September 20, 2013

The plight of being Indian today

Are we answerable for the excesses of our cricket board? Hell, no

My fellow Indians,

I feel your pain. I see your suffering. I smell the oily gravy of self-loathing that simmers inside the cast-iron cauldron of your consciousness, sprinkled with the shredded coriander of frustration and the sautéed raisins and cashew nuts of disappointment, and within which float the chunks of moist paneer that are your sense of despondence.

Why in god's name must we innocent Indians be expected to explain the sinister dealings of the BCCI?

This yoke of disrepute is not new. Over the centuries we Indians have carried the burden of cultural stereotypes upon our wind-beaten shoulders. As we travel the world, often legally, foreigners ask us the most bizarre questions and make the most unbearable statements:

1. "Do you have an elephant at home in Kerala?"
2. "Are you deeply in touch with yourself spiritually?"
3. "Are you sure you want the barbecued ribs? Because it is not vegetarian."
4. "Oh my god, I love India. I loved Slumdog Millionaire. What a great country you have!"
5. "Is this actor who played the role of the tycoon in Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol very popular in India LOL?"

At which point I simply throw my hands up in the air, try not to sound overly offended, and respond with veiled rage:

1. "Not anymore, because after my grandfather died in 1976 he bequeathed our elephant, Sebastian, to my uncle, Dynamo Kiev, who now lives in Ajman."
2. "Right now? Just a little bit. But you should see me when I am left alone with an internet connection."
3. "Oh, I thought it was ribs of butternut squash! Do you have steamed vegetables and ketchup?"
4. "I love that movie too! What a coincidence! Many thanks for stamping my passport, officer! Have a nice day!"
5. "Ha ha ha. I have no idea who he is… maybe a Pakistani actor."

And now the BCCI has made things a million times worse.

Every time I attend a live cricket match, watch one in a bar, or merely bring up the topic of cricket in a public place, somebody will want to point out how the "BCCI is ruining cricket and what do you have to say about that as an Indian?"

I am sick and fed up of this nonsense. And I am sure you are too.

Do I ever prowl around the cities of the world, looking for a solitary defenceless New Zealander so I can pounce on him/her and demand how it is justified that while the New Zealand rugby team is allowed to do that frankly disturbing war dance routine (Kathak) inspired by the indigenous people of that country (Incas), members of the opposite team (France) are expected to listen quietly without any aggressive response (retreat) whatsoever?

No, I don't. Because if I did that, the said Kiwi would rightly respond with: "Stop screaming at me, dude. I don't even like rugby and even if I did… how is the Kathak my problem?" To which you will respond: "Yeah fine okay, but your Masterchef sucks, one flat white, takeaway," and walk out because you want to have the last word.

Please, foreign people, try to stop watching Breaking Bad for one second and try to understand. It is just unfair to point fingers at random citizens of any country and demand explanations from them for the misdeeds of a national sporting organisation.

Besides, the BCCI isn't even really a national sporting organisation.

It is a completely independent, privately run body that has absolutely no connection with the state except for occasional state inputs in the form of police, security forces, chief guests for purposes of inauguration, billions in central funding for cricketing stadia and infrastructure. And, of course, the millions upon millions in tax revenue each year that the BCCI dutifully deposits in privately held bank accounts in Monte Carlo.

Upset about the South African tour? Miffed about the DRS? Incensed about the T20 domination of world cricket? Flabbergasted by how the ICC kowtows to the BCCI's every whim and fancy?

My friends, we Indians feel your pain. We are also cognisant of how the BCCI is the bully of world cricket. But there is so little we can do about this right now. Sure, it is conceivable that a sizeable public uproar can force the hand of the government of India to rein in the BCCI and make it function in a more transparent way.

But right now India are winning in many different forms of the game and making fabulous amounts of money, so we think it is best to rock the boat later, when we start losing again.

Also, stop being so jealous.

Sidin Vadukut is a columnist and editor with Mint, and the author of the Dork trilogy