It's strange to look at the class characteristics of the gay community in our cities.
In Calcutta, people ask you with tremulous breath whether you are, indeed, Bengali, and then say with an air of assured good fortune: O, you don't look
like a typical Bong! It would be so much better (for them) if you had been Marwari or Punjabi or Gujarati. In Chennai, if you're a Tamarind, it's met with a grimace: Kannadigas, Sri Lankans and the odd Bangalorean-down-for-the-weekend are 'preferred'. In Bombay, the Marathi gay boys have a reputation of being ghaati
, and are too easily associated with that seedy little gay bar down Gateway-side, Voodoo's
Delhi must be probably the only city in the country where being a so-called punjab da puttar
is viewed with favour - but only if you're tall, fair, have light eyes and hairy arms, and are non-Surd. The rest (especially Surds) are an alien species, denounced by the rest of Punjabigayland in Delhi.
Yudi in The Boyfriend
falls in love with a certain Milind Mahadik, a Dalit Marathi who lives in a chawl near Mahalaxmi. And the book critics in India hail it as a bitter-sweet reflection of caste politics in India. I don't know about caste-politics in India, but, yes, definitely in the gay world of amchi Mumbai
I haven't been around with many Marathi men, these past few months in Bombay, and I'm not exactly sure why. One Marathi guy I was chatting with online, suddenly thought that I had an unquenchable hatred towards Marathis, and he simply tuned off. For the life of me, I can't figure out what gave him that idea. And after that... no, there have been no Marathi men who have been in my bed or entertained me in theirs, other than that proverbial one night stand when it was raining and two horny gay men faced each other...!
Gujaratis, Parsis, Punjabis, Tamarinds, Bangaloreans, Bengalis, Sindhis, UPites, Goans, Anglos, yes. But no Marathis. Could it be because of the ghaati
Let's be honest. Ghaati
simply doesn't mean 'poor, low-class marathi mill worker' any more. It's become a nationalised term, meaning just about anything low-class, pretentious, or gawdy. (In Delhi, the corresponding term is LS,
from low society
.) However, try to explain that when you said ghaati
, you were talking about the poster on the wall and not the big burly Marathi wrestler in his chaddis
in front of you, and you won't have much success. Chances are, he'll hand you your balls in a neat black plastic bag.
And in some way, that has had its impact on the mindset of the gay Marathi man. He is naturally a bit shy to approach you or even respond to you, when it's known that you're not from 'these' parts. He'll smile shyly and perhaps even permit you to touch him, but he'll always have that nagging idea in his mind, wondering if you're calling him a ghaati
while you're screwing him.
Pause for thought.
Yesterday, I went out on a delightful date with a delightful young man (well, older than me!) who speaks and behave delightfully, and who is an Amte. He has dimples, he touches my hand, he rubs the insides of my leg, he whispers sweet nothings in my ear, and he doesn't seem to care a fig that he's Marathi and I'm... not from 'these' parts.
I'm hoping that things go further now. Like a true diva, I'm hoping that I can do my bit for fostering ethnic peace in this country.
Labels: being gay, bombay boy, travelogue