Twinkle Khanna in Mrs Funnybones
A haircut is meant to be a relaxing procedure. Someone gently washes your mane, scissors fly around, and then after a blast with the only sort of hot air that one should tolerate, you leave the premises with a bounce both in your curls and in your step.
But a few days ago when I went to the beauty salon I made the unfortunate mistake of asking the young girl rubbing conditioner into my hair if she was married. When she claimed that being in the salon all day didn’t give her time to meet anyone, my light-hearted suggestion of choosing a man out of the many working at the salon led to an explosion, as she immediately retorted, ‘They are all Muslims, no baba, they have permission to just cut anyone, kill and all!’
Taken aback by her vehement response and wondering who the ‘they’ were that gave people permission to cut people open, I said, ‘I am sure you mean people in the Taliban, ISIS or something, not these chaps here, wearing aprons and applying hair dye on geriatric society ladies.’
She replied, ‘Don’t know, I just don’t like them.’ And so while my frothing-at-the-mouth fanatic started untangling my hair, I felt my thoughts tangling up simultaneously.
How do such strong prejudices form, this sheer unfairness of tarring an entire sect of people with the same brush? In a world divided by religion where battles are fought and monuments pulled down over what boils down to a simple tenet — my belief is better than yours — how does one get people to see things without distortions. And doesn’t the situation worsen when members of the ruling party make statements such as this one by culture minister Mahesh Sharma who, in a recent interview, said, ‘I respect Bible and Quran but they are not central to the soul of India in the same way as Gita and Ramayana are.”
I for one didn’t know the soul of India was secretly Hindu and was hiding under a secular blanket, like the bogeyman on Halloween, waiting to pop out and startle us at the right moment by showing its true saffron colours.
But in deference to the dear minister’s version of Hindu culture, I have my copy of Ramayana ready. In fact, I was reading it to my daughter last Sunday. Unfortunately from the minister’s perspective, this adaptation is from Sita’s perspective and so he may have yet another problem with it because seeing a story from a woman’s point of view may also not be Indian enough.
Though I tried to dismiss the culture minister’s words, alarm bells began to ring louder in my already ringing ears when I went to a curriculum meeting at my children’s school, where the one sentence that came up again and again was, ‘Preparing to make them global citizens.’ Which is exactly what is required in a world that is now so closely connected, and I instantly recalled another alarming line from Mahesh Sharma’s interview where he stated that there have been discussions with the education ministry to prepare a new syllabus for schools and they have plans to cleanse every area of public discourse that has been westernized.
So I presume that another ban on education systems that don’t fit in within these parameters is imminent?
Which brings me finally to the meaty bone of contention about what we are allowed to cook in our supposed melting pot — the meat ban.
In the last few weeks, different states have put their machinery at work trying to enforce as well as extend the meat ban. When the high court was asked to chew on this matter, it thankfully tried to rule against it, and so a few organizations ran like headless chickens all the way to the Supreme Court stating that they had a beef with our meat and ended up with egg on their face when the ban was stayed.
The state had tried to advocate the ban by expounding the need to be tolerant of other faiths but the crucial question regarding who must show tolerance, who needs to be tolerated and who actually decides between the two, of course, still remains unanswered, and as is evident, people just seem to put up with only their kind.
And thus you have 2,000 men with axes, petrol and country-made pistols rioting at Atali Village in Ballabhgarh and attacking Muslims gathered to pray; a young Hindu man killed for marrying a Muslim girl in Bihar this year; a Muslim boy brutally beaten up by Hindu vigilantes for posing with his Hindu classmates; and a fatwa against A R Rahman for composing music for a film called Muhammad the Messenger of God. Not to forget the love jihads and other jihads, all trying to convert or eradicate the other.
Well, after giving all of the above some serious thought, I have decided that if I am reincarnated as a human being again instead of a holy cow or Baba Ramdev’s infamous Putrajeevak seed, then I just want to be born a Parsi; the most sorted bunch of people who have clearly worked it out that the world has gone to pot, and before anyone tries to eradicate them they have cleverly decided to go extinct themselves.