Hello! My name is Joel Swine and I write for Schtime magazine in Switzerland. Recently I traveled back home and I experienced some reverse culture shock. [NYT]
p.s. Much thanks to my evil American alter-ego for providing the inspiration for this post. [Time]
I am in favor of tourism everywhere except in Engelberg, Switzerland. It appears a small church in my town was featured in a Bollywood movie called “The Brave Heart Will Take the Bride”. The mostly white rural town I left is now teeming with lovestruck Indian couples reenacting scenes from their favorite movie.
Vishal and Jagruti Purohit had traveled here from Mumbai, India, on their honeymoon, but they had a greater mission: to find the small village church that provided the backdrop for a scene in their favorite movie, a 1995 Bollywood blockbuster called “The Brave Heart Will Take the Bride.”
Heck, even though they are mostly Hindus, these Indians, who besides showing us how to reboot our computers, show up in our churches where some scenes of this DDLJ (Braveheart bride blah blah) movie were filmed. Why can’t they pray to their gods with multiple arms and an elephant nose and a dozen vowels at the end of their names?
In the scene, two young Indians, played by Mr. Purohit’s favorite actor and actress, see their love seeming to come to an end. She kneels and prays, while he cavorts in the dark, neo-Gothic church. In the end, she breaks off an engagement and he wins her hand.
My town is totally unfamiliar to me. The alpine slopes where I used to ski have been replaced by teems of Bollywood wannabes striking poses for their Patel snaps (why not Singh or Reddy or Iyer snaps, IDK).The Indian tourists, who come mostly in summer, has doubled in the last decade. I suspect they come in summer because Indian people can’t ski.
“In June, the Zurich newspaper Tages-Anzeiger featured an article with the headline Into the Luxury Hotel with a Gas Cooker, noting that in some hotels an entire caste of guests is no longer desired: the Indians. The article catalogued the complaints of hotel managers: guests who cook curry dishes on camping stoves in their rooms; guests who use bath oils that blacken tubs; guests who book for a husband and wife, only to show up with the entire family.”
I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in Switzerland to visit. Must be the lure of their crappy Bollywood movies
“shot on location in this country’s high Alpine meadows, around its serene lakes, and in its charming towns and cities to convey an ideal of sunshine, happiness and tranquillity”.
First came one of their most overrated and successful directors, Raj Kapoor, to film his movie called Sangam. He was followed by an equally overrated and successful director, Yash Chopra, who apparently while losing his virginity on his honeymoon promised his wife
“that every movie he made would have to have one romantic song or scene in Switzerland”.
Ever since, every time he makes a movie, he gets a do-over on losing his virginity by interjecting
“dream scenes in which lovers dance or romp on Alpine meadows strewn with flowers or roll in the snow in unlikely flimsy Indian garb on wintry slopes”.
in his movies.
Then came their not-so-bright Bollywood cousins and the Indian tourists and we started to understand why India is full of slumdogs.
That’s it for this article. The “Braveheart will take the Bride” movie reminds me that the local cable channel is running a Mel Gibson marathon and I’ve to brush up on my bigotry.
Über Desi responds: We sincerely regret that any of our readers were upset by this humor column of Joel Swine’s. It was intended to cause offense and since it worked we suggest you Indian people resort to Gandhigiri and send us flowers.
Joel Swine responds: I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I’m a no-talent assclown and even the presence of “clown” in my title in not indicative of the lack of humor in my writing works. I have a penchant for penning rambling articles that are likely to offend many, regardless of comedic effort, so I would like to offer my lame apologies.