Is it marathi manoos or manhoos?

Bombay will be always special to my family for it was where my grandfather began his career as he set foot into the city with his newly wedded wife. It was where my father has spent a major chunk of his life and also my early growing years. We’ve moved on to live in many other cites thereafter but Bombay always holds a special place in our hearts. The city that never sleeps has always been in the news but this time it’s not the floods of ’05, dalal street or the film industry. Bombay is being held hostage to an outsider issue and in the politics behind it is claiming innocent lives. For months now, the outsider imbroglio has been festering like an open wound and enjoys prime time discussions on every news channel. The latest causalities, two Young Bhaiyyaji Kids, Rahul Raj(YBK1) and Dharamdev Rai(YBK2) have been the posthumous recipients of The Great Indian Media Circus award. Pleased with receiving this award, the two youths decided to pay their now best friend Raj Thackeray a visit. Of course one must not forget that they were on a special gate pass for the night as they had unfinished business in this world. They enter the MNS headquarters that resembled a Maratha fortress only to find their one-time-nemesis Raj Thackeray(RT) in deep slumber. Let’s just see what happened thereafter.

YBK1: Wake up you fool! How can you even sleep while innocents burn?

RT: Tujha aayla kaun hain bey, Aai shapath teri toh… Who the…. What the… wait a min, I’ve seen you….

YBK2: Yea you’re right, we’re back from the dead. Even if it’s only for a night we’re here for sure!

RT: Aah now I know, It’s like that film where you die and the Lord of
sends you
back to fulfill
your incomplete wish
Lord of Hell sends you back to fulfill your incomplete wish!

YBK1: See I told you, these Mumbaikars can only think about cinema all the time.

RT: Are you out to kill me? The last time I saw you on TV, you were brandishing a gun in a BEST bus!

YBK1: Ah that was a case of brainwash. We are here for you longevity, more like your guardian angels.

YBK2: Yea hell is such a brilliant place and we are here to keep you away from hell for as long as possible!

RT: Wait a nimit for two minutes, you guys are here for my safety? Assa kay, kya baat hain!

YBK1: I must add yaar, ever since the Shiv Sena swept the municipal corporation elections, you seemed to be wiped of the Mumbai political scene.

YBK2: Now we see you’ve bounced back and every local and national daily has you on the front page. Damn you sirjee, you are the subject of television debates and you’ve united the whole of UP and Bihar.

RT: Now was that supposed to be a compliment, coz it sure didn’t seem like that!

YBK1: Tell me something Raj, does bashing up north Indian examinees, getting arrested and all that drama will ensure you mandate in your constituency, but will it be enable you in your dream to succeed your uncle Bal Thackeray as the ultimate Marathi manoos?

RT: Well the game plan doesn’t always execute as expected, so stop being so critical.

YBK2: Na re baba, I can clearly see the strategy now. Balasaheb rose to prominence with his rhetoric against all the Srinivasans, Krishnamurthys and basically anybody south of the Vindhyas. You’ve seen to have taken a liking for the sons
of the Ganges
You’ve seen to have taken a liking for the sons of the Ganges!

RT: You can’t blame me for treading the path laid by my elders. Afterall that’s what a true Thackeray does, we always look for outsiders!

YBK1: I think the average manoos, today has a sense of frustration at losing out economically and culturally to other social groups in Mumbai’s endless battle for scarce resources. So is there an inferiority complex somewhere?

YBK2: The current government has squeezed the state dry and Sena now seems likea house cat. The stage is set for a dynamic leader to emerge as the messiah of the sons of the soil.

RT: So you think I should channel my energies on Marathwada instead?

YBK2: Also paagal ke aulaad, don’t you know that electoral politics is very different from street agitations. Just because the news channels report round the clock coverage of taxis being stoned and buses being burnt, you sure get tonnes if publicity. Does instilling fear in people like your uncle, translate into votes these days? Votebank politics made sense in the 60’s or in remote villages divided by caste and religion. It doesn’t make any sense these days, especially in a multi-cultural city like Mumbai.

