"This Ashis Nandy chap..."
"What about Ashis Nandy?"
"He could be so idiotic sometimes"
"I thought you liked him. Like like types"
"I do. But sometimes, he is so silly"
"What did he do now?"
Was the article inflammatory as the complaint suggests?
It seems inflammatory because it challenges the self-serving illusions of the middle class against which it is directed. But since when have attacks on the middle class become a means of fomenting enmity among communities? My attack may seem strident, but it is tame compared to, say, Bankimchandra Chattopadhyay's critique of the Bengali middle class, a prescribed text in Bengal for at least seven decades. A middle class that can't stand radical criticism is not really a middle class; it only has middle-class income. I admit I am a traitor to my class, but I am in good company.
"What are you chuckling about?"
"Well I have always found Mr Nandy entertaining"
"Not the point"
"What's your problem dude?"
"You mean you don't see it?"
"One. Assume you are in trouble with like the whole of Gujarat. And you are being interviewed by this magazine and you are explaining away / justifying your actions. What do you do?"
"I don't know"
"Well, Tell me what you don't do"
"How do I know?"
"I will tell you what you don't do. You do NOT draw a parallel to Bengal. That is guaranteed to make the situation worse"
"Yeah but who said he is trying to get out of this? From what I know of Nandy, he lives for such controversies. Why would he ever want to get out of this? You must admit that it is a lot of fun"
"Yeah but that's not the point"
"You just told me that it is"
"No, I did not"
"Then what is the point?"
"He drew a parallel to Bongs. Did you read that?"
"Do you know how that makes me feel?"
"You? Dude, if something makes you feel, that must be something. But I have no idea why"
"You are being silly now. He drew a parallel to Bongs. Implying that Gujjus are comparable to Bongs. Can you imagine a worse insult to us Bongs?"
"You bloody racist"
"This has got nothing to do with being racist"
"Okay, regionalist. Bongist. Whatever. Thank Bamse you never lived in Bongland. You would have been some Thackeray type character"
"Don't be silly. No way. We need these people to do the work"
"Oh yes. These inferior people!"
"Obviously. Now you begin to see my point"
"I do indeed. And all I can say is its all okay as I am sure the Gujjus feel the exact same way"