Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Grey Lady messes it up again

The New York Times is very proud of its ignorance of all things Indian. To make sure that we get the point, it routinely publishes bizarrely out-of-touch, patronizing, exoticized peices on India every once in a while. Thankfully, the notorious Barbara Crossette and John Burns are no longer around to regale us with their idiocy. Now, the 'South Asian' beat is manned by a certain Somini Sengupta, who brings us her take on the Twenty20 final, and what it says about the 'new India' (are you sick and tired of this sort of analysis, as I am?) As might be anticipated, there are plenty of gems. For instance, we are told how the Indian team's players
spoke Hinglish, a mongrel of Hindi and English that has become the lingua franca of the young small-town Indian.
Actually, they don't. They speak English like someone might speak a language that is not their first i.e., with some missteps having to do with verb forms, tenses and plural/singular confusion. But its not Hinglish. I spoke Hinglish when I went to Delhi University; it was a slang form; its like Spanglish in the US, where young Hispanics who can speak Spanish or English perfectly well, chose to speak in this hybrid form as a kind of marker. Lots of us 'urban, big-city' kids spoke Hinglish, and lots still do. In fact, television announcers and VJs on several Indian channels also speak Hinglish. Indeed, to read this article, one would imagine that all of India's cricketers before this lot were Oxford-educated, pipe-smoking, polo-playing, pucca types, that strutted around in jodhpurs and sola topees.

Then, we are treated to this astonishing mixture of pop-psychology and dubious history:
Athleticism has never been associated with Indian cricket, nor with Indians in general, and that has been a chip on the shoulder of Indian manhood.
I had no idea; that must be why my shoulder is sagging, from all those chips on my shoulder. And of course, there is the usual classic NYT cluelessness:
Much was made of the fact that the captain, Mr. Dhoni, grew up in an uncelebrated eastern city called Ranchi. The batsman S. Sreesanth, it was said, defied cricket manners by being unusually aggressive.
Note, not "the uncelebrated eastern city of Ranchi". And Sreesanth is now a batsman (must be that six off Nel that done it). And finally, we close with
Minutes later, apparently in a moment of abandon, Mr. Dhoni took off his jersey, gave it to a young fan and marched topless before the crowd.
Notice the quaintness of the phrasing; furthermore, Dhoni didn't "march" before the crowd; he strolled to the dugout and put on a replacement shirt. Whatever.


Blogger John said...

Ya, they'd posted it on Cricinfo, and I could not believe the NYT was so clueless, bordering on the patronizing.

1:50 AM  
Blogger Jrod said...

American's don't know something about another culture. That doesn't sound right. Maybe i should just shut up and put another shrimp on the barbie and wrestle a croc. Mate. G'day.

10:35 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

John: the NYT almost aspires to this cluelessness, as if it couldn't bear to get with it.

JRod: No worries, mate. Stone the crows and the chunder in the ol' Pacific. Now, I'm off to splash me boots and perhaps have a bit of a technicolor yawn. While wrestling a croc, of course. Strike a light, strewth!

10:56 AM  
Blogger The Atheist said...

Actually, Samir, I'd like to hear about the "new" India. I've not heard of it? Is it like "new" Mars bars - depressingly similar, but not quite as good as the original.

10:59 AM  
Blogger Samir Chopra said...

Atheist: Oh, the New India is worth checking out for sure. The analyses about it aren't :) Mmmm...Mars Bars..I had a deep-fried Mars Bar once on Bondi Beach and still remember it to this day (for all the wrong reasons). I've also had deep-fried Oreo Cookies, but I digress.

11:04 AM  
Blogger Golandaaz said...

Not sure what is wrong with the article. I quite liked it.

12:04 AM  

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