Tuesday, 23 October 2007

Of catcalls, monkey chants, Guy the Gorilla and Incredible India!

Well, finally the ill-tempered Ind-Aus ODI series is over. While the BCCI, Cricket Australia and ICC dwell on the degree of racism, I’ve been taken aback by the discrimination displayed by cricket players and administrators towards the animal kingdom at large!

Reams have been written about monkey chants and reporters/columnists foamed in the mouth explaining how racist it was. But did anyone bother to spare a thought for the hapless monkeys?

For starters, catcalls are not considered compliments, but why is it that monkey chants constitute racial abuse? I mean this is a serious prejudice that has in fact the entire monkey species up in arms, knocking the door of the Simian Primates Rights Organisation, demanding an answer.

Much to the monkeys’ dismay, cricketers walk in hoping to have a WHALE of a time out there, commentators’ hail HAWKeye, tailenders are called RABBITS and FERRETS, fielders are positioned in COW corner and the entire Bangladesh team boasts of being the TIGERS. Scratching furiously their heads, the monkeys simply don’t know why cricket has no problems with other animals but all hell breaks loose when it comes to monkeys!

In fact it has been a long-standing injustice that continues to upset the monkeys. Knighted Ian Botham does not object to his nickname Guy the GORRILLA; Arun Lal does not mind being called PIGGY; Ajit Agarkar remains the Mumbai DUCK: and then you have Joel “Big BIRD” Garner, Darren “RHINO” Gough, Anil “JUMBO” Kumble, Clive “Super CAT” Lloyd, Glenn “PIGEON” McGrath, Dave “TADPOLE” Mohammed, Graeme “Little DOG” Pollock, Peter “Big DOG” Pollock…well the list is endless.

And finally, I must share a doubt of mine. Did part of the Indian crowd really intend to insult Andrew Symonds when they hurled those monkey chants and aped the apes at Wankhede? My doubt is that the Australians simply went bananas in this case and before you bay for my headstrong head, let me explain.

Indian culture is a marriage of tradition and modernity and hence vulnerable to misinterpretation by ill-informed critics. Well, first get our basics right. Man’s evolution from monkey is something taught in schools and I believe therein lies the secret.

Well, those who know Hindi know that “Are, Yeh To Baap Nikla!” is a compliment of highest order by an awestruck speaker, which literally would mean “Gosh! He Proved Our Father” but would actually mean,”He proved who’s the boss.”

Andrew Symonds has been the batting mainstay for Australia in the series against India and when he came to bat in the last ODI at Wankhede, two gentlemen – bona fide ambassadors of Indian culture – aped monkeys to imply “Are Yeh To Baap Se Bhi Aage (which means forefathers= monkeys) Nikla”.

Now if that tribute is misconstrued as racial abuse, one can only hope that next time other teams visit India, they just get versed with the culture here to avoid any misunderstanding about Incredible India.

Image: Getty Images

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