[MJR] Gouri Dange: Why this silence over the noise?

29 Feb,2012

By Gouri Dange


Since the feeding frenzy over the Saif tidbit that fell into the media shark tank is over, one is loathe to bring it up again and create more sites where the moronic incident will pop up on search engines. But there’s one thing that no one asked or discussed anywhere in any medium, earth, fire, water, or air – meaning print, Hindi news channels, English news channels and on the internet: Is it not at all legitimate and reasonable for a person to ask for quiet and decorum in a public space?


As backward and foolish and boorish as the punching out of a diner in the Taj by Saif, is the attitude that he (and crores of his fellow Indians) display when he airily said to the man who asked him and his women and men pals repeatedly to keep it down: ‘If you want silence, go to a library’. (Fortunately he thought of ‘library’ and not ‘graveyard’).


Ha! Is that the only place where one can expect and demand some quiet in this sub-continent, is what SOMEONE should have asked this Nawabling, when the story was being followed so closely. But, typically, all we had by way of coverage is ‘who started it’ and ‘what did the Taj have to say’ and ‘was there CCTV footage or not’, and ‘was Saif’s phone on or off’ and other such nitty-gritty matters delivered to us with such round-the-clock efficiency by every media that there is. But about the fact that he was making enough noise for fellow diners (who are not all gosh-golly about Bollywood) to find him and everyone at his table galling and bad for the digestion, no one said a thing. At least someone could have asked him that prim but significant question that our teachers asked us often: “Is this what your mummy-daddy taught you to do?”


However, it looks like the media too (who thrive on noise of their own kind) has accepted that every Indian famous and otherwise, has an inalienable, constitutional right to make as much noise whenever and wherever he/she pleases. No one asked the Princelet whether he felt free to talk, shout, laugh and horse around in any country outside the sub-continent. I’m trying to think of him and his gang in some toney restaurant in the western world behaving this way in the first place (forget punching out a fellow-patron) and I can’t see it happening. On top of it, the media reports that 48 hours later, when he had come down off his uncha-ghoda, he admitted that he had done something wrong (as opposed to the previous day’s “mummy-tell-him-no…he-beat-me-first” stance) he said something about “We (the royal We) should set a good example as we are constantly watched…etc”. My point is, you should behave well not because you are watched but because your mummy-daddy spent good money getting you an education and some polish. And because other people have a right to be in a pleasant dining situation (outside of a library).


It was only some voices of Facebook et al that were all a-twitter with the right questions on this ‘silence is only in libraries’ school of Indian philosophy.  And about how the same minor-Mughals behave impeccably in public places outside of this great land, where silence and not shoving people is kind of expected of everyone.


One last point that any responsible media person must kindly caution these Beautiful People (various Khans, Aroras, and suchlike) about after such a fracas, is this: don’t get into physical brawls, because you never know, those hair weaves, that botox, the silicon, and the stitches, can all come undone right there in public, and then what a mess there will be to clean up. (And can the media possibly NOT quote a bunch of puranay-paapi ‘vouching’ for each other’s decency and honesty? I mean come on, do we really want to hear about solidarity for Saif coming from sundry blackbuck shooters and hit-and-run-drivers with infamous anger-management issues of their own?)


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