Trolling the Indian troll: A brief history of coconut meat
They say that a black person can make fun of a black person, but if a white person does it, it's racism. I’m a Hindi-speaking north Indian male. I believe I have a right to make fun of fellow north Indian Hindi-speaking men.
If anyone organised a world championship for trolls, Indian trolls will win hands down. But the Indian troll has an unfair advantage—he was born with a coconut for a brain. Human beings in other parts of the world, including budding future trolls, are born with baby human brains, which then develop over time.
What happens with the Indian troll is that when he goes to school, carrying an overloaded satchel, the system systematically scoops out what’s called the white flesh or what is also known as coconut meat.
By standard eight the Indian troll has already made up his mind that he is going to be a doctor or an engineer. By the time this troll passes out of school, all the meat has been removed from the coconut and what he’s left with is an empty, cracked shell of a brain.
A few days ago, thousands of these cracked coconut shells emerged from their hiding place in the saffron swamp to attack music director A R Rahman.
Rahman played a show in London, in which out of 28 songs, only 13 were in Hindi. To calculate the percentage, divide 28 by 13 and multiply by hundred. If I remember correctly the medley at the end of the show was also 36.5% Hindi. Outrageous. The coconuts rained down on Rahman’s head. Rahman, argued the short-changed coconut, should have sung all his songs in Hindi.
The real source of this phoney outrage was that the trolls were jealous that Allah blessed Rahman with a brain but gave them coconuts instead. There is not much point in commenting on a manufactured controversy, except that I don’t dig Rahman being dissed like this.
Here’s some advice for A.R. to help him avoid such problems in the future (this will recur; times are bad): in his concerts, he should throw in three English songs, which Hindi-speaking north Indians consider their own.
These are: Pink Floyd’s ‘The Wall’, Queen’s ‘We Will Rock You’ and Bryan Adam’s ‘Summer of ’69’. You put this in your set list and the Hindi chauvinist will forget to count the number of Tamil songs.
The north Indian coconut has internalised these songs as coming from his own culture. He doesn’t know the words but he knows the chorus.
With ‘The Wall’, he knows only the line ‘We don’t need no education’ and ‘Hey teacher, leave the kids alone.’ His connect with this song is easy to fathom—it was the teacher who scooped out the flesh from the coconut in the first place.
In ‘We Will Rock You’, he replaces ‘rock’ with ‘f*ck’, because it’s the only English word he knows. In the 1990s, the song was covered by Indian bands in every single campus rock show.
The lead vocalist would stop at ‘We will...’, flip the mike over towards the audience and hundreds of sweaty flesh-less coconuts would finish the sentence in perfect unison, ‘...f*ck you.’ Freddy Mercury screamed himself hoarse in his grave but to no avail. We had made the song our own.
With ‘Summer of ‘69’, the fan knew only two lines which he proudly screamed out loud—‘I got my first real six-string’ and ‘Jimmy quit, Jody got married’, before lapsing into an incoherent hum (doo-dum-doo-da-da-da) till the chorus burst through.
As long as Rahman plays these three, he will be safe. These might not be his songs but that doesn’t matter to the fans. They need to listen to songs that they are familiar with. These are the same north Indians who got their Harry Potters signed by Ruskin Bond when they were in school. Did it really matter that Ruskin didn’t write them?
Congratulatory d**k pics?
The other recent story about Indian trolls has to do with a Quora user called Jack Fraser, a third-year student of physics at Oxford, who solved an IIT JEE paper in one-third the time it usually takes. To make things worse he got all the answers right.
Next, he was swamped by Indian trolls. The coconuts rained down again. Instead of applauding Jack JEE and giving credit where it was due (how about a fist bump: ‘Respect, bro!’), the trolls (after touching own mother’s feet and a visit to the temple) called him scum, liar and sent him d**k pics.
Fraser said, “My mum still refers to it as ‘The time that guy had such low self esteem that he considered me seeing his penis to be the worst insult imaginable’.”
The last came as a surprise. I was under the impression that Indian trolls only did that with left-liberal women authors and female news anchors. On the contrary, at least in this respect, it seems the coconut troll is democratic. He sends the pictures of privates to young white men too.
But wait. They sent obscene pictures to his mother and death threats to his brother as well.
Fraser wrote on social media: ‘I am a third-year physics student. This is a high school-level paper, taken by 17-year-olds who haven't spent 3 years at university studying physics, I have been sitting physics exams every year for 7 years now. Multiple choice makes exams immeasurably easier... it thus comes as no surprise that I found a test designed for people much less educated in physics than me pretty easy.
'It would be significantly more worrying if 27,000 pounds being spent on 3 years at one of the best universities on this planet didn't prepare me to ace an admissions test for another university.’
One troll found out where Fraser lived in Oxford. Or so he thought. Writes Fraser, “One guy sent me a picture of my (old) university accommodation, saying they knew where I lived, and that he was going to shiv me....” (‘Shiv’, according to the Urban Dictionary is slang for knife or ‘any stabbing weapon, often homemade; think inmates with sharpened toothbrushes.’)
The word ‘surreal’ is one of the most misapplied words in the English language these days. But, think about it, this image is text book surreal: a mad coconut flying across cyberspace to assassinate an English student, armed with an improvised weapon--a sharpened toothbrush.
Quora trolls might think otherwise but the average Indian engineer who has cleared JEE is not god’s biggest gift to mankind.
In fact, the act of trolling is emblematic of a deeper affliction: a provincialism of the mind, which exaggerates the importance of a local entrance exam, making it the centre of the universe. The world couldn’t be bothered but the desi engineering provincial thinks: ‘Hamse hain zamana’.
Growing up, I always thought of engineering as a black hole that sucked you into its boundless infinity. These were kids with no childhoods to speak of. Aakash Institute, for instance, offers IIT-JEE coaching from standard seven. One starts when one is twelve years old.
As someone studying a classical liberal arts subject in Delhi University, I couldn’t help observe the contrasts. The ragging was perverse in engineering colleges, at times going on for all of the first year. The senior-junior relationship mirrored the entrenched caste system of an antiquated English public school.
While DU was listening to grunge, engineering students inhabited an unchanging hermeneutically-sealed aural universe, which began with the chronically depressive Pink Floyd and ended with the technical wizardry of Dream Theatre.
In between there was lots and lots of heavy metal. (Nothing wrong with this—just the formulaic way in which the musical boundaries were circumscribed. Few engineers got into British bands known for their acerbic social commentary like the Kinks, or Blur, or even the Beatles).
Empty brown shells make noise
What was even more disappointing was that after IIT, many of these engineers abandoned science for management and are now selling soap and toothpaste.
It turns out that unlike Fraser, who at least has genuine love for physics, Indian engineers got the degree just so that they could get themselves a cushy job with an MNC, a fat pay cheque and a fat dowry to match the pay check.
With the Rahman incident, as well as the cyber-lynching of Fraser, Indians have proved that they are incapable of being either loyal fans or good engineers, but they do make first-class trolls who work dedicatedly in pursuit of their dream of making India the world’s laughing stock.
Their reasoning is uncomplicated: if you cannot match up to the world, then drag the world down to your standards. To misquote Michelle Obama: ‘When they go high, we go low’. Perhaps colonialism is to blame: the white man ate the nourishing coconut meat and left us with an empty brown shell.
(The writer is a social commentator and the author of Eunuch Park & The Butterfly Generation)