Go for real patriotism…by Pritish Nandy

I posted a query on twitter last saturday: Will you be outraged if I didn’t back India for the World Cup? Will you consider me a traitor? Perhaps those were not the exact words but that was the gist of what I asked. It was like asking my wife: Would you mind if I went out tonight to Blue Frog with Natalie Portman? After all, I had watched No Strings Attached the evening before and was feeling a bit frisky. The fact that I don’t know Portman was entirely unrelated to the question. It was rhetorical. Like the kind of questions Sartre asked God, whose existence he did not acknowledge.

The responses on twitter were as predictable as my wife’s. Many were outraged. A few pleaded with me not to back any other team. Others asked me secretly, by DM or SMS, which team I was backing. A few were pleasantly balanced but, yes, surprised by my question. My son responded, saying he knew someone who backs Bangladesh. I replied that I was also going to do the same, given that they are such a spunky little team and so under-rated. (Bangladesh was subsequently hammered in their first match with India, who they had kayoed in the first match of the last World Cup.) I love winnows and it’s always a pleasure to back a David against the mighty Goliath on whose victory people have betted millions. Your chances of losing are high but, if you win, you win one hell of a lot.

But winning isn’t the only thing on my mind. I grew up as part of a generation that loved losers as much as, if not more than they loved winners. Very often these losers became winners because of the support they got. The world has changed a lot since then. Today, people hate losers. No one backs anyone but an assured, 100 per cent guaranteed winner. (In the pre-World Cup warm-up match with NZ, Sreesanth provoked them not by showing them the middle finger but the L sign.) Everyone wants to be a W. Or bet on a W. Be it on the stock market, the sports stadium or in politics. The challenger fights a lonely battle. It’s tough to be a Che today. Or a Rocky Balboa. Or even a Frankie Wilde. That’s why it’s so difficult to unseat the guys in power. They are too wealthy, too well entrenched.

But let’s go back to my original question: Do I have to root for India to prove my patriotism? Why can’t I back a team which I think deserves to win? Like, say, South Africa. Why can’t I back spunky Bangladesh? Or Sri Lanka, a team for whom my heart always goes out, I don’t even know why? In fact, why do I have to back a team, any team, to win the Cup? I can cheer a different team in every match, like I do when I watch the soccer World Cup. I can back the team that plays best. Why must I back India? Every bookmaker’s backing India, every gambler. So is the media, sponsored by countless brands. Our cricket team is all about money, glamour, stardom– the usual suspects. It doesn’t need your support nor mine. Every halfwit on the road is rooting for it even if he can’t differentiate a leg bye from a leg before.

Wearing patriotism on your sleeve is easy. Anyone can paint saffron, white and green on their face and yell for India. Anyone can wave a flag. But it’s time we did a few real things for this great country of ours, where more than half our fellow citizens live in sordid conditions. For me, patriots are those who do the things that actually matter. Like filing RTI applications and getting beaten or killed for exposing corrupt politicians and venal Government servants. For me, a patriot is that unsung middle class guy who picks up unclaimed corpses from the streets and hospitals of Mumbai and gives them the dignity of a burial or a cremation. Or those idealistic young doctors who still go to the villages of India to start clinics there. Or the unknown heroes who risk their lives to protect mangroves, forests and wildlife, who work for street children and stray animals, destitute people or those who are terminally ill and can’t afford treatment. It’s tough fighting for lost causes in a country where no one has time for losers. Yet they do it with courage, dignity and rare commitment simply because India means much more to them than winning a World Cup or an Oscar.

Most of us only complain about things going wrong. We wring our hands and show faux anger against the wrongdoers. Our self pity blindsides real action. The true patriots roll up their sleeves and get to work for India. They may not always win. In fact, more often than not, they lose. But in their defeat lies greater courage than in all the wins we celebrate with such rahrah.

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79 Responses to “Go for real patriotism…by Pritish Nandy”

  1. I would find it difficult to support any other country when it comes to cricket besides mine. In football however, even if by some freak act, India qualifies for the world cup, I would still wear the blue and white Argentine jersey. Is this patriotism? Yes.

  2. I mean, I blindly support India when it comes to Cricket but would not do so for Football. So, does that make me unpatriotic. By Nandy’s definition, No.

  3. Sharmila,

    For once a different flavor. At last Pritish Nandy speaks his mind about patriotism even though he had to use a sport to draw his readers’ attention.

    Back soon…

  4. Sharmila,

    I totally see your point about the blue-and-white. It tears me apart when they play Germany and I was nowhere near happy last summer when “it” happened. At least in my town in California Argentinians and Germans watch the game together in great amiability and afterwards dry each other’s tears.

    Europe is scary though, with vandalism quite common after important games. Does the “patriotism” in India go quite that far?

