Kissing isn’t part of our culture? Pissing is?

SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes: ‘Attack on India’s cultural ethos’, screamed a headline in The Hindu today.

It pertained to the incident of Hollywood actor Richard Gere kissing Shilpa Shetty during an AIDS awareness programme on Sunday.

Now, the good dictionary of English words tells us that the word ‘ethos’ means “characteristic spirit, moral values, ideas or beliefs of a group, community or culture”. But in a country, where ‘culture’ and ‘heritage’ are two words that are used in the most loose and shamefully irresponsible sense, dictionaries are of no consequence.

Every thing and anything that can purportedly raise the hackles of a section of society which are represented by self-styled, self-serving, debauched and basically criminal minded rabble rousers and nuisance mongers who neither have any sense of decent direction in life nor a modicum of conscience, is an affront to Indian ‘culture’!

An aging neo-Buddhist of a man like Richard Gere kisses a two-bit, also-ran of a woman like Shilpa Shetty to make some point concerning AIDS and it suddenly becomes a national shame and a disaster of unprecedented dimensions to certain ‘activists’.

What sense of moral probity. What respect for woman’s dignity. What concern and care for the nation’s definition of decency. What an expression of the most heart-felt desire to uphold ‘Indianness’!

Shame be on these despicable and disgusting pimps of ‘culture’ who in reality are nothing but a bunch of unemployable derelicts who know nothing but to make an issue out of nothing. The self-invented dalaals of disgusting dichotomy that scrounge around like dirty mongrels around the dustbins of society.

Over 50 Shiv Sena ‘activists’ converged at the Vashi railway station in Navi Mumbai where the film Metro was being shot and burnt an effigy of Shilpa Shetty and shouted slogans against her. They termed the kiss as indecent behaviour. Variations of the same were done in Varanasi, Bhopal, Kanpur, Indore and Mumbai.

The BJP disapproved of Gere’s act asserting it was not part of Indian culture. “Such a public display is not part of Indian tradition,” said party spokesperson Prakash Javdekar.

If fleetingly kissing a woman in public and with the avowedly socially conscious intention of driving home an obvious message against a scourge like AIDS is such an unpardonable affront to Indian ‘culture’, then what is the lurid act of urinating in the full glare of the public, even on busy roads, that most Indian men do, which results in the rather pathetic scene of the women in the vicinity lowering their heads and hurrying past the cheap spectacle with the man standing with his legs spread at a convenient angle?

So this is part of the great Indian culture we shout from the roof tops about, is it? Or is it enshrined somewhere in the inside pages of our voluminous scriptures?

What of the sexual harassment that goes on in crowded buses and trains where perverts thrust their pelvises into the backsides of hapless women clinging desperately on to every available piece of support inside on their way to a hard day’s work? This doesn’t activate the ‘activists’?

Nor do doctors who demand their pound of flesh by way of cold cash even before looking at the dead body of a loved one on which law perchance necessitates a post mortem. Or scores of government officials who squeeze you to the brink of madness when it comes to demanding mamool.

Or those men, surely not born of human wombs, who go to the extent of dousing kerosene on a helpless woman before striking a match stick to be thrown in her direction just because she did not remind her father to present a Hero Honda motorcycle to her husband at the time of marriage? Or village teachers who play rummy during school hours and policemen who are a law unto themselves?

Richard Gere kisses Shilpa Shetty and India is outraged. How much more morally bogus and dubious and counterfeit can we get.

That reminds me of the tag line of India: 5,000 years of history and culture. Or is it culture and history?

If god hadn’t been cruel to me, I would have had hair on my head to tear. Alas!

Photographs courtesy: The Daily Mail, London

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45 Responses to “Kissing isn’t part of our culture? Pissing is?”

  1. sathellite Says:

    Wonderful article SR!!!
    I guess, the media is to be equally blamed.
    Save for a few (times now,ndtv), the rest were splashing this “Breaking News” all over!!!
    Ibn7 was playing that kiss scene in loop for almost an hour !!!
    I think if at all IB ministry wants to police the TV channels, it should be targetting channels like IBN7 instead of AXN and others !!!!
    Well, I would be glad if the hindu rashtra sena (or whatever name it carries) hammers down this particular channel as well !!! For that matter, any reason would do :)

  2. indianewsbox.com Blog » Kissing isn’t part of our culture? Pissing is? Says:

    [...] http://churumuri.wordpress.com/2007/04/17/kissing-isnt-part-of-our-culture-pissing-is [...]

  3. Anonymous Says:

    There are two incidents.

