What Taslima Nasreen thinks does not matter

Disclaimer: If your age is not suitable to consume adult jokes and abuses, please do not read this post. Do not recommend this post to those people.

Yesterday, Taslima Nasreen was scheduled to address a literary program in Kathmandu, Nepal. That’s when she tweeted,”My nepali friends, I missed my flight to go to Kathmandu today. I forgot to bring my passport as I didn’t consider Nepal a foreign country.”

It is the hallmark of South Asian population to be hypocritical. We are not comfortable with critical thinking. As long as somebody criticizes Islam, Hindus appreciate the “intellect” of that person, and start throwing stones as soon as the same “open-minded” person says something slightly unconventional about Hinduism. In Nepal, we also love people who criticize what we don’t like and start calling names as soon as somebody drops hints of being critical of our own prejudices. People of small countries have big egos. People of poor regions have rich prejudices. What Taslima Nasreen has faced for almost two-decades is a representative of this psychological trait we South Asians share.

This has been showed many times by the people of Nepal, India, Bangladesh and so on. Yesterday, after Nasreen’s tweet, there was a flurry of replies saying “how dare she not know about Nepal being an independent country.” But there were some tweets like this (by Editor Gunaraj Luitel) that showed agreement and sympathy to what Nasreen had said. I sent a few tweets too (more on that later) and moved on to other issues. Today morning, I found out that one twitter user (link might contain profanity) with no follower and no tweet used some foul words against Nasreen, citing which the writer decided to cancel her trip to Nepal (contains profanity). There were also some stupid reactions by news outlets like this which displayed their inferiority complex by writing what they wanted to hear: “she did not carry her passport thinking Nepal was part of India.”

In all this, I have a few thoughts I would like us to ponder about:

  • Upon being booed, Taslima Nasreen’s defense of her original tweet was something like this: I consider all of the world as my home, and want to travel everywhere freely. This is a great ideal and I’d love to enjoy it too. But I am sure she did not forget to carry her passport while traveling from Sweden to India or elsewhere. Is her ideal like a summer-dress, or just a pretense to ward of critics? If you have lived your life criticizing others, might be a good idea to be tolerant to some.
  • Passport is also an identification document, and if you have one, it is always good to carry. Unless you think you are too important and popular and would not need to produce any identification document. It helps avoid administrative hassles and unpleasant situations. That is a reason why many Indians and Nepalese carry their passports while traveling between India and Nepal, even though the people of two countries enjoy free travel into each others’ land.
  • The organizers of the program she was attending or the people who had arranged the writer’s trip should have informed her of such things: that a passport is not only helpful, but also essential.
  • The expression “I didn’t consider Nepal a foreign country” is more of an exposure of the size of Nasreen’s brain (pea or candy?) that she tries to hide by writing high sounding and irrelevant tweets on everything. Because she is so stupid as to remain unmindful of the political status of a country just 30 km away from her country of birth, she compensates by writing irrelevant and high-sounding tweets about almost anything. Just like small countries have big egos, small brains have the need to appear big and intelligent 🙂

Here is an example from earlier this year of how stupid Nasreen has become, riding the fame of her own success in stirring unnecessary controversies. Today, she is criticizing people for booing her about saying something carelessly about Nepal. In justification, she is tweeting intelligent sounding quotes and ideals. Let us look at this from July (don’t proceed if you don’t quality to consume locker room jokes):

(Picture credit: myassgeek.wordpress.com)

On Father’s day,  Chetan Bhagat, a celebrated Indian writer tweeted what he called an “engineering college hostel joke.” He later deleted the tweet, saying it was just a joke and asking for forgiveness.

(Picture credit: @punditcomment)

Let’s look at how Ms. Nasreen reacted:

C’mon- Ms. Nasreen- I think your ideals need some servicing. You can’t even tolerate a stupid joke and your hands are always itching to write pseudo-intelligent opinion on everything. This is so hollow, you know. You are obsessed with yourself- it is not fashionable to criticize everything, unless you are a sad humanity-hating soul. Sometimes, you can be stupid and careless- it’s ok. And it doesn’t harm to issue a sincere and simple apology. If you can’t even do that, you can keep your mouth shut. But sorry might be too hard a word to say, especially if your brain is not capable of it. Peace.

