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My secret demonisms 
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Illustration: Bhaskaran

Now that we're all introspecting madly and checking ourselves for any lurking biases, unconscious discrimination, sexism, racism, classism, et al., I've decided to come clean about my own little clutch of ‘isms'. The idea here is not to vent, but to be constructive. Confession before conversion, as they say. Here goes.
I've always been a fair-ist. By which I mean that I've always distrusted fair-skinned people. Not foreigners though, who can't help being fair, but Indians. I don't warm up to fair-skinned Indians. It's probably because I'm ‘wheatish' myself, and am the brownest sister in a batch of four. Or maybe it's because of this super fair (and super unfair) class teacher I had in class two. Whatever. Anyway, the fact is that I am automatically hostile to fair-skinned Indian people. I know it's a horrible thing to be and I try hard to fight it, but it is genuinely difficult for me. I keep creating toffee-torso heroes and fair, weedy creepos in every book I write. I'd pick Ajay Devgn over Hrithik Roshan anyday, which is, you know, a harmless, consequence-free thing to do, but also Narendra Modi over Rahul Gandhi, which is perhaps, not such a harmless, consequence-free thing to do.
And now, I've slowly come to realise that I'm a fit-ist too. As in, I don't like fit people. They irritate me. They set my teeth on edge and make me fantasise about slipping globs of butter into their skinnichinos the way lustful sickoes dream about slipping date-rape drugs into the wine glasses of pretty, popular girls. Them and their smooth muscly forearms, non-jiggly thighs and I-don't-eat-carbs-after seven nakhras. Get them out of my sight, I say. And don't let them back in till they're force fed into being pleasingly plump.
Related to this particular ‘ism' is another one: Marathoni-ism. I don't like people who run marathons. For some strange reason, we're always being exhorted to Bhaag Dilli Bhaag and Bhaag Mumbai Bhaag and Bhaag Chennai Bhaag nowadays. Why? Why can't everybody just lounge about, and chat and read a good book or watch that glowing Aishwarya Rai's interviews or follow that nice, good-looking Ram Kapoor on Bade Achhe Lagtey Hain, huh?
But no. We've been taken over by the marathoners. They're everywhere. My social newsfeed is full of people who've recently run some miserable half-marathon or the other. They're always radiating moral superiority, touching themselves under the chin to check their pulse rate, posing with their certificates, all sweaty and toned and proud, and cuddling up to ‘fit' celebrities like Kalki and Katrina, wearing sleeveless vests with stickered numbers; and gushing madly about ‘the pulsating positivity, the bonhomie, the feeling of 4,000 people running together, while curly-haired little children handed us glasses of Glucon D from the sidelines and cheered us on.'
I'd like to stand along the sidelines, too, and hand out a glassfull of horse tranquillizer and cheer them on…
While I'm confessing my ‘isms' let me admit that I also have a thing against people with accents. I don't quite know what to call this particular ‘ism' (accenti-ism?). But anyway, this lot makes me grit my teeth and roll my eyes and threaten my children that if they ever bring one of this species home to me, then they can forget about inheriting a share in my collection of spiffy pencil sharpeners and my stash of pretty Jaipuri razais. (Again, this applies to Indians only. Obviously foreigners will have an accent, that's only reasonable, and I'm anything but not reasonable.)
Hope this public confession helps you to face and exorcise your own secret ‘isms' as well. So that we can all live together in a happier, more tolerant India. That's the point of it. Honestly.

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