    1) National Anthem is not sung in Infosys. Narayana Murthy defends it – It is embarassing to sing National Anthem when foreigners are with us.

    2) A white man kisses Shilpa Shetty in a public function. Shilpa Shetty defends it – We should not expect foreigners to behave like Indians.

    Without getting into arguments and explanations, plain common sense says that both incidents are in poor taste and could have been avoided. I would condemn both incidents. Both Murthy and Shilpa displayed a servile attitude to white men.

    Western culture has two inherent vices
    1) corporate greed (as opposed to Indian virtue of selfless living) – Murthy stands for it.
    2) loose morals (as opposed to Indian virtue of chastity) – Shilpa stands for it.

    For Sangh Parivar supporters, 1 is fine, but 2 is bad.

    For you, 1 is bad, but 2 is fine.

    That’s just funny!

    For those who condone Murthy – there are so many bad politicians and bad others, why make this a big issue? Look at corruption!

    For those who condone Shilpa – there are so many bad things in Indian culture, why don’t you tackle that first? Look at dowry!

  4. Aditya Says:

    Well written, Sunaad. These self-appointed guardians of Indian culture and ethos are no better than the Taliban.

  5. Great Mysorean Says:

    Sunaad Saheb, to assume “India is outraged” is an exaggeration.

    The protest was conducted by a small group of Shiv Sainiks in Navi Mumbai, and it’s clear they did it only to make news. You are questioning an “outrage” that doesn’t exist.

    The Indian people are more mature than you seem to be.

  6. Dheerendragopal Says:

    Well I heard the entire narration of the above story . The east and the west culture represents a whole extreme ends of the society when it comes to public display .

    Recently on our trip to a disney park , I was shocked to see Kids as young as 13 to 14 ‘making’ in a rest room .This is a place where kids of all ages visit . The boys pants were half way down and it was in ‘FULL PUBLIC GLARE’ . The other people were just walking by casually with some ladies chuckling or nodding their heads in disapproval .

    Maybe in India the elders would have either chased them away with a stick or somebody would have shouted names .

    on the contrary has anyone seen movie ‘Mathrubhoomi’??

  7. Dheerendragopal Says:

    Well I am not able to post in this section

  8. Kishor Says:

    Why everyone is after poor Shilpa? Why not Ash, or for that matter Hrithik in Dhoom 2…that smooch will beat Shilpa-Gere ‘petty kiss’ any day!

    Is Shiv Sena ready to take on Chopras over Dhoom 2? Well, they dare not…

  9. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Too many people in India. Whatever happens a few lakhs will feel good and another few lakhs will go mad. Everyone only tolerates things like corruption, inefficiency, making babies not knowing how to feed them, harmful politicians/bureaucrats/systems etc. It is a never ending cycle. Until food/fuel runs out or something of that nature happens.

  10. Thyampanna Shettru Says:

    Too many idiots, maarayre! Of all the problems we see everyday, these shiv sainiks care only about ‘kissing in public’? It has become a trend these days to bash celebrities and popular figures to get 15-mins of fame on national TV…

  11. Anonymous Guy Says:

    Shettre too many people andhare too many idiots antha allave? Undena tulutu yencha panpuna?

  12. Himanshu Says:

    Ms. Shetty said, “I understand this [kissing] is his culture, not ours. But this was not such a big thing or so obscene for people to overreact in such a manner. I understand people’s sentiments, but I don’t want a foreigner to take back bad memories from here.”

    “We had arranged for five people to sing the anthem. But then we cancelled it as we have foreigners onboard here. They should not be embarrassed while we sing the anthem,” said Infosys chief mentor Narayana Murthy.

    Honestly is there something we can call Indian Culture, Ethics are whatever?

    Except bending over to Foreigners ?

  13. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Kissing is part of Indian culture as well as pissing and getting pissed:)

    It would be nice to ask NRN’s response on this one. I think he will be embarrassed with this kissing scene–then again he may justify it on Infosys campus saying, “This is a mentoring opportunity for self-driven males looking forward to leverage their expertise onto local domains which may not have received the same benefits during their formative years thanks to years of Socialist dogma and the pernicious effects of an oppressive reservation system.”

    Then secretly he will instruct the security never to let any Bollywood types on his campus! :)

  14. Baadhukuu Says:

    I guess it depends on what kind of a person agrees to kissing in open. We need to ask the indian housewife, who has such a responsible role to play and she will definite not allow any man kissing her in the open.. even for her husband too.

    But it was shilpa shetty yaar, she will get kissed anywhere, was this the first time anybody kissed her in open.. we all know Ravichandran film where she played the heroine and several other films where she got kissed or did all those things.

