• Kuzhali Manickavel

Conversations- okbai.

Updated: Aug 5, 2020

Before getting into the Conversations, just wanted to say that this is my last column with The New Indian Express. We are unfortunately no longer a couple but we remain the best of friends and hope the media will respect our privacy at this difficult time. I may continue the Conversations here on the blog and use more bad werds in them but it will probably be way more sporadic or they may die away completely and give rise to other new and exciting things. Who can say? And now, at the risk of sounding like an Academy Award acceptance speech, I want to thank all peepals who read the column and told me what they thought of it, even if they thought it was all a bleddynahnsense. Special shout-out to those who took the time to comment on the column on this blog, you are all awesome terrorist peepals and I am appreciating you.



K- You’re talking about the underwear, right?

S- What?

K- Hipster. You’re talking about the underwear, yes?

S- No.

K- Really? Wow.

S- I’m scared to ask what you thought that whole ‘hipster racism’ conversation was about.

K- It wasn’t about racist underwear?

S- No, the hipsters I was talking about are a kind of American. Or they’re mostly American. Or something. I’m not really sure what they are.

K- You talk about Americans way too much. I bet Americans don’t talk about you half as much as you talk about them.

S- I can’t help it, I’m Indian. I love talking about how cultureless and depraved America is but I will sell my children for the chance to go there and work in a convenience store.

K- India clearly needs more convenience stores.

S- Anyway, I want to know about these hipster people. Because apparently, they say racist things but they say those things because they’re NOT racist. Isn’t that interesting? K- Not as interesting as replacing the word ‘racist’ with ‘slow jogger’. Let’s do that!

S- I mean, how are we supposed to know these hipsters are not racists?

K- ‘I mean, how are we supposed to know these hipsters are not slow joggers?’ Hey, that’s neat! S- Maybe they have some kind of special ID.

K- Who cares? We live in India! Who cares about slow jogger underwear Americans?

S- But what if one of them came here?

K- They’ll get loose motion and go home.

S- Oh my God.

K- What?

S- I just remembered this show I saw where they described a dance as having very loose motion.

K- Oh my God.

S- I know! I couldn’t watch the rest because ‘loose motion’ seemed to be a very popular way of describing this particular form of dance. Anyway, I’m going to go figure out this hipster racism thing.

K- Please do. American hipster racism is such a flabbergastingly serious problem in India.


S- Maybe you can’t appreciate the awesomeidiosyncrasy of American hipster racism because you’re Indian. Let me Indianize it for you.

K- Let me guess. You’re going to neatly replace ‘racism’ with ‘casteism’. Because racism and casteism are EXACTLY the same.

S- Yes.

K- Are you on drugs? Seriously, are you?

S- Look, what would you do if an American hipster came here and said something racist to you and you retaliated because you didn’t know that person was actually not racist?

K- I wouldn’t retaliate at all. I’d shake them down for money.

S- What?

K- Seriously, I do that to all the foreigners I meet.

S- Even the NRIs?

K- Especially the NRIs.

S- Let me guess. You sell them those yellow cloth bags for twelvtythousand rupees.

K- That’s so Old Skool. I sell them pieces of extremely low quality paper and say it’s handmade by Indian slum children who have no hands.

S- That is so wrong.

K- It really is, considering that the paper actually comes from cheapud half-quire note.

S- The low quality paper probably makes it more authentically Indian.

K- One time I told this guy that I had sold my kidney and needed money to buy it back. I even showed him a scar.

S- Oh, that’s good.

K- Yeah, that was awesome because the scar was actually on my arm. But it all worked out in the end.

S- I think being mean to foreigners and NRIs is racist.

K- I think being mean to foreigners and NRIs is a slow jogger!

S- These conversations are racist.

K- These conversations are a slow jogger!

S- I think I should go.

K- Are you coming back? S- No. Are you?

K- No.

S- okbai. K- okbai.

an edited version of this appeared in The New Indian Express Zeitgeist Supplement, Multiverse, Conversations, July 31, 2010