  5. Patriotism and sporting events on the same platform are probably entertaining for peace-time relaxation, and I guess an assured income for those who are accustomed to living off the naivity of unthinking people.

    I’ll skip the obvious difference between a sport and patriotism.

    Let me focus on the meaner issue of Pritish Nandy’s patriotism as expressed by him in the post.

    Back soon…

  6. I could never give up my Indian passport for the Aussie one..In my opinion, it would have been blasphemous for me to do so. This is patriotic.

    • Sharmila,

      I guess in that respect I am patriotic like you, too. I will not give up my German passport for an American one. Besides, the mere idea of pledging allegiance to a flag gives me the creeps, even though I may agree with everything laid down in the constitution.

  7. I don’t always support India …but I always support any team playing against Pakistan. That’s my rule 🙂

    • Lol.. same here!! BTW, was wondering where you were. Good to see you back , my new post is out on TOI.. its on your idol, Sachin.. curious to read about your reactions there..

      • I was here, reading the comments. Yeah read your article on TOI, scanned the comments to find people to fight with who are critical of Sachin but didn’t find any. That was disappointing.

        I will think of something to post tomorrow.

      • There will be more trow, when the blog moves to the first page. Normally, you fight with me.. this blog is a rare one where we are on the same page..

  8. Sharmila,
    May I know why you support India when it comes to Cricket but would not do so for Football?

  9. Will post my comment later…
    My hands are full and Its hard for me to hold on to this device today…too many needy in the line…
    besides running to and fro to airport..dropping ppl..I feel like a cab driver today…lol
    catch you may be my night time…
    Good night to you all on that side of the world…

  10. Where is everybody?

    Boys and girls come out to play,
    The moon does shine as bright as day;
    Come with a hoop, and come with a call,
    Come with a good will or not at all.
    Loose your supper, and loose your sleep,
    Come to your playfellows in the street;
    Up the ladder and down the wall.
    A halfpenny loaf will serve us all.
    But when the loaf is gone, what will you do?
    Those who would eat must work — ’tis true.

    Anonymous

  11. Glad you liked it, Sharmila, only it did not work!

    Everyone on your side of the globe seems to be in the same predicament.

    Oh well, I’ll just go and cry myself to sleep… 😥

  12. Ooooofffffffffffff… tired… busy, busy, busy, busy mmaaaawwwnnnnniiiiiiiiiinnnnnn

    Sharmia. MonaLisa, Renate (sleeping already?),, Aishwarya (Kidhara?)

    WAKE UP!

    Whats the point in sleeping? Have you had a dream come true?

  13. Reader,

    Yes, I was asleep, but it looks like I did not miss much.

    Will ya wake up already:

    • Lol Renate…
      Reader didn’t hear that…! Its a fine Rooster in that pic…
      A Horse can proudly give a ride to the Rooster….do you know that…!? Well…! Chinese Astro says so… 🙂
      Liked your poem… 🙂
      C ya in a bit…

  14. Reader…
    Good Morning….
    None of above links work…. 😦

    Lol…Reader…Lots of points in sleeping…
    Dreams are a different story….Dreams are never meant to be True or come True….However some may come true …some don’t… And we always look at the Glass half full…. 🙂

  15. MonaLisa, Renate, Sharmila,

    I heard that loud and clear. Give me 10. Changing.

  16. MonaLisa, Renate,

    Thanks for callling. I was planning to hit the bed early if you hadn’t turned up.

    The day was a bit long in a way. I had to move into the office very early today for preparing two reports within the first hour.

    The mind was a bit pre-occupied with physical distractions. The headache that had begun late last night was joined by a cough, congestion and fever this morning.

    Nonethelees, I went through the office work somehow like a programmed robot. That’s easy actually. Office work can be so impersonal. The end users don’t have to see my face. They read my reports for their own objectives and from their own perspectives.

    Have you noticed how a silly pettiness often ends in abusive behavior? Some adults become so rigid due this repetitive occurence that they prefer to call it their natural instincts and shrug at the consequences in the name of fate or destiny.

    Did you know that we can boil an egg in a tea maker? Aha.. no you didn’t. I have boiled not one but two eggs in a small electric tea-maker. You can tell that to Renate’s rooster in the frame above.

    Can two half-full glasses make one full glass?