Maybe the requirement for harmonious living in the world should include: shedding off your self-perception of being an "important intellectual."

My views about Taslima Nasreen:

I was in middle school while a family member was reading the book “Lajja” and explaining its subject to me. I also read parts of it and liked the writer Taslima Nasreen for her critical view of the religion and country she was brought up in. She had criticized the atrocities against Hindus in Bangladesh and lamented how the dream of a secular Bangladesh envisioned by its founding father Sheikh Mujibur Rahman had been destroyed by the leaders of her society. Death threats were issued against her, leading to her exiled life in Europe and India. She has attracted many threats after being exiled too and sometimes angry crowd have disrupted her travel or public appearances in places like New York too. I’ve admired her bravery and courage to speak her mind.

She was literally driven away from her adopted home of Kolkata. Then, the Indian government protected her in New Delhi. She had to leave Delhi soon, and people in India frequently kept calling for an end to the government protection given to her. Controversy is not new to her, and maybe she has started to love it now.

I wasn’t offended or my “nationality” wasn’t hurt by what Nasreen tweeted. I have tweeted about it yesterday (1, 2, 3). I only feel sad for her.


Update: I’ve commented more of my views in two related posts on these blogs: Rant Bin and Chasing Zephyrus.


12 thoughts on “What Taslima Nasreen thinks does not matter

  1. one should follow her tweets to realize how insane she is. i jus wish she wont read this blog 🙂 (she wont get the underlying “adult” joke here)

  2. 1. Interesting post. Also very thoughtful disclaimer at the top.

    2. I personally think the whole episode could have been avoided if only Ms. Nasreen had apologized for her ignorance, instead of “didn’t consider Nepal a foreign country”.

    3. May be she really did forget her passport and thought it would be humorous (people have weird sense of humour) to tweet about her ignorance of Nepal’s sovereignty instead of her forgetfullness

    4. Off topic but, whats with the basnets all over, one attacks a journalist, another vows to protect him, and third tries to slam a female writer, with his asinine remarks. (म पनि बस्नेत नै हो . हत्तेरिका )

  3. Thank you for mention in Tweet and I am letting you know that I have read whatever written in this page. I appreciate you for showing huge culture of tolerance and not getting offended.
    At the same time, I would like to let you know that you can’t guide everyone’s reaction in same way. . . may be you are not a charismatic leader like Gandhi or Mandela on whose one call a group of Nepal tweeple will forget to get offended. What a group of Nepali tweeple tweeted or replied yesterday is categorically ‘popular feeling or sentiment’ and equally they can react the way they want because they are exercising their freedom in relation to something shared in public domain.
    I am offended because I have right to get offended. Whether I consider her tweet as an attack on my nationalism or not is a different issue but yes I m offended because she failed to meet a minimum standard of ‘reasonable person’.
    For rest if you really want to interpret what the tweet actually mean or what else it could connote or denotes, please read a proper book on ‘Laws of Interpretation’. Please get back to me- We’ll discuss at least 10 ways of interpretation and 10 ways of implication. Its not a point who is right? or who is wrong? Its a point who could be right and who could be more right?
    Thank you for your kind mention in tweet and highly regarded words in the blog. I appreciate you.

    • yes, absolutely. I don’t understand what was so shocking in the reaction of Nepali tweeples. People all over South Asia react similarly, otherwise Nasreen wouldn’t have to flee the region. And it is weird enough to cancel a visit based on the “threat” of a shady twitter user. Also, what about all those tweeples who had shown solidarity towards her? She is stupid, and I can’t repeat it enough.

      I didn’t understand why you wanted me to read the book ‘Laws of Interpretation’- for what reason?

  4. It is because you should know where does your argument stand? Before making huge proclamation like- ‘It is the hallmark of South Asian population to be hypocritical.’ or denying others view . . . You should know where do you stand? You supports intention and We support implications. No offence to any one and no violence . . . The point is with due respect one should know the existence of poly, meta and real reality. . . Simply we dont belong to same school of thought. That’s it.

