Cultures across continents never cease to amaze me. What is perfectly acceptable in one country may quite be abhorrent in another. What is fun in one country may be sacrilege in another ! Recent events prove my point.
You know the huge controversy that erupted when it was alleged that Harbhajan Singh called Andrew Symonds a “monkey”. Close in its wake, almost in retaliation,”Symonds baney Hanuman” was published in the Courier Mail.
I thought it to be in very poor taste and extremely provocative. Hanuman is revered as a God in India. It is almost like asking a newspaper in India to morph Harbhajan as one of the Saints or Jesus Christ himself (which shouldn’t be too difficult as he already has a beard).
In the same week, the now retired great Aussie fast bowler Glenn McGrath expressed surprise when India’s captain Anil Kumble was upset at the end of the infamous Sydney Test. Kumble had every right to be upset after all that he and his team had been through. It is alleged that Kumble, the perfect gentleman cricketer was called a “B*****d” by Brad Hogg.
This is mild stuff for McGrath because in his time he was supposed to have asked Shivnaraine Chanderpaul, the West Indian batsman, about a sensitive part of Brian Lara’s anatomy and was supposedly told in return to check with his own wife. He was extremely offended because sadly his wife had breast cancer. But he asked for it, didn’t he?
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs has a hot potato being tossed up to it soon. No, no pun intended. His Excellency Nicholas Sarkozy, President of France arrives as the Chief Guest for the most prestigious ceremony in the Indian year, Republic Day. In some countries having his girl friend/possible fiancee, supermodel Carla Bruni accompany him formally would perhaps be considered perfectly acceptable. In more traditional India, it is bound to raise many eyebrows, apart from creating issues of diplomatic protocol.
Admittedly cultures are different but shouldn’t we be sensitive to such differences?
Having one set of rules for us and another for others reminds me of a popular phrase during my younger days : “Sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander”.