Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Four Types of India-Pakistan Web Comments

This is a Google ad which trumpets how awesome Google is. So awesome that it can even get past the greatest divider ever: Partition. It’s a rather heart-warming, lovely little ad and worth a watch if you have’t already seen it.

The basic concept of this ad—the bringing together of Indians and Pakistanis using the Internet—is actually true.

Freed from the ridiculousness of the nation-state and the tyrannies of incomprehensible scripts (someone had once said that the US and UK are two countries divided by the same language; it’s even more true for India and Pak) Indians and Pakis (it’s ok, we can use that term; we’re Brown too) in the past decade or so have been able to enjoy an unprecedented level of contact.

Where the ad gets it wrong though is that, usually, the contact isn’t this nice. Most India-Pak internet rendezvous, conducted under the benign anonymity of the internet, are rather ugly. There is gali-galauch and much ugliness when PORKI MUSLA DOGS meet SPINELESS HINDU COW WORSHIPPERS and do glorious battle.  Jinnah WHOTOREAPARTOURMOTHERLAND is bought in as is Gandhi THATEVILBANIYATWOFACEDDHOTIWALA. COWARDWHOLEFTHISRELIGION meets LOSERWHOCOULDN’TCOVERT. 1000YEARSOFGLORIOUSRULE! 1000 YEARS OF SLAVERY! WEAK VEGERTARIAN! BARBARIAN MEAT EATER!

Ah, what fun times. But no matter. You only get angry with people who you love. Or some such spaced-out shit. Plus who else can you abuse in Hindi/Urdu/Punjabi? What’s the point of having the same language/cultural tropes if you can’t nangofy the other person with it, eh?

In case you missed this, need a fresh dose or just feel like abusing the shit out of someone, this record’ll most prolly be playing at a YouTube comment box nearby. I have been a keen follower of the YouTube comment space for years now (one of my many varied intellectual interests) and while YouTube overall is a goldmine for Troll Watching, the Indo-Pak commentary on Bollywood/Coke Studio songs occupies a special space in my heart. After many years of pain staking research I have divided Indo-Pak commentators into 4 categories:

1. Out-and-Out Bigots: The easiest to spot, they go straight for the jugular. Prophets are summoned and insulted; god and goddesses targeted. These people are surprisingly well-informed about their opponents' religion, especially the embarrassing bits. A variety of sexual acts are also promised on the opponents female family members as a special bonus (this category is almost completely male).

Interesting at first, you quickly tire of them. Plus, it's really difficult to get past the all caps, the "you"s spelt with a 'u' and all those 'behenchods" spelt with only a "BC".

2. The Velvet Gloves: Much more subdued that the Out-and-Out Bigots but still not really open-minded. Usually don’t go in for direct religious slurs but play more on national stereotypes. Examples would include a small jibe at a recent terrorist attack or a little “ahem, cough cough, heard about that recent pogrom that took place. Hope all is well?”

These people could easily fool you into thinking that bear no malice but it’s always a joy when the realisation at last washes over you and you are in a position to appreciate the troll’s good work.

3. The Music Nerd: The confused-as-fuck guy who’s come to this page for the music. Frequently gets exasperated with all this religion and politics and would plead with the junta to “just forget all this Hindu-Muslim, this politics. It’s just a song, guys.” Heh. Bloody champoo.

4. The Candle-at-Wagah Wala: Eternal Kumbaya singer, this man is sad because we are One but just can’t get alone. Laments would include calls to our “common culture” and the “glorious 5,000 heritage of our common past.” “Come on guys, why do you have to fight, yaar? We are like brothers, no, Indian and Pakistani? Like brothers.”

Most Candle Wala comments come in unison since people gather up the courage to air their abnormal views only after seeing someone else do it first. Much like Karaoke singing, in fact.

“Completely like brothers, bhai,” another will chime in. “How does it a matter that we killed each other with nothing but our bare hands in the biggest killing spree ever just 60 years back? What matters is that we guessed it: brothers.”

Needless to say, this sort gets it royally from both sides for a bit and are then just ignored like the senile old fools that they are.