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‘Dirty Harry’ And Other Jokes That Kill

From migrant labour to Sushant Singh Rajput, the arc of derision touches every Bihari, writes author and academician Tabish Khair

‘Dirty Harry’ And Other Jokes That Kill
Pataliputra Art | Photograph by Manoj Sinha
‘Dirty Harry’ And Other Jokes That Kill
outlookindia.com
2020-08-16T15:10:46+05:30

A sophisticated gentleman accosted me by name at a party in Delhi, as he had seen my picture in a newspaper or magazine. I had recently published my third novel, Filming: A Love Story, to some critical acclaim. He was obviously the kind of person who followed talk of literature and culture. He knew that before moving to Denmark, where I was then (and now) an academic, I had worked for the Times of India in Delhi. He asked me when I had graduated from JNU (Jawaharlal Nehru University), perhaps influenced by the slant of some of my writing. “I never went to JNU,” I replied.

“Ah,” he exclaimed, “You are a Delhi University alumnus!” “No,” I replied, pol­itely, “Didn’t go to DU either.”

There was a moment of hesitation, and then the gentleman, almost despite himself, offered a third alternative, this time probably influenced by my name: “Jamia?”

I had an almost identical conversation with a sophisticated lady at the Jaipur Literature Festival a bit later. I think...

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