    If I was given a choice I’d rather have a bottle made of glass, so I could still call it just a glass… even if OBCD…

    🙂

    • Reader….
      Yep …two half full glasses can make one fulll….but the other will be completely empty eventually…is that fair…!?
      Liked that glass bottle’s idea…for you …we can put rubber nipple on it… 🙂 🙂 🙂
      Since when Roosters start laying eggs..!? Why would Rooster be concerned if you boil two eggs or four at a time…!? 🙂
      Boil as many as you can….. 🙂
      Now this is not fair that you are not taking good care of yourself….what’s with your cold,sinus and cough acting up all the time…!? Now they brought their buddy ..fever to play along…where is your med cabinet…damn it..!? Have you all those necessary meds in there or not..!? Now don’t make us all come to ME and beat up …not you…hahahaha…lol
      your cough,cold,sinus and fever… 🙂
      Take proper rest and get ready for a ride in the brand new morning… tomorrow..
      Good Night…

  17. Reader,

    What do you mean, OBCD?

    If you’re always organizing things, you have OCD. If you’re always eating things, you have OBCD.

    • Renate,

      A bottle made of glass is a small glass with OBCD… I am a material man… 🙂

      • Reader,

        If you live on eggs boiled in a tea maker at least you don’t have to worry about OBCD.

        Reminds me of my student days – during the all-nighters in the lab I would keep myself fed by boiling eggs in a pyrex glass beaker on the Bunsen burner.

        Ahhh, the Good Old Days…

      • Renate,

        I am back to cooking for myself after a long time. I must get into the habit anyway.

        I have this magical american electric vessel that is made from the alloys used in the space shuttle. It cooks anything.

        It has two layers of the metal with hydraulic oil in between that is heated by electric power. The lid has a steam buster that maintains the temperature and pressure inside. There is also a timer and temperature control on the plug like a microwave!

        It’s an ideal all-purpose cooking gadget. I don’t need LPG gas or a microwave.

      • Bachelors….

        I think I am going to send you to bed now with a hot water bottle. Sadly, you would not accept my other prescription, a stiff hot toddy with lots of lemon peel.

        Take care of yourself, I don’t think MonaLisa had planned her trip to the ME that soon…

      • Renate,

        The ME is already in turmoil. There was some aerial firing in Libya. Ground forces firing at protestors in Bahrain. Police on rampage in Yemen. The expats are watching.

        The banking systems are working. Money value is not affected. So far so good.

        I have always said, if systemic reforms don’t occur in time, a revolution against regimes is inevitable.

      • Reader,

        Very true about revolutions – and how to prevent them. That is one thing working democracies are good about – slow systemic changes, keeping the pressure low and letting the steam escape.

        Do you expect unrest in Oman, too?

      • Renate,

        Oman is already an administrative democracy like the United Kingdom. There is a governing constitution and elected councils.

        There is no sign of civic disturbance.

      • Reader,

        I am glad to hear that.

        I was serious about putting you to bed though. I have to go to work now and nobody else seems around.

        Gute Nacht, or how do you say in Gerindi 🙂

      • Renate,

        What’s happening Germany? Of a population of 82.3 million, 7 million are migrant foreigners from Turkey, Greece and other nations. Seems like Germany is running into immigration issues.

        CNN is doing an elaborate report on Germany. What’s up?

      • Renate,

        Shubhecht Ratriket in Gerindi…. 🙂 Have a nice day…

      • 🙂

      • Yes, Germany had those problems for a while. The issues are complex, let’s talk about it later….

        Shubhecht…whatever….

        Schlaf gut 🙂

    • Lol …Renate…
      It might be an Obsessive Bachelor’s Compulsive Disorder… 🙂

  18. Hmmm….I wonder…when is Mr.Nandy going to roll up his sleeves and join the real patriots he defined…
    Are all social workers…Patriots..!?

  19. Lol…Renate…you think so…!?
    Poor….baby…did you get hurt…!? Reader…!
    Sorry…! You invited that upon you…you know..! 😦
    What do I do…!? I am Lucifer…and Lucifer has to play her role properly…or she will be fired… there is no mercy up/down there… in that matter.. 😦

  20. Good Morning…all
    Am I early or The sun didn’t rise this morning on that side of earth…yet…!?

  21. MonaLisa MonoLogueing…

    It’s only me…and I bid you a Good Evening….

    How do we wake those guys?

  22. Good eve to you too renate…thank you..

    Where did your Rooster go…!? 🙂

    That might help wking thses guys up…it did work yesterday…right…!?

    Is Reader ok..!? you might know…somehow…I won’t..so asked..

  23. MonaLisa,

    Reader overslept the rooster today and yes, he is ill, but said he would be online soon.

    Is this how you feel, Reader?

  24. REEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEENAAAAAAAAATTTTTTTT, MMMMMMMMMOOOOOOOOONNNNAALISSSSSSSAAAAAAAAAA,
    SSSSSSSSSSHHHHHHHHAAAAAAAAAARRRRRMIIIIIIIILAAAAAAA

    Guuuuuuuddddddddd Mmmmaaaaaaaawwwwwnnnnnnnniiiiiiiiiinnnnnnnn

    I am feeling so weak and lethargic. I need to gym or swim to get the circulation back. I could skip the office today but methinks it’s cosier there. I am not yet accustomed to living alone in silence even after so many years.

