The New Orientalism…(sigh)

SIGH
*Cringe*….*double cringe*…ok so having not blogged for while due to various reasons, I was scouting around blogger.com only to find a “blog of note” called Aziz’s Blog. As much as it pisses me off to generate more traffic for Mr. Aziz, I have no option but to do so, as Mr Aziz’s travels are the reason for writing Voice From A 2.5 World Country….
(Mr.) Aziz happens to be somebody of type ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) – NOTE I say TYPE, because Mr. Aziz is actually a Canadian (CBCD?) , and although he may not be born in Canada, he definitely has all the markings of the -BCD type. So Mr. Aziz is blogging from his trip to India. SO what do you do when you go to India? Well as anybody familiar with Orientalism would know, you would find yourself the most godforsaken part of the country, go there, work for an NGO, and then report that this is what all of India must be like. It’s just great.

There are lovely snippets from his blog like: “They must not have pasta in India”….I am sure that the Olive Bar & Kitchen, Diva, La Piazza, Big Chill, Flavours, Italiano, San Gimigiano, Trattoria and a host of other restaurants which dish out really good non-Indianised Italian food will be pretty surprised to hear that, as am I.

Then a whole bunch of other observations, which are broad,sweeping, moronic.

“Delhi is a very polluted city” (He says this, and then he heads out to Jaipur). Unfortunately, I don’t have the statistics URL on hand right now, but Delhi is now one of the LEAST polluted cities in India. It has a lot to do with something called CNG which Mr. Aziz is not familiar with. He should look it up, since he seems to be making an effort to “report” about India. Another interesting comment is about why India is “isolated” from the rest of the world. It is because our news channels (he takes the example of NDTV) are totally inward-focussed…This is just such a load of bullshit it’s hilarious. I don’t know how “global” the Canadian TV channels are, but having experienced American news first-hand, I can say that our News Channels are lot more “global” than America….

Then Mr. Aziz goes on to say that we are so “proud” of the fact that we are a democracy, we don’t stop to analyse anything, because we are so busy being proud…apparently it’s alright for the Western world to trumpet the causes of freedom, democracy human rights, but when us brownies revel in the fact that we are democracy (as opposed to a failed state, like countless other former colonies of different empires), we should shut up, because there are still people starving, still people peeing on the roads, and still people murdering other people. We are not allowed to value our right to criticize, or our right to peacefully remove a government from power to replace it with a new one, oh no. Thank you Mr. Aziz.

It is this person’s account of India, and all of those people before him that force me to carry on my crusade…..If you go to this person’s blog, you will see the standard picture of India that is presented to you time and again. Lots of poor hungry starving people on display. Dirt. Stories of cows and pigs. Complaints about spicy food. Condescending stories about the “natives”. All the regular stuff. Basically, Mr. Aziz fell for the Filth Factor. And of course, because said blogger needs a little re-inforcement, he seems to be sticking to all our regular loved Indian authors (Naipaul, Roy, Seth, Mistry ) – the ones that refuse to write about 21st Century India. They all have to pick 1947, or some other time of misery to write about, otherwise how else will they get noticed and awarded those lovely prizes? They can’t possibly write about Happy Indians, God Forbid. Or something Good happening in India. Maybe Mr. Aziz does what he does with full knowledge, maybe not, but he plays right into the hands of the same maliciousness that has been going on since the first Western European set foot on a “foreign” shore. The standard example of assuming that even in a country of one billion people and sub-continental land-mass, the author’s experience must the genuine standard one-size-fits-all experience of India, and no other version could be true.

I’m not going to ramble about everything positive that is happening in India. Because the standard Western refrain about India runs as follows. “In India <insert positive development here> but there are lots of poor people and everybody is dying, so this small positive development means nothing”.

I guess the only way to counter posts of hungry, starving people, is with pictures of people who aren’t, followed up with pictures of a non-filthy side of India….(a tactic which has been used by yours truly before starting to blog…) .

It is sad when people with Indian origins/roots decide to depict India in this manner. They are after all the people who will “Market” India to the rest of the World. And this is what they choose to show.

But of course, this is also the type of stuff that gets you noticed. If said blogger had something good to say about India, he’d probably not have made it to the Blogs of Note list. Just like Arundhati Roy would not have got her award if she wrote the story of a middle-class Indian studying hard, getting a job as a Software Engineer, and earning more money than his family had seen in a generation. Or even Rohinton Mistry, who decided to show India as it existed under Indira Gandhi’s Emergency. Would he have gotten a place on Oprah’s show if he’d said something about how India is only a 57-year old country, and progressing fast? Nope. Better to tell a story about a bunch of poor people, who have to beg for a living, and some others who commit suicide, get divorced, oh and there’s a nice castration and caste war to boot.

Mr. Aziz is looking for a book deal. He will probably get it, as he’s playing right into the hands of the publishers. Best of luck to you sir.

Thank God for blogging.

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