Nomological Net

Stray thoughts from here and there. The occasional concern for construct validity. No more logic. Fish.


faults in the clouds of delusion

Sunday, April 02, 2006


this post started off as a response to a comment on my previous post, but then it started growing legs and a tail of its own so i decided to give it wing. it's about the so-called indian obsession with the raj. suitably tempered since this is a public forum, but rant alert anyway.

i hear it every once in a while, but i never get *what* the point is with people saying indians are obsessed with the raj. first question: does this statement mean that we love it to shreds, or are we supposed to hate it to shreds, or do we just give it too much importance, or do we over-pretend to ignore it and say it doesn't affect us when actually we're tearing up inside?

notice that that covers all bases. i.e., when the topic of the raj comes up, pretty much whatever we do can be attributed, by the above means, to an obsession with the raj. to me, that signals that the obsession is in the eyes of the attributor, not the attributee. it's as scientific an analysis as dr. freud's saying you did x because you loved your mother -- all behavior can be explained by that diagnosis, since your doing not-x was also due to your having loved your mother. whatever we ever say or do wrt our mother the raj is due to our obsession with her. it. of course.

frankly, the raj is very very low on the list of things that worries me right now. or even attracts my attention -- this post notwithstanding. i have a lot of things on my mind, and believe me, that period of history, with its trappings, has not had very much airtime recently. in fact, the concept of england as a whole hasn't bothered me very much of late. i can think of only two intersections between my paths and that of the ye olde -- one, the telephone operator (a *manual* operator!) at london business school where i've had to call a few times this semester, and two, the brits on the cricket fields in india. okay, so i've thought about the latter a bit. they've played very well indeed, but i don't see how the raj comes into it. i certainly don't see how the raj could have anything to do with the fact that i've been rooting for india during this series -- that would take us back to dr. freud and the conclusion that my rooting against *any* countryis due to the raj. well, put that way, we wouldn't have had an india without the raj. consider me suitably obsessed.

but turn the question on its head -- would that explain why england is the lowest on my cricket-cheering hierarchy? i have the cricket-playing teams in a sequence all worked out in my head, and generally cheer for a team that's ranked higher on my list when it plays one that is lower. i consider that logical, more importantly, it makes it more fun for me when i follow games between neutrals. and yes, england is always at the bottom, which means the poor sods never get my support (big flipping deal). now is *that* due to my obsession with the raj? or is it due to the fact that i cut my viewing teeth on the broad nothingness of chris tavare and geoffrey boycott's bats? followed by such eternal sunshines as graham gooch, graeme hick, and mike atherton (yes, he of the shocking, "aleem dar, the so-called neutral" comment). i admit gower was good and botham was interesting, but from then to flintoff has there been a larger collection of bad, boring, and pretentious non-characters in a team? or is that my raj obsession speaking?

would that explain my aversion to the english weather? wet, wet, wet, and pissing rain. avacoopuvtea, luv, the place is one of the most morbid places to live and that has nothing to do with history.

would that explain my liking for monty python and rowan atkinson? ooh, they enslaved us and now look how silly they act. ribbit ribbit. or yes minister or the office? or the beatles or the stones or van morrison? how about goodness gracious me? i knew that.

it's a broad brush indeed, that paints me in with the raj lovers. i don't deny that there may be a bunch of people who are actually obsessed with it. are these the same indians who are obsessed with the england of today? and how are these indians different from the indians who are obsessed with america, or canada, or the middle east or new zealand or any other place where the world is phoren like in the movies they subsist on? how many of them even make the connection between the glitzy world of the whiteskin, and the long-ago indignities that supposedly morphed all their forefathers into coconuts?

someone i know visited london for the first time a while back and went to see the tower jewels. on the way out, he saw the voluntary donation thing, and he stopped and exclaimed loudly -- "they stole all of that from my country, and now they want me to donate to see it!" obsession?

or touche?


Blogger scout said...

touche! touche!

4/02/2006 2:21 PM  
Blogger Salil said...

