I am not much of a couch potato. So it was only natural that I missed the Flipkart advertisement on the telly few days back. The advertisement was racist claimed a friend who sounded upset and hurt. The Flipkart advertisement featured a kid depicted as achowkidar, wearing thebhadgaule topi with thekhukuri insignia, speaking Hindi in a funny way. But I could not jump the gun without verifying the facts. I looked up online for the ad presuming that the advertisement might have been pulled down after all the furore it created. But lo! It’s still there! The ad shows a boy dressed as a security guard (Gorkha). He asks “ Zootein ley rahe ho Shabzi’ The ad even has subs in English for reasons best known to Flipkart! When I tried to mimic the line, I had great difficulty in getting "zhootein" and "Shabzi:" right. Hats off to the man who did the voice-over. He pronounces those words in such a weird fashion that no Nepali will ever be able to pronounce it that way! And how come I have never come across a Nepali who says Shabzi.
Why is it is kind of taken for granted that Nepalis speak Hindi in a funny way and we look ‘different’. I have grown up watching scenes in our movies where a Nepali man comes running to the gate and says ‘shalaam shaab’. We do not; I repeat we do not speak like that.
I also dislike the way Bollywood projects the khukri like a play thing. For Nepalis, the khukuri is a symbol of our valour and courage. And of course our pride!
|India's 1st field Marshall Gen. Sam "Bahadur" Manekshaw poudly wearing our Bhadgaule topi with Khukuri insignia|
"The khukuri is the national as well as the religious weapon of the Gurkhas. It is incumbent on a Gurkha to carry it while awake and to place it under pillow when retiring."
- Maharaja Padma Shamser Jangbahadur Rana
(Prime Minister and Supreme Commander).
But our pride has been hurt over and over again thanks to stereotyping and ignorance. Why do we Nepalis have to be projected only as chowkidars and maids when we have made our presence felt in almost all spheres? From martyrs to fashion designers who dress up powerful people to internationally acclaimed writers to sportspersons who bring laurels for the country, Nepalis have gone beyond guarding your gates. I dare companies to make an advertisement which has faces of successful Nepalis.
And as far as the funny accent is concerned, when I speak in Hindi people can’t tell if I am a Nepali. I am proud that I can speak the national language with ease. We grew up hearing and learning that ours is a country of diversity. Most of us wrote at least one essay on ‘Unity in Diversity’ in school. It is time we embraced the diversity instead of making divisive comments for commercial gains. Irresponsible companies should be answerable for divisive actions, be it Nepali or Bengali or Punjabi. It divides the country subtly but surely and creates hatred and jealousy where none existed.
And trust me; we have some very good lawyers in the Nepali fraternity. So think hard and think twice before you do something irresponsible.
By the way I wanted to place an order for a mouthwash but I am looking for something stronger, something that would wash down this offending taste.
Any idea when will it be available on Flipkart?
Don't bother, I found it on Amazon.com! Amazing!
*Jashoda Chettri, is a Gangtok based writer, poet, photographer and a social worker, she can be contacted at: firstname.lastname@example.org