Out of Order

Leave the culture alone, Mahesh Sharma

This is me, hitting the exit button on this idea of Indian culture and the collective conscience.

 |  Out of Order  |  3-minute read |   20-09-2015
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Of late, I have noticed this intrusive phenomenon on Facebook that clutters my otherwise sullen notifications tab. There are all these food, fashion and furniture groups that I have been inducted into without my permission and I am forced to read (and sometimes even indulge in) morbid discussions about chairs and chowmein with an emotion, which is equal parts existential fervour and depraved enthusiasm from looking at pictures of fudge. A great feature of these Facebook groups, however, is that I can relinquish my membership with one swift click of a button.

Indian culture and the collective conscience, are like these Facebook groups. I was never asked if I’d like to be part of them, but am forcefully included in the grand phenomena anyway. The trouble is, not only are there no fancy pictures of teacups and plush, unaffordable leather couches, there are dhotied and khakied uncles running the show and I don’t really know which button to push so I can leave. There needs to be an exit. I want no part in a culture that does not allow me to go out at night and dictates what I should and should not read or watch. Heck, I want no affiliation with a “culture” that can mix roads with religion and exponentially worsen the connotations of the term “road rage” (this is really saying something considering I am from north India, where hockey sticks beat people to pulp with gay abandon for making the heinous mistake of overtaking the entitled ass who keeps them in his backseat). I mean, if you’re going to tell me I can’t wear short skits, at least take the trouble of getting rid of the camel toe protest your khaki shorts seem to be staging for your very own sartorial overhaul. Seriously, much like that fashion faux pas, I want out.

Then there is the “collective conscience”. The excuse that gives the death penalty a green signal. The excuse that seems to make honour killing a hallowed act of cultural preservation. The excuse that makes marital rape legal and makes consent look like the unwanted food crumb on the well-oiled manly moustache of patriarchy. This is not my conscience. It seems to have been muddled with the conscience of a band of dhotied uncles and tossed into a cauldron of confused morality. How and why my poor consensual-coitus-loving, expletive-spouting, alcohol-drinking, non-murder-condoning conscience was admitted into this collective, I will never know. But please, I want out.

Being forcefully incorporated into these coalitions is not something I enjoy. Therefore, Mr minister Mahesh Sharma, do not tell me that I must cook in the same kitchen as 7,689 other women or read what you read for my moral values (these tomes on ethics seem to have worked out damn well for you, by the way your comment on Dr Kalam being a nationalist IN SPITE OF being a Muslim reveals aspirational reading). Do not tell me I can not go out at night. Instead, join us in the egregious blasphemy that is a night out on the town – “God” knows you could do with a drink. And most of all, when you want to renovate our cultural discourse by ridding it of Western influence, do not tell me I need to dress like a Victorian era damsel, covered to the chin in uncomfortable ruffles and corsets. It really does as little for your image as a nationalist as it does for my function-over-fashion mantra.

So, this is me, hitting the exit button on this idea of Indian culture and the collective conscience, both of which seem to be formed from the historical and sociological perspective of a teaspoon. It has the sobriety, vegetarianism, rape and blood of several people on its hands. And I want no part in this excuse.

Now, leave me alone. Those pictures of fudge won’t look at themselves.


Asmita Bakshi Asmita Bakshi @asmitabee

The writer is a law graduate and ball of rage. She tweets @asmitabee and eats everywhere

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