    Many discerning adults study the attributes of a successful or a happy person for discussing with their friends or teaching their children. However, I feel the facts at ground zero often turn out to be so boring and disappointing that they add a bit of idealism to it! What do you think?

    Back in a moment…

  25. Reader,

    Good to see you among the living.

    Hmmm…I don’t get that question….could you rephrase? You mean they are happy or successful for boring reasons?

    • When we look into the finer details of such a person’s life it turns out to be the routine humdrum – nothing ingenious or magical.

      • Yes, and then it begs the question: Why am I not like this?

        Do you know the answer?

      • I have never asked myself, “Why am I not like this?”

        It wouldn’t occur to me even if I was studying my own parents.

        That’s not the point.

        My question is: Do we add our own bits of assumed ideals in our narration or do the ideals really exist in that person? How do we know?

      • It may be beside the point, but I think it anyway. I wonder if there is anything in them that I could never achieve, try as I might – or is it only my own neglect and incompetence that stands in my way.

        There is a saying: They are only cooking with water, too.

        It probably depends on how well we know the person and their motivations.

      • Renate,

        When we study the precise conditions in which these success stories were scripted by the individuals, we find most often that those conditions do not exist anymore.

        So, I feel the success or happiness is the merit of an ideal that is applied by the person in the conditions that the person exists.

        In short, I don’t need to know the conditions in which a person succeeded in the past. I have my own conditions to deal with. I only need to learn the ideals.

      • That sounds reasonable enough. But I think “ideals” exist in a vacuum.

        After all, biology is a very sloppy science, or better said, life is a sloppy business, and the ideals must adapt in order to be applied to life in real people.

        Does that make sense? I am not sure it came out in the right way,

      • Correction: Ideals don’t adapt. They are adapted.

      • Renate,

        If I perform up to an ideal in anything I do, I am actually tempted to break the mould and create a new one.

        So far my ideals have been limited to sundry stuff but that is my general pattern.

      • It’s not the ideal’s fault.

        You have an untapped creativity inside that’s looking for…hmmm….right word will be tough…help me….

      • Let me give you an example for humdrum sloppiness of real life:

        I am having a bit of a friendly discussion with two friends on a blog.

        Ideally what I would say to any given prompt would be the same I would say for example tomorrow when I am rested and more recovered from that bloody cold. But now I am tired, have a headache and I still cough. It clouds my thinking and blunts any wit that I might have ever had.

      • Yeah, Ideal.

        Where do you go looking for them if they don’t stare you in the face?

      • Renate,

        Did you see the good part of the illness? It makes me more patient about everything. I write more slowly which makes it grammatically more sensible though not without the usual corrections.

        My mind is a software that goes slow on thoughts when the body needs it’s attention.

        ===

        That is the discussion we are having. Where do you look for ideals if they are not around staring as you say in the face?

  26. Do you mean sticking to the routine makes a person successful..!?

  27. Why do one need to find an Ideal in life..!?
    Why can’t one just be him/her self..!?
    What & why is it so important to be like someone..!?
    If one can get the answer to these Qs then the Q arises…
    How does one decide the ideal..!? What and where to look for one appropriate or suitable to one’s needs..ambitions..!?

    • MonaLisa,

      Ideals are required as a scale. There is no fun without ideals. Walking on two legs is one thing and walking with assured arrogance on two long legs like AB in Deewar is another thing!

      You are right about comparison. An ideal of any sort, perceptual or conceptual is not for comparison. An ideal is a measuring unit or a standard that is absolute.

      I don’t know how an ambition can decide an ideal – seems incongruous to me.

  28. Renate, MonaLisa,

    Leaving to attend to my doctor. Have a guuuuuddddd Nnnaiiiiiiiiiiiittttttttttt.

  29. Give him all your attention!

    And please respond to the Mami email.

    Good Night.

  30. Reader…
    I disagree here…that one has to set a standard for one self…picking an ideal…
    For every person…standards could be different…
    Every actor can’t and shouldn’t make AB an ideal or anyone else…
    Everyone differs in looks,aura and acting capability…
    AB is lucky to have long legs…what if other actor doesn’t…
    In that case it would be nothing but a disappointment to that actor…he might not achieve nothing but frustration…
    Every social worker can’t be Gandhi…
    Only Ideals can’t make one successful…or help achieve what they want…
    about success…exactly that is my point…you can’t set mark for self looking to what others achieved…
    Understanding one’s ability and interest…one can decide and focus on on’es ambition…one should look for an ideal within the parameter…if required.. what and why do you find it incongruous anyway..!?

  31. Good Night all….

    Have a good one Reader…safe trip to your Dr…tc….

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