Friday, January 16, 2004

o pune my pune

The Pune air continues to achieve new shocking levels of excellence[sic]. Gone are the days when people would point to Bombay being more polluted ...

The Shivajingoism continues ... The state has banned James Laine's book. This book was the cause of the senseless literary massacre at the Bhandarkar Oriental Research Institute by the little-known Sambhaji Brigade, the members of which were aggrieved because the institute had allegedly assisted Laine's work on his "controversial" biography of Shivaji. The irony of this cultural rape occurring in a city rich in culture does not go unnoticed. And I'm quite sure that, as was the case with the violence and bans surrounding Deepa Mehta's Fire and mii nathuuraam goDase bolatoy and tumhaarii amritaa, the people with objections to the work in question have probably not even read/seen the contents! And despite the diluting effect of distance, I am shocked. I can see what friends of mine mean when:

(a) they recall memories of being force-fed a bowdlerized version of Shivaji's life story under the garb of History[sic]

(b) they rant about the "freaking" ghaaTis (because of the strong territorial tendencies predicated on the local vernacular of Marathi)

I somehow escaped the issues in (b) to some extent probably because I managed a good grasp of the language. While I see its utility and importance in the city's culture, I can understand what some friends must have gone through (A similar territorial clustering occurs in other linguistic communities too -- Bengali, Tamil, Telugu, Gujarati).

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