One open letter took Delhi by storm on Wednesday. It was an ‘Open letter to a Delhi boy’ from a ‘part south Indian, part Maharashtrian girl’, which trended on Twitter all day, was shared on Facebook by many and got close to 1,600 comments.
In the piece, being lambasted by many for being ‘racist’, the writer, Shahana Nair Joshi, says that she came to the Capital two years ago and was sad to see that the average Delhi boy lived up to his “reputation of being an ignorant, chauvinistic oaf with the intelligence levels of an autistic 3-year-old”.
The letter, which she posted on her blog Broken Morning, further talks about the bad English spoken by the ordinary Delhi boy, his fixation with SUVs, and how “his mother cows down to the whims of her husband...”. She goes on, “I understand that I come from the land of ugly. I mean obviously Hema Malini, Sri Devi and Aishwarya Rai with their natural banal looks don’t even hold a candle to Priyanka Chopra after her two nose jobs and one lip reconstruction surgery.” In the end, she signs off as, ‘Yours, Madrasan’.
Her harsh criticism has invited the wrath of many for stereotyping communities. Three bloggers — ‘The Disgruntled mob (A Delhi boy)’, ‘Adarsh S’ and ‘Madmomma Online a (part Madrasan)’ have written open letters in response, slamming her post (see box on right). People spat venom on her blog as well. KOOPmAnDOOK wrote, “I think her tirade mostly re-hashed pre-existing stereotypes ... probably exacerbated by personal rejections.”
However, some, especially those who’ve faced a similar predicament, are in her favour. “It indeed holds so true for the Punjabi boys. I am working in Jalandhar and I come across such sham everyday ... From their ostentatious kothis to parking a Ford in front of their houses,” wrote Meghna Sah on Shahana’s blog.
Psychiatrist Jitender Nagpal says, “It is the general feeling that we are moving towards an egalitarian society. Instead of condemning her, people should ask her to facilitate mature thinking.” Psychiatrist Deepak Raheja suggests, “Just take it in good humour.”
An excerpt from the open letter
Dear Delhi Boy ... Your reputation has travelled far and wide, to countries outside South India as well. I understand that your stone faded, ripped jeans, your V-neck cleavage showing T-shirts that reveal to the world that you have in fact inherited your mother’s voluptuous shaved Punjabi bosom, are what you think maketh a man, but it does not. It only maketh for a man who gets a pity license to share his girlfriend’s bra ... my living in Delhi is as safe as Hugh Hefner’s playmate of the year living in Jeddah. And your English. Good Lord, what in the world is up with that? I don’t want you to ‘explain me’ anything. It’s like you need to go to primary school again.
Open letters in response
From a Delhi boy
Yes, I will grant you that Delhi per se doesn’t seem to have a stellar track record of safety as far as women are concerned… But ... blaming “mindsets” might be the right way to go only in so far as you don’t start blaming entire geographical areas ... Yes, my English sucks. I can barely read or write. I forward a lot of text messages where “the” is abbreviated to “dat”. Hell, most of my tweets are stolen Rajnikanth jokes... does this make me truly horrible as a person?” Why would you paint me and my neighbours in the same brush?
From a ‘part Madrasan’
You say you come from the land of the ugly? Speak for yourself! And really girl, did you have to bring up Hema Malini and Sridevi of all women? Them of the adultery, the second marriages, the conversions, the plastic surgery and botox fame? Funny how all three of them picked Punjabi and UP men when the time came, huh? Good for them. It just leaves the ‘Madrasi’ men free for us.
From an IIM grad
She has made a lot of poignant points like Punjabis’ obsession towards Punjabi music. As a proud Punjabi, I do love Gurdas Mann but as an Indian, I respect each and every south Indian artist who is doing a good job. Just because I don’t get the languages doesn’t give me a right to disapprove of them. If some people do, that is because they are jerks or just because they are talking in good humour ... Is it a crime to like good things in life??
I think she (Shahana) is absolutely right as far as obnoxious Punjabi boys are concerned; I’ve come across many of these and that is exactly how they behave
Saanya Khanna, 23
Delhi welcomes people from the world over with open arms. It is the cultural hub ... at Dilli Haat, we enjoy dosa at the Kerala kiosk more than rajma chawaal at the Punjab stall
Gaurav Mohindru, 25
If she has not been able to adjust in Delhi, then it’s her problem. I have female friends from from the southern part of the country; none of them think like her
Vipin Handa, 18
Its saddening to see so much negativity and hatred. We are Indians, undivided by race, caste, creed, colour, sex or language. It’s a very stupid generalisation
Richa Bagla, 25