Monday, July 14, 2008

Jay Mata Di (or, Victory to the Mother)

Technology: neither evil nor good, but rather, a force to be reckoned with. Personally, I reckon that technology is currently contributing greatly to the great potential that Delhi men of a certain (young) age and socio-economic status have to be entitled, penis-bearing, big huge jerks.

Exhibit A: cars

It's now common knowledge that the burgeoning Indian middle class is buying cars in record numbers, creating more traffic than most roads in India can handle, especially when you throw in all the livestock and cycle rickshaws. About a week ago, Todd and I were taking a cycle rickshaw on a somewhat crowded road when a car packed full of 20-something Indian males pulled up behind us and proceeded to lay on the horn non-stop. As in, they were going to sit on the horn until the rickshaw got out of the way. Car horns are loud and sit exactly on the threshold of pain; drivers in their AC-infused bubble don't have to deal with the sound, which might account for some of their ability to hold the horn down for indefinite periods of time. Of course, our poor guy, pedaling as hard as he could, couldn't pull over because, well, the road was packed with cars and rickshaws. The horn was loud. And constant. So I turned around and looked at the car thinking perhaps they would lay off the horn if someone made eye contact with them, which of course did not happen, at which point I decided to do a little impromptu anthropological experiment to see if in fact the bird carries meaning here in India, with Todd joining me in this experiment.

I can report that the bird has, in fact, landed in India, if the drivers of the car behind us are any indication. So there was cathartic flipping off all round, and then our cycle rickshaw-walla finally got an opening to pull over and the terrible boy-men screeched by, on their way to wherever it was they were in such a hurry to get to. Except, amazingly, they drove to the end of the road, pulled over, and waited for us to catch up, at which point the one in the passenger seat frantically rolled down his window (not wanting to let out the precious AC air before we arrived) and shouted a heavily accented but passable "Suck my d*ck, you whore!," after which the driver hit the gas hard enough to squeal the tires and they were off in their little middle class chariot of a Maruti, frantically rolling up the window as they sped off towards Delhi gate. So we can conclude that internet pornography may not be such a bad thing, since it has clearly enhanced the English vocabulary of untold masses of emergent middle class Indian males.

Exhibit B: Cell phones

Just last night I was negotiating a fare with a local cycle rickshaw driver. It was taking longer than usual because Sunday is everyone's day off and for a remarkable number of these poor laborers, Sunday is the day to drink hard and heavy, so that by 8 a very high percentage of them are quite drunk. The cycle rickshaw guy was actually explaining that he couldn't take me (good call, methinks) and he was trying - kindly - to give me walking directions to my destination when a little group of young emergent middle class Indian men with their cell phones came walking across the parking area.

Here I must emphasize that this parking lot was nearly empty and that it had, by urban Indian standards, a cavernous amount of free space. So this pack of cell-phone wielding boys came closer, their leader somewhat oblivious of his surroundings because he, like many cell-phone owners, was engrossed in some riveting bout of text messaging (or maybe a really good game of snake. Hard to say). He got to where I was standing and without skipping a beat proceeded to push his way between myself and the rickshaw driver, uttering an indignant "excuse me," as he went. Because clearly walking behind me in the aforementioned cavernous amount of free space would have been too inconvenient. Or unmanly. Or something.

A new fearsome Hindu goddess needs to be created - one who wields a cell phone and car keys in addition to a sword and a severed head. Young men would be required to perform puja to her regularly, and at the slightest sign of abuse of technology, the Mother who giveth the accouterments of bourgeois living would take them away, possibly raining down a healthy dose of impotence or smallpox for good measure.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I remember someone else who worshipped the Mother and you, knitcrit, said he was crazy. Probably was crazy too! Hope the weather isn't too punishing in Delhi! I miss it more lately.