    So there is a difference between a Indian Woman and Shilpa Shetty and I would strongly disagree if anybody claims she too is an Indian Woman..

    Who knows this might be a cheap act to get another publicity and maybe tomorrow Gere will come proposing to her and marry her.. These Filmy guys are so predictable .. they do anything for money…

  15. Arun Says:

    He looked so natural…he is a master at this art. But towards the end, he looked like a bull in full heat. The repeated telecast of this by the worthless channels made things worse. As they say..hoosidhakku kemmidhaku one SMS poll, a panel discussion, haalu moolu…and in the end the great host/hostess conclude what is good for Indian culture. These channels certainly did more than required.

    Gere, it is reported was too involved and committed to the cause and was the first person to have turned up at the venue and started interacting with the truckers who had gathered there.

    Surely, Gere would have learnt one lesson after this….gandhe cheez ke moo nahi lagthey.

  16. Ananth Shenoy Says:

    Richard had to really work out to bend Shilpa’s back. On his part to really spread the message and create awareness, he should have instead smooched an HIV positive Lorry Driver or made love to a positive prostitute on the stage with condoms on!

  17. INDIAN NATIONAL Says:

    All the neo-liberals and “sophisticate types” who are bending over backwards to dismiss the Gere-Shilpa Shetty Kiss as a non-issue [and yet write reams of material on it], have missed the point.

    It is not so much of the kiss guys, but that man’s obnoxious and absolutely unprofessional conduct in public towards a member of the opposite sex. Public decency and decorum behoved that Gere behaved in a civilized manner.But he almost mounted on Shilpa Shetty who was taken aback and had to grin and bear the insult thrust on her face [yes, that is what it was, it was not a kiss but an insult to her dignity]]

    So the issue is not about the assault on Indian cultural ethos and all that bullshit but public conduct of a very public man at a public function and an assault on the dignity of a woman, notwithstanding the fact that Shipla enjoyed it very very much.

    Liberals should have admonished Gere for it and not allowed the Shiva Senas to hijack the issue with their line of argument. But then you will be seen as backing Shiva Sena and their goons and hence the real issue is scuttled.

    So exonerate Gere and wring your hand in disgust at pissing and spitting in public, rural poverty and what not and scream that there are other important issues !!!

    Come to think of it, a columnist here wrote about the lack of something in the genes that make us cringe before foreigners in response to NRN and the jana gana mana controversy in an article reeking of nationalism.

    But the same guy has churned out a contrived and a convoluted piece on the Kiss controversy and has missed the real issue: Of professional misconduct.

    This is another instance of how we Indians as a whole lack the balls to call a spade a shovel and try to make amends for others by shifting focus, and grin and bear the insult thrust on us. So why blame Narayana Murthy alone for his views on foreigners ? In what way are those supporting Gere different from NRN ?

  18. E.R. Ramachandran Says:

    There are more aspects to just kissing here.. Shilpa is a new celebrity. After some 500000 L from her U.K stint, advertsing contract, a u.k citizenship, residence and a party with the Queen, she’s the new socialite’ queen’ in India. 6 months back, nobody would have bothered what she did, Gere certainly woudn’t have even tried to come near her..Now Shilpa herself woudn’t let any top Indian star to kiss her, would never allow, say, Denzel Washington,an oscar winner , but a coloured actor, to come anywhere near her( That’s reverse racism working here).This kiss will raise her market in U.K.by several thousands L more and open her ‘market’ for her in U.S. which her agents would be too glad to follow up and seal it for her.More kisses will follow…

  19. Ananth Shenoy Says:

    And see who else is speaking: Taslima Nasreen! She says if Shilpa liked it, nothing wrong. First of all, Mullahs are after her head. Now in extended asylum, how can she ever talk on such issues. Liberals, my foot!

  20. poorapara Says:

    intreseting Observations

  21. rustyvagabond Says:

    We should scream that there are other issues, because it is a fact! There ARE other issues. And the Gere-Shetty aerobics is such a non issue.

    Professional misconduct? How does that figure in here? What is the professional conduct? What is public conduct? To sermonise on stage and talk like a politician? To be grave and serious and put the truckers to sleep?

    And how was what Gere did ‘uncivilised’? What is civilised exactly? What crime did Gere comit that the ‘liberals’ have ‘exonerated’ him?

    If anything, Mr Gere’s kiss on the cheek is Ms Shetty’s problem. Not the entire country’s prerogative to take it to the level of a national ‘insult’. And if Ms Shetty felt insulted, it was up to her to express it. Why should all the self appointed guardians of the dignity of womanhood (who, if you notice are almost always men!) thrust their butt into it?