Nice post. I don't understand why so many people jump on what they perceive to be others' Anglophilia. Yes, I like Fawlty Towers, Blackadder and Monty Python as opposed to Hindi soaps or the trash on American television. Yes, I follow cricket and a bit of rugby, rather than kabaddi or baseball. If I'm cursing, I'm more likely to use phrases like "shite" or "bollocks". It's a combination of influencing factors when growing up; locations of Commonwealth nations that were once under British rule and a decision to study in an English educational system for a good portion of my life. That doesn't mean I'm obsessed with the Raj or the Empire.

Or maybe is it them; those who consider anyone who'll speak/write in the Queen's English and such to be Anglophiles? What about their Anglophobia in that case?

4/02/2006 2:33 PM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

yeah! :-)

hey, what about *my* anglophobia? (phobia? that can't be right.)

4/02/2006 8:25 PM  
Blogger MockTurtle said...

Tabula- strong opinions for a blank slate, no? :)
I agree that having a refined taste in entertainment doesn't make you an anglophile. Wodehouse, Monty Python and Yes Minister are all way up in my rankings, but I have never called a friend "old chap" or collected pre-independence stamps.
That being said, what exactly is an anglophile and is it so bad? I do actually enjoy some aspects of leftover Brit culture that remain in India. My old high school was full of Anglo Indian teachers who were jovial and entertaining and who still play cricket matches with us 'old boys' once a year, with a bottle of cold beer stowed behind the stumps. I've spent a lot of childhood evenings in the men's bar of my father's club with old coffee planters and retired army officers with their silk scarves and pipes who ask the bearer to hurry up with their whiskey and soda. That's all Brit influenced, but certainly not affected or pretentious.
We were ruled by the Brits for more than a century, it's obvious that they had a lasting impact, just as the Mughals did. I don't think that's a bad thing. We have the Taj Mahal and we have cricket and I think we're the richer for it.

4/02/2006 11:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey. Peace. That wasn't meant to have been a political/psychological comment. Just the observation that in England apparently PGW is no longer as popular as it used to be. Maybe it is, and this woman just wasn't one of them? Desis who love PGW and Fawlty Towers etc. are a minority of English-speaking desis too, right? (Actually believe it or not I've met seemingly sane desis who claim to hate PGW too...)

Yes, Baker Street is just Baker Street to a Londoner (add to that the fact that Sherlock Holmes was fictional) but the Taj Mahal evokes something in our minds and we're proud of the Red Fort, even though perhaps the first thing that comes to mind is the ugly smelly pollution & traffic around there!

Maybe what happened is that in England PGW's work got overshadowed by the spy thing and so he got discounted in the popular imagination? In India we don't really hear about the spy thing unless we dig a bit deeper beyond the books? I don't know the answer. But I certainly didn't mean "hungover" in any negative sense. Hell, I actually like drinking.

4/03/2006 1:22 AM  
Blogger Old Spice said...

Some of us are obsessed with New Zealand because we live here, and stare down the barrel of maybe one day marrying someone who can't speak properly as a result. The English just enunciate their vowels better, and that's the object of my obsession.

Plus I still foster dreams of waking up one morning and turning into Hugh Grant. But that isn't really about the Raj, is it?

4/03/2006 5:15 AM  
Blogger Tabula Rasa said...

surely you jest, but slowly! hey, whoever said a blank slate was only for writing? :-)

your point about what is an anglophile and why is it so bad is well taken. my rant wasn't about anglophilia as such, but about the raj. that said, what *is* and anglophile, is is anglophilicity a good thing or not? frankly, i don't have the answer to either question. if an anglophile is someone who loves england, i'm not one. if it's someone who loves all things english, no again. if it's someone who loves *some* things english, then hey why not? exactly as you point out. but surely that last definition is a little loose (does a paedophile "love" all children?) for that matter, am i an indophile? i struggle to answer, but to be brutally honest i'd probably lean towards no. that's probably not informative either -- broad brushes should be kept for painting houses.

ah there you are again. you're probably the first person i've heard say positive things about a hangover. dr. freud prescribes a buck-u-uppo.

ps. pgw /= "it"! please.

graduate, my friend:
freak not, i envy you your vowels. "rahrj", was it? but i worry about your turning into hugh grant in the morning -- methinks the blighter's the kind who'd up and leave while you were still sleeping. (no offense meant :-)

cheese, mite.

4/03/2006 11:25 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home