Every now and then, I like to go to a bar somewhere and hit the mike. Making people laugh is a tough job; most stand-up comedians end up depressed or drunk or both by the time the evening of their careers hits daybreak. As a stand-up comedian, I have worked out a routine. I usually get to the venue about half an hour early and go over my material in my mind over as many drinks as I can accomplish before the lights are dimmed for the first joke of the evening.
“I am from Delhi,” I announce as soon as I hit the stage. People laugh. I then blurt out the nastiest, the choicest and the most pungent gaalis I learnt while growing up and wait for the roar to quieten before I start with my first joke. Here’s a sample: A woman goes to Chandni Chowk to buy a parrot. I want a well behaved parrot, she tells the shopkeeper, who acts on cue and points to the cage occupied by the best mannered, most learned and most wise parrot in all of Delhi. The woman walks up to the cage and says mithu mithu, say something. ‘Boss, I think, this woman is a prostitute,’ the parrot says loudly. What a foul-mouthed parrot, the woman says angrily. The shopkeeper says the bad boys in the neighbourhood have spoiled it. He requests the woman to ask the parrot questions and give it another chance.
‘What will you say if I come home one evening with one man?’
‘I will say Madam has come with her husband.’
‘What if there are two?’
‘Madam has come home with her husband and her devar.’
‘Madam has come home with her husband, her devar and her husband’s colleague.’
‘And if I come home with four?’
‘Boss, I told you, I am sure this woman is a prostitute.’
Not all of Mumbai loves Delhi jokes, though. Most of it does but not all of it. Jokes don’t work in the Yari Road, Lokhandwala, Oshiwara circuits because most of these neighbourhoods are populated by people from Delhi. Since they use such language in their day-to-day existence, they don’t fancy going to a bar and listening to someone giving gaalis unless they are allowed to beat up that guy afterwards, if you know what I mean.
I usually make jokes when I am angry; today I am very (very) angry. Have you seen the Youtube video of the Delhi girl being molested on New Year’s Eve? If you haven’t, may I suggest you search for ‘Delhi gang rape disrupted by police’, watch the video, perhaps feel as angry and violated as I am feeling right now, and carry on with the rest of the piece. I know I am asking for a lot, the video is disturbing, but may I recommend the footage for the sake of the women you love?
After watching the video, I felt ashamed of being from Delhi. I was angry at myself. I tried to create a new personal myth. I wasn’t born in Delhi, you know; I was born in Nainital, I am not a Dilliwalla, you see, I am a Kumaoni brahmin who had no choice but to grow up in the plains of Delhi because his father, like him, wanted to do something with his life, which he couldn’t in the mountains. Sadly, one can run away from Delhi but one cannot run away from one’s past. The truth is Delhi men go mad when they see a woman and I happen to be a Delhi boy (If I had not seen the video and only heard about it, I might have said I was as angry with myself like Luke Skywalker in the climax of Empire Strikes Back: it’s like helping your father steal something and watch him get caught and deal with the police from a distance. But I have seen the video and I know for a fact that Delhi is a city of conquerors and plunderers, not a place that gives birth to a jedi) and I am wrapped in guilt.
I am a comedian and I also have a plan (the twisted philosophy of stand up routine demands solutions) but since I am from Delhi, I do not think I am qualified enough to suggest any measures that can rehabilitate a rape victim and restore her dignity, which is why I propose a five-point peace plan tentatively titled Panchsheel for my brothers and brothers alone.
1. Porn should be easily accessible
2. Sex trade should be nationalised (Unlike Mumbai, where every auto driver knows the way and does not expect anything in return but for a salutary pat on the back, it is very difficult for a sexually frustrated and desperate man to find a prostitute in Delhi).
3. People who are convicted on charges of rape should not be allowed to waste their talent in prison. There should be a psychological rehabilitation of the convict as he deals with the guilt of raping a girl (30%) and getting convicted (70%). In the psyche of the rape convict, guilt is higher on account of conviction as opposed to the act of rape because in Delhi men are not expected to spend time in jail after they are caught by the police for raping a girl. About 50% of convicts propose to the victim in court and take her on a honeymoon where god knows what may happen. In almost all the cases, the police play social negotiators and ensure that matters of the house stay within four walls).
4. The convicts should be made to act in porn films produced by jail authorities to reduce the levels of sexual frustration among Indian men. Acting in a porn film will familiarise the convict with the nakedness of a woman and (perhaps) in a day or two of double shift shooting, he will get so bored with the idea of sex that in the future he would only be able to do it either for money (which would make him a porn star, or a male prostitute in Dubai) or with someone he truly adores (I have been told by a friend who has shot sufficient porn films in Los Angeles to claim authority that once a ‘stud’ acts in a porn film he understands the subtle difference between manhood and being a man on demand.)
5. Marriage between rape victims and perpetuators should be banned unless in exceptional cases (runaway lovers being harassed, etc).
I feel a little settled now. The anger is subsiding. I can sense a joke lingering in my mind like the last guest at the party hoping to hook up with the hostess: Why do girls watch porn movies right till the end? Because they think the boy will marry the girl when it’s all over.