    No Shiv Sainiks were complaining when they were jerking off to Shilpa Shetty wearing bare minimum at the movies. And neither did anyone else while making Bollywood one of the richest industries in the world, in which the insult to the dignity of Indian womanhood is in such distrubing proportions.

    So whyever should there be an outcry in such ‘educated’ quarters over such an insignificant incident? Time for Indian national-s to examine why we don’t have a culture of protesting when it actually matters. Why don’t we actually wax eloquent about our dignity, culture, conduct when a raped woman becomes a mere statistic, when we turn the other way at streets being used as urinals, when life is getting more and more difficult for certain people in our country. Why don’t we spend our energy there, not even a fraction of what we spend on such silly, TV-generated, ‘news’?

    Why do we conveniently feel ‘insulted’?

  22. sudhir Says:

    It’s a good demo for an AIDS awareness programme. You see he’s kissing her on the cheek and not in the mouth.

  23. Dheerendragopal Says:

    C’mon people move over . Maybe Gere slept with Shilpa later that day( who knows) . why such a hue and cry over a kiss .

    kottavanu kodangi yiskondavLu namooru ‘BASAVI’ .

    avaLige ‘OK'(kissu) ..nimgella aa chinthae yaake .

  24. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Dear All,

    Well said DG

    It was only a case of public display of emotions! Gere was having fun (?) and so was Shilpa.

    Let us not go ballistic with all the various pop psychology stuff in analyzing this scene.

    Rustyvagabond, easy Tiger!

    Caps IndianNational, hold on to your dhoti

    The rest please be humorous

  25. Gokulam 3rd Stage Says:

    Every guy who wished he was in Richard Gere’s place please raise your hands…….

    Note: No copping out with the argument that Shilpa Shetty isn’t attractive enough for you :)

  26. Doddi Buddi Says:

    My hands are up!

    I hope SK Smitaji won’t mind…

  27. tarlesubba Says:

    Dear author,
    I take objection to your irreverent passes at pissing.
    Even when done in public space it is done discreetly. Being the most natural of fluids it has zero environmental or social effects spare hastening the collapse of a poorly constructed goDe.

    In contrast to your disgust, holding it back has serious health concerns such as bladder stones. Unless the sarakaara provides easy access to public toilets, pissing on public walls is as good a health intervention and about as important as HIV related intervention.

    Infact, to drive this point in, I am willing to piss on the nearest public wall just like Gere tried to convey that kissing does not transmit HIV.

  28. Smita Says:

    Uh Oh! and there I was wishing I was in Shilpa Shetty’s place! :( am rethinking seriously now.

    and DBji – :) would you mind if i minded?? come on…!!

  29. Rastrakoota Says:

    Tarle subba navare….xcellent!!! Gr8 sense of Humour. But well, les change “Unless the sarakaara provides easy access to public toilets” and make that clean and safe public toilets sir….else the Nature is the best toilet as is WALLS!!!!!

  30. desi homosapien Says:

    Shilpa was indeed arousing in that saree she was wearing. No wonder, Gere, even at 58, could not resist the temptation of having her. Surely, he wanted to kiss her on her lips, but controlled himself and satisfied himself with kissing her on the cheek though the video showed him moving tantalisingly close to her lips. It was a slip between the cup and lip (Shilpa’s).

  31. Doddi Buddi Says:

    Smitaji,

    As long as you are not wearing a SK, your dreams may come true one day!

    More like DB is the very soul of discretion:)

  32. Raman Says:

    SR,

    The only person who deserves to be outraged or not by Richard Gere’s act is Shilpa Shetty. If she does not mind, then the rest of us have no business (as long as it is within the law) to be outraged or to be okay with it. As far as I know, public display of affection (such as kissing or smooching) does not break any Indian law.

    So let us leave their act as just that.. a public joke/point made by Richard Gere.. maybe not in good taste in India.. but well within their rights..

  33. Scott Says:

    For a society that has been deeply damaged by colonialism can one think of a more offensive image of a white guy grabbing a daughter of India and forcing himself upon her? It is so symbolic. It is right in line with the image of the white colonist forcing himself upon a country and just taking whatever he wants.

    Richard Gere should pay the ultimate price for this.

    What bothers me however is those who would blame Shilpa Shetty for this.

    Too often women victims of rape in India are blamed for what happened like they wanted the rape to happen or it was their fault the rape happened even when the truth might be that the rapists brutalized them and they couldn’t stop the rape from happening.

