THE British may have lost their empire – on which the sun was never supposed to set – but they have still not lost their imperial itch. This happens to people who continue to live in the past. They have therefore retained all the bad habits of their imperial past, particularly at wedding and birthday parties, where they serve stale cucumber sandwiches and flat champagne, and turn the whole thing into a tourist jamboree, as they did last month.
There is nothing very special about the couple either. The bridegroom is a grandson of the queen, but she has other grandsons and they too will marry some day. This particular grandson, who will one day become king of his small island, is not a nuclear scientist or a Nobel laureate. He works in the air force and is a rescue pilot, which means that if tomorrow you happen to fall in the Bay of Biscay while crossing the Channel, this particular man will come with his helicopter and try to rescue you.
His wife’s family is equally less than distinguished. The father of the bride used to be a steward with an airline and the mother used to be an air hostess, perfectly respectable occupations, but nothing to make a song and dance about. In fact, the whole thing – the wedding and the people involved in it – is so ordinary that one wonders what is the big fuss about. But that is the British way of doing things – making a noise about themselves in order to attract tourists. But why do we Indians go ga-ga over their weddings?
Indian media, particularly the English language media, went overboard over the wedding, as if the wedding involved an Indian couple and was taking place in India. Actually, we had nothing to do with it. The TV industry went mad and played it up from morning till night, with a panoply of “experts” on tap. Experts on what? The wedding or the couple or the monarchy? There was no political angle to it, though there was a so-called political pundit roped in. He should be ashamed of himself. There was also a woman expert on the team, though she had nothing much to say. I doubt whether she has seen the inside of the Buckingham Palace, apart from the entrance, which you can visit any day on paying seven pounds, a lot of money to take a glance at the inside of possibly the ugliest building in Europe.
Why do we Indians still behave as if our fortunes were still linked with those of a faraway island called Britain? England is no more what she used to be. She is just a middling power, still trying to pose as if she had a place in the comity of nations. Moreover, the wedding was entirely a private affair of its monarchy which has come down in the world. yet our media goes ga-ga over it and “experts” discuss it seriously as if it was some kind of international event.
Indians, particularly, the English-speaking middle and upper classes, suffer from a terrible inferiority complex vis-à-vis the West, which means London and Washington and Paris. They still send their children to schools and colleges there, whence they return as little sahibs, with a job in a multinational company and a two-bed-room company flat in Mumbai or New Delhi. This is their whole ambition in life, just as the whole ambition of our media persons with chi-chi accent is to describe royal weddings and crow about the hats of females attending the wedding. Ask them about India, and they know next to nothing about what is happening in the country, because it is not really their country. Their heart is somewhere else, and their purse strings are also somewhere else. It is their misfortune that they are born in India and carry Indian names!
These people are not only pseudo-secular; they are also pseudo-Indian. Many of them, with a fake foreign accent, must be ashamed to call themselves Indian. In India, they are always seen in five-star hotels, with bills paid by business houses and their thugs. It is not an accident that they were so busy sucking up to the likes of Niira Radia, for a price, of course. Some of these media men—and women – who are seen haranging about corruption on the TV screens, have no compunction in making a little money on the side, for a price, of course. Give them a free ticket to London and a few pounds, and they will sing for you until kingdom come!
Our secular friends in India may or may not have noticed that the wedding was primarily a religious affair, and those who were involved in it were religious persons, like the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Dean of Westminster. I doubt whether our pseudo-secularists noticed it. The Westminster Abbey, where the wedding took place, is itself a Christian temple, and the entire proceedings were carried on in Latin, not English. Neither the queen nor any member of her family had any role in the wedding. The entire ceremony was religious in character, and only the priests had a role to play. None of the relations of the bride or the bridegroom played any part in it.
How many times do our pseudo-secularists, including the loud-mouthed tribe from the media, visit our temples? Have they ever been to the Birla temple in Delhi, or the Kali temple in Kolkata, or the Mahalakshmi temple in Kolhapur? Yet mention Westminster and their eyes shine and their hearts start fluttering. All the great sights in Europe, including St Peter’s Cathedral in Rome and the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, not to mention St Paul’s Cathedral in London, are Christian temples, temples of worship, where weddings are solemnised and so are funerals.
Our pseudo-secular friends, perhaps the most ignorant in religious matters, probably think that they are sites meant for tourists – and the usual crowd of voyeurs who flit from place to place talking loudly all the time. And these pseudo – secularists follow them, unmindful of the fact that they are actually visiting holy temples – venerable places of Christendom – without realising that they are in a religious place. Religion is still a big factor in the West, for everything important takes place in a church. The first thing Barack Obama did after being sworn in as President was to visit the National Cathedral in Washington for prayers.
Our secular loud-mouths are more interested in what the bride wore than the fact that she – and her groom – knelt before the altar before exchanging their rings!