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An old RC ruminates on his ‘Pseudo-Secularist’ roots: Hartman de Souza

Guest post by HARTMAN DE SOUZA

The background and context to this not-so-enigmatic title is very simple. By today’s standards, I am old – I get a hefty discount travelling by train which I am still hooked on, and I am still counting the years and sniffing my coffee. The ‘RC’ is a lot simpler:

Travelling by train from Mumbai to Delhi many, many moons ago, a man in the compartment, in his thirties, got into conversation with me. After I had answered his opening bullet shot questions – You are from? You are doing what? Your father is doing what? – he told me I spoke English like a ‘foreigner’.

I was still fresh from Kenya those days, where I was born, so I got a lot of grief from having a different accent that no one could place.

This was of course much, much before you could study for an undergraduate degree in India (where you were born) and then, if you had the means and the SATs, go and study in the US for a few years. There, in the land of beef and honey, as we now note with pride, many Indians also discovered the ‘free market’ and their ‘authentic’ Hindu roots – then came back to spew communal venom with a makeshift American accent and the dollars to back it.

As if it was stamped on my bloody forehead, he then asked: “You are Christian?” He pronounced this as “Kir-tchin’.

I pretended I hadn’t heard. So he repeated the question. I nodded, hoping he would disappear and let me get on reading my book.  He did not. Instead had a broad grin on his face, like he knew in which bag he could drop me in.  “You are RC!” he said, almost triumphantly.

For a few seconds, he almost had me stumped. I raised my eyebrows.

Ro-maan Catholic,” he offered.

I shook my head and smiled back. “No,” I replied “Retired Catholic…”

He didn’t get the joke. Guys like that still can’t. Continue reading An old RC ruminates on his ‘Pseudo-Secularist’ roots: Hartman de Souza