I have said this before on my blog and I will say it now again. The Sourav Ganguly issue makes me more acutely aware of my identity than any other thing simply because anti-Gangulyism is strongly followed by and often driven by anti-Bengalism—-a surprisingly powerful and undeniably perceptible sentiment I have felt more than once in my life in the company of fellow Indians.
Let’s look at it logically. Who is Sourav to me? A rich man’s son who had many privileges growing up I didnt have—by common consent arrogant, abrasive and petulant. Not my favorite kind of person. I have never been parochial, have no problems in making fun of other other Bengali heroes (Mithunda), do not hero-worship Netaji and do not feel that the Hilsa is the last thing in cuisine. And yet the mere mention of Dada makes me acutely conscious of my linguistic identity which is ironical in that Sourav Ganguly’s greatest legacy is his lack of parochialism and his hard-nosed objectivity when dealing with Indian cricket players.
Here’s a simple test. Go through a few articles about Sourav. The word “Bengal” or “Kolkata” is going to be present in the article with a high probabibility. Now go through a few articles about Sachin. Check out “Maharashtra” or “Mumbai”. Just to confirm that go to articles about Rahul Dravid and check out “Karnataka” or ” Bangalore”.
Go through the Orkut discussion on Ganguly. The people who abuse Ganguly also use abusive words against Bengalis —mostly concerning our paternities and the characters of our women. In Stonybrook where I was a PhD student for 5 years, the guy who used to rain abuse at Ganguly happened to be someone who stayed in Kolkata when he was a child and hated it. Just a coincidence. Whenever Ganguly got out, eyes would turn towards me….some people would tell me ” Ki Arnab-da….when is Dada going to make runs?” as if somehow me being Bong made me answerable for Sourav’s performance. No Bangalorean or Marathi was ever made accountable for Sachin’s or Rahul Dravid’s failures with the bat—-and there have been several over the past 5 years.
So let me pre-empt Mr Anonymous commenter. Yes sir, I support Ganguly because he is Bengali. Because you have left me no other choice. If I was Bangalorean and took out a procession burning effigies of Ganguly and shouting slogans for Rahul Dravid, I would not be considered parochial. But with me being a Bengali Kolkatan, I have already been labelled. So now let me live upto it. Unapologetically.
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