pride has vanished?)
About the Author: Fritz Gonsalves is a writer with O&M. In his free time he is a food critic and a very precise food critic - he don't go looking for adjectives to descibe food; he just eats it.
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