    • I was only trying to express my opinion- not a scientific theory- the above are my opinions and can be refuted. I welcome you in refuting them. Just like you said you have the right to be offended, I am not obliged to write what feels correct for everybody.

      Also, I have not written anything about what I think about being offended- that is not the subject of this post. And I don’t think everybody should think in the same way- that’s why I mentioned that although some people had booed Nasreen, others had also supported her. That’s how it always is. It would be irrational for everybody to support Nasreen too. But as a general observation, I feel that a majority of people in South Asia have very un-critical thinking habits and almost non-existent sense of humor and the ability to criticize oneself. Again, I repeat that I am not saying everybody should be the way I want- this is just my personal opinion, and you are entitled to disagree or not reading it. But I enjoy rebuttals of my opinions and am ready to entertain them as long as they remain rational 🙂

  5. No book published in a while, little bit of controversy does help one to get in limelight. Doesn’t it? Maybe deliberate attempt or maybe sincere mistake … but she wins with all the publicity and attention. बाँकी चाही बाल …

  6. nice post with pertinent tweet samples 😉 …had she apologized in the second tweet ..our sensitive Nepali “patriotic” tweepals would not have done that(hope).. Nepali culture of showing nationalism in this kind of situation have established themselves great in many times(hate) .. I remember the day so called “Rhitik Roshan’s protest in KTM against his expressions against Nepalese ” …Nasareen’s South Asian Women type tweet added petroleum in the fire … 😉 they are surely not up to her level as she is an internationally reputed writer … it’s better if we set our operation mode to “set and forget ” and then continue ..

  7. I once forgot my admit card to an entrance exam and I was too perplexed to think about anything. Taslima stayed cool and she was able to think and tweet. Well, I liked what she wrote there.

  8. Pingback: Nepal: The Taslima Nasreen Controversy · Global Voices
  9. Agree with ankur, Taslima sure knows how to whip up controversy. Just look at her tweet about a likely fatwa and her books being burnt. I mean seriously? There must be at most 10-15 hate tweets which she might have got, out of which one was profane, but she got dozens and dozens of tweets defending her by Nepalis. What about those? She proclaims herself to be an empowered woman, a feminist and now she is playing victim here? I slightly disagree with ushaft when he says she is stupid. Ms Narseen , to the contrary, is so smart that she spinned a careless remark and a stupid response it generated to a media uproar. Helps a lot, when you haven’t publised in the last couple of years.

    Lets forget Ms Nasreen for a while and give the lady a break, the lady has gone through so much in life, an exiled existence, numerous fatwas and so on. But then whats with our own Mr and Ms oh-so-important and know-it-alls here? The way they were lapping up Nasreen, appeasing her, apologising to her on behalf of the sun, moon, rain and sundry, saving Nepal’s face as they say. So very typical. I don’t bother saving Nepal’s face. I have better things to do. People like me who work, pay their taxes duly, earn some honest money don’t have that guilt-ridden conscience. I am a Nepali, I don’t care if anyone tweets Nepalis sell their mothers and daughters in market (actually this is true). There are all kind of crazy people in the world. I can’t afford giving a shit about everyone.

    More than those ultra-nationalists, who I can only pity for their ignorance, I hate this self-styled crop of Nepal’s ‘liberal, US-returned, cosmopolitan jerks’. You are slaves, go and lick the soles of foreigners. There was white-worshipping first, now its yellow, brown, red, black;, anything but a Nepali. Shame.

    And on a final note, whoever wrote that piece on republica, good fodder for a column yeah? And a chance to get on the good books of Madame Nasreen. You Ms Thapa along with Nasreen are the most responsible for fanning this controversy. You kept on pursuing it long after others had stopped. If anyone made look Nepal bad, its you, flooding the timeline, keeping a dead issue alive.

    Get a life and yes a geography textbook too. Looks like Nasreen is not the only one who may need it, as few argued. Ms Sradda Pradhan Thapa, for your kind information, Nepalgunj and Rupandehi are hundreds of miles apart. You probably meant Rupaidiya, and yes I am not going to burn tyres over it.

    Like I said, I don’t care much. 🙂

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