On the 66’th anniversary of his nation’s independence, noted Chennai-hater and literary prize winner Manu Joseph decided to use the precious real estate of The New York Times for some doodle-y scribbles about the random thought bubbles that occupied the space above his head. The newspaper of record must be going thru some internal strife themselves as they seem to have laid off editors who could possibly have proofread Joseph’s piece of crap before publishing it.
Here are four things about Joseph’s piece that make me wonder if this was part of a thought experiment by him to write when high on alcohol or a drug of some sort –
a) Foolish metaphor for India – More than 400 of the 900+ words of the precious New York Times real estate have been devoted to “Chennai Express” using the movie as a metaphor or analogy for India today. This is the laziest form of writing possible. You can pretty much watch any scene from any movie and interpret that any way you desire. “Bhaag Milkha Bhaag” which is the second highest grossing movie in India this year is the story of a North Indian runner that has been lapped up by Indians worldwide. What does Mr. Joseph think that movie tells us about India?
b) “Yet, what really unites India is, very simply, its habit of being India.” – This is the sort of line that sounds smart in a writer’s head but reads like something Sanjay Dutt would use in an interview with a VJ on one of the thousand cable channels. It is again extremely lazy writing to put words together like this. Replace India with any country in that sentence and it reads the same. right? This is exactly the sort of thing that an editor at a major newspaper website would have caught. Some day The New York Times will be one.
c) “Its urban affluent are far less extravagant than the rich of Delhi or Mumbai. Its weddings are more subdued than the festivities of the North. Its political corruption is believed to be far less sophisticated, and its real estate prices rise more slowly than in the North.” A long time ago when The New York Times was able to hire respected journalists like Nate Silver and not idiots like Basharat Peer, they required words and sentences in their articles to be factually correct. Apparently this is not a requirement any more as Mr. Joseph runs with the stereotype in his head to make a sweeping generalization that would make fellow NY Times contributor Thomas Friedman very proud. South Indian weddings are more subdued? Real estate prices in Chennai and Bangalore are rising slower than in Chandigarh and Delhi? Again, I wish the New York Times had editors.
d) “All through this film, which is about the mutual incomprehension of the North and the South, basic English is a ceaseless bond between the characters.” Once again with the film. Apparently winning literary awards and making a butt-load of money sitting on his couch does not teach someone a Hindi movie directed by Rohit Shetty starring Shah Rukh Khan made solely to make money is not a friggin’ metaphor for India today. If (Gods forbid) Rohit Shetty had made cricket the unifying factor between North and South India in the movie, Mr Joseph today would have written a 1000 word rant using cricket as the metaphor?
Manu Joseph just wrote an incoherent, flawed and fact-free piece on India today. He just pawned the New York Times and basically got them to publish a third standard essay as their Independence day piece. It is gibberish if you read it in a supermarket tabloid and it is gibberish if you read it in the New York Times.
Happy Independence Day Indians! Let me remind you that you are indeed free to not read Manu Joseph’s tripe.