The other day, I finally watched the episode of Koffee with Karan that had the so-called awesome ladies - Deepika Padukone and Sonam Kapoor in konversation with Karan Johar. Yes, I was jobless on a Sunday afternoon and I really wanted to see what the yap was all about. As it turned out, it was really much ado about nothing! The women were dressed in identical looking evening gowns. One in brown and another in red. The one in red was so clearly uncomfortable in the outfit, that you really wonder who forced them to dress up that way! Plus, I could decipher precious little through the whole konversation, primarily because Karan and the two women were too busy giggling like little girls throughout the show! It beats me how anyone could have understood anything from the entire show to create a fuss about anything at all!
All this is still beside the point. The point was the way one of the women spoke - complete with an accent. She acts in Hindi movies,is an Indian (unlike Ms Kaif, who makes no bones about the fact that she's firang), but still says frraaands, instead of friends. No, I don't wish to pronounce the word in the Pnjabbi way. But you get the drift.
Unfortunately, this is an epidemic sweeping across all of the upwardly mobile Indian population. It's a hilarious bug that's hitching on to almost anyone who has driven past the international airport! Fake accents are the thing of the day. So it's byilding, and not bilding. It's yaaas and not yes. It's fridee and not Friday. At times it's even Karadee, and not Karate, although ages ago, when we were still a developing country, we said karate as in karatay. The actual pronunciation is kara-tay from the Japanese kara- hatay. But since the west says 'the next karadee kid', we switch to karadee too!
If the obsession stopped with the accent, things would have just stayed funny. But the fixation goes beyond just speech to dressing and eating habits! So, formal clothes worn by Jennifer Aniston look good only on her! Indian women (and I don't mean the size zero wannabes) trying to fit into clothes of those dimensions are a pitiful cry for help. Self-proclaimed fashionista Sonam Kapoor herself declared that no one in the Indian film industry has a half decent fashion sense, (except her of course). So, if the glam industry has no sense, the common woman, clearly has no fashion sense. So, what is typically a pregnancy top in the west, becomes a cool, hip top in urban India. Someone wore it somewhere in a SoBo do, and it becomes the next biggest fashion statement! Firang evening gowns look good on well, firangs. But such is our fixation with all things firang, that we'd force fit ourselves into such a gown, and look like a complete, well, fish out of water.
Even dressing sense, is perhaps a thing that maybe just deserves some sympathy. What is most worrisome is the eating trend. Central obesity is a stark reality. Just look around you at the number of rotund people on roads or trains or in cars. The number of cars in Mumbai has blown out of control. People shy away from walking 10 feet. The other day, as part of an altercation over the phone, with a certain shopkeeper, I flatly refused to go and visit his shop for the 7th time for my merchandise and insisted he deliver it at my place. His reaction was, "Madam, aap mat aao. Driver ko bhej do!" So, the general understanding is that everyone, everywhere is spoilt for comfort. Nobody ever walks and the result is that India is turning into a plus sized country! Scary? Yes indeed. The stress levels, the filthy eating habits, the obsession with junk food, all point towards a ticking time bomb!
If only we'd not be so ashamed of being who we are! Indian English is understandable and it stands out, just like a German accent or a Japanese accent. Indian clothes are an object of awe the world over. The sari is by and far one of the most elegant, yet sensuous outfits of all time. And our food and food habits, well, most of it at least, is heralded as true healthy food. If only we'd really be proud to be Indian...