    While of course Richard Gere didn’t actually rape Shilpa Shetty, I still see this whole “Blame the Woman Victim” dynamic in place. From what I saw from the video Shilpa Shetty did nothing to cause Richard Gere to act the way he did, and was in fact as shocked as everyone else was that he would act in such a disgraceful manner.

    We need to defend this daughter of India, not blame her for this white man’s assault upon her.

  34. Blogger Bhaiyya Says:

    >Nor do doctors who demand their pound of flesh by way of cold cash even >before looking at the dead body of a loved one on which law perchance >necessitates a post mortem. Or scores of government officials who squeeze >you to the brink of madness when it comes to demanding mamool.

    WTF has this got to do with Richard Gere kissing Shilpa???

    Do we go around blaming the govt whenevr/whereever we get a chance, even though it is not related?? I do get the point u r trying to make in the whole post (And I agree with u too..).

  35. Matt Says:

    Indian National,

    Gere almost mounted Shilpa? Are you retarded?

    Where was your anger when Mika kissed Rakhi forcibly? There, the woman said clearly that she was forcibly kissed, and all only said she did it for publicity? Or by your standards maybe an Indian raping another Indian is okay, but a foreigner kissing a willing woman is not?

    This reminds me of the hindu-fundamentalist diktat of some time back which did not Indian cows to be fertilised by foreign bulls!

    In case you have no idea, in this country, worse things happen on a daily basis. Cops raped and killed an encounter victim’s wife in Gujarat, but perhaps that is right in Indian culture. Swamis screwing prostitutes in temples, and MMS clips of that is embarassing but doesn’t offend us, we just keep quiet about it.

    This is a case of two people who behaved according to what was right according to their cultural standards, and if it offends someone, they perhaps should not do it and leave it at that.

  36. Matt Says:

    Scott,

    The daughter of India you want to defend has already told the ‘patriots’ to piss off.

  37. Matt Says:

    Ananth Shenoy,

    If what Taslima said is wrong, perhaps you belong in Bangladesh or Pakistan where they are ready to kill her , not here.

  38. Further thoughts on kissing.... « Recurring Decimals….. Says:

    [...] UPDATE; Via Amit Varma, another great post on the kissing hypocrisy. [...]

  39. Sid Says:

    Shilpa looked good in those pictures. I would have done more than kiss her if she would let me. I think Gere got really horny and acted on his instincts – but all he got was a sorta forced kiss on Shilpa’s cheek. I thought he had game – but I think you need a different kinda game with Indian women. Anyway I think Indians should not bother with this and should concentrate on toilet building … and keeping them clean by working on our personal habits… yuck!! Also the political parties (Shiv Sena)…. please shut up…. you are the scum of the earth…. you cater to the lowest common denominator….. even some of them donot care about you.

  40. sudhir Says:

    Sunaad, Ondu Koodloo Ilwa Thale Mele?

  41. Manjunath Says:

    Hi All,

    Publicity, Publicity and Publicity. The political gimmick is all about publicity and taking advantage of these publicly held ceremonies. However, the public celebrities has to little careful in their behavior during these public events and this is a perfect example of how the political elements can take advantage of the situation. Gere’s publicly kissing indeed affected the cultural conservatives however, it was not a news that should have made the headlines. On the other hand, the BPO organizations which serves the western world are completely modernized and behave as if they are in western countries. I don’t see a strong protest about this. India is facing problems internally. As my friend SUNAAD RAGHURAM writes about road side peeing problems, and other situations such as poors, slums, robbers, rapists, illitrates and others weakness or threats must be targeted. The shiv sena activists must thing about bringing these issues into the headlines.

    I feel personally, the political parties are power greed and no body cares about the problem.

    Just my feelings – Deeply hurt

    with regards,
    Manjunath

  42. vishnu Says:

    love this article….. i personally think its political parties make a big scene of it and playing the blame game on the ruling government……. such a sad scene in indian politics

  43. Deepak Says:

    Dear sir,
    It was really a good effort from your side to unleash the real fact behind these type of scenes, i pray to god that your words reach to those who really blindfold others in the name of the country.

  44. Nandini Says:

    Personally, I was outraged at Gere’s behavior because he basically molested Shetty. He did not have her consent to touch her. It was completely ridiculous, and as bad as when Adrian Brody randomly kissed Halle Berry at the 2002 (?) Oscars.

    Just imagine one of your colleagues randomly grabbing you ON STAGE IN FRONT OF MILLIONS OF PEOPLE! It’s completely uncouth.

  45. sunthosh2009 Says:

    Richard Gare thought it was a statue[Shilpa] from Ajanta Ellora caves. and Shipa thought it was a Budddist Monk in action.

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