YBK1: Don’t you forget what your cousin Uddhav did with his ‘Mee Mumbaikar ‘ campaign a few years ago that actually made some sense, but yet was interpreted as being anti-migrant. We all know what happened as a result when the Sena lost the 2004 elections both Lok Sabha and assembly.

RT: Don’t you dare compare me with Uddhav, he was pro-Mumbai and I’m anti-Bihari. There is a difference there mind you!

YBK1: I think you’re not looking to gain the electoral mandate, it more seems like you want to stake claim to the legacy and out do your cousin.

YBK2: My guess is that even the Cong-NCP wants the same, with two tigers going at it its always the hyena that benefits!

RT: So you guys think that this divide-and-rule politics is just eroding our family ties and eating into our own votebank?

YBK1: Let me add to that, playing fire with fire doesn’t help your cause. The only outcome is a burning metropolis and innocent deaths.

YBK2: What do you gain by this ‘goonda raj ‘ I ask. What is the message that you try to put across by stoning taxis and shutting shops? Beating up a daily wager or a student from Bihar only deepens the chasm and increases the regional divide.

RT: I actually broke away for I harbored the dream of a modern Maharashtra.

YBK1: If that’s the case then do something for the Marathi youth. Help them be more competitive, set up some institute of sorts.

YBK2: If the factories are employing us and if we are preferred over the locals then, why don’t you help them hone their skills? It appears that they are technically inept, so do something to improve that!

YBK1: If Bihari youths are appearing for railway exams so can the Marathis. If we are getting selected then that is on merit, so why don’t you help them to be more competitive.

RT: You migrants don’t respect our culture and ethosYou migrants don’t respect our culture and ethos. The Marathi culture is slowly disappearing today.

YBK1: If that’s the case then instead of attacking us try promoting Marathi culture. If you feel that Bhojpuri cinema is killing the Marathi film industry then try supporting the local talent. Do your bit to promote the local art and theater instead while you can spare us.

RT: What do you have to say bout the slums and squeezing of the city’s resources by you migrants.

YBK2: Look the crumbling infrastructure isn’t created by us. Don’t tell me you aren’t aware of the real-estate sharks and land-grabbing mafia. There is a huge nexus between politicians and builders where crores of rupees changes hands everyday. Try pelting stones at them for a change.

YBK1: Also Mumbai is not the only city, aren’t you a statewide party? Try creating jobs in Vidaarbha, marathwada and there may not be so many farmer suicides then. Such things may not make it to prime time news discussions, but they sure will contribute to your vision of a ‘Modern maharashtra ‘.

YBK2: Chalo bhaiyya hum chalte hain. We are on a gate-pass and heave to get back. We also have to attend a Sambhavna Seth stage show on the way. Ganga maiyya ki saugandh, watay dancer she is! Chalo phir, Jai ram ji ki.

Please don’t take this as a rant of a so-called-migrant. Now, like everyone else even I’m proud of all the cities I’ve lived in. I feel that not just Maharashtra, but every state needs to preserve it’s cultural heritage and cater to the economic well being of it’s locals. However this doesn’t have to be interpreted as hooliganism against non-locals and forcing everyone including shops to adopt the local language. We left Mumbai fourteen years ago and Hyderabad three years ago. You can call me a lungi/mundu wala sitting across the seas and passing witty comments on the sorry state of affairs. But before being identified as Marathi, Gujju, Telugu, Mallu or Tamil, I’m a proud citizen of the greatest democracy of the world. People move to other cities seeking professional growth and in a way we are all migrants in the Lords playground. State/country borders never stop the birds, rivers nor the wind. Borders are made by only us and I wonder what we have gained as humans.

PS: The pun in the title is totally intended and solely in jest.

  • Marathi Manoos:maharashtrian local or domicile
  • Manhoos: cursed, ill-fortuned, unlucky
  • Mundu/lungi: Tube shaped loose garment worn by men in south India.

(Images Courtesy: Satish and Manas.)