Salman and Taslima Together Again

Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen both have chips on their shoulders – one choco-chip, the other butterscotch. Pick your flavour, but you get the drift.

They are also cross-bearers, Christ wannabes, every fatwa giving them just that extra mileage. It is strange, therefore, that when you’d expect them to be pretty much in the same groove, they end up grooving to inanities. That’s the gift of social networking – to create a fake ‘anti-thesis’ to what is not a thesis, to begin with.

For those who came in late – I did too – Salman Rushdie recently lost his Twitter virginity and while declaring it as a “madhouse” seemed to be ready for more action. For some reason, Taslima’s response was rather absurd:

"Salman Rushdie is begging everyone to follow him on Twitter. He'll feel embarrassed if he doesn't get a million followers. Be aware of Salman Rushdie! He wants to get girls in his 'whipped cream range'."

The creamy layers

Ms.Nasreen’s writing is nothing to write home about, unless you are translating from the Bangla into Pashto and then imagining it in English from the Edwardian era pretending to be Balti cuisine, which is quite Edwardian in its own way now.

Whether she likes it or not, Rushdie would get followers. This world is full of followers; even the leaders are, so having followers on Twitter is like running an ashram where you are judged by who is keeping tabs on your every utterance or exhaled breath. Rushdie would get them quite on merit, because his work has a genuine following.

That’s all there would be to it. But wait. Rushdie is also the man with a price on his head. Taslima wickedly construed that part of the anatomy with another and got into the girls-cream thing. How does she know about his “whipped cream range”? Hasn’t living with Padma Lakshmi, she of the foul mouth and fowl in the kitchen, taught him about healthy organic stuff? Whipped cream is so last simmer. And does it have a range? Can it act as a lure, a sort of dump pool in which women just dive blindfolded?

One would have imagined the ‘superior’ Rushdie to either be gentle, if not gentlemanly, about it, or ignore what is lame even as a jibe. Instead, he rose to the occasion, when there was none, an old habit.

"Somewhere in the distance I hear the envious miaow of #Taslima-Nasreen being catty about me. Tut, tut, Taslima. #Shame #Lajja."

This is the stuff that even tabloid journalism has grown out of. He spells meow wrong, but of course he knows that cats make those sounds. And he also knows the name of her book and his own. Why would a popular writer get so antsy about such a comment, and worse deem it envy? Is he alluding that she is envious of his talent, his spurt of followers on a networking site, his ability to get girls, or the whipped cream at his command? It is the tantrum of a little boy, and Sir Salman would be considered so very charming for having retained that little boy in him.

Tosh-Lima (as the Bongs say, and not how the Brits might legitimise the toshness of the Peruvian capital) is also in little girl mode:

"Big writers should hv a big heart. No reason to be 'envious'. It wasn't abt writing, it was abt 'whipped cream'."

Oh, geez, what about it? Why did she wait for him to ‘grace’ Twitter to say it? And what has his heart got to do with bigness, and how does she measure it anyway? Apparently, the whole Taslima riposte was about feminism. Although she did not specifically mention him, she has said:

"Sexist men r unappreciative, narcissistic, hateful who'll do anything on earth as long as it makes them think they're smarter than any female.”

Then how non-sexist is she when she assumes that women, who she is supposed to stand by, would follow for some creamy bait? Her feminism is not necessarily the only one. Some might want to know whether her own life is really how many women would like to live, not because they are constrained by social mores but because freedom has different connotations and they may not follow her version.

Handing it to herself
Many men are indeed sexist, and if they are not they can be narcissistic and hateful, the qualities that many might accuse Taslima of as well. Wasn’t it hatefulness that prompted her to start this puerile ‘sparring’? Isn’t she narcissistic when she believes that her ideas are sacrosanct, her writer self more important than many others, her stance towards fundamentalism the higher moral ground?

In fact, both of them are standing taller than they otherwise would precisely because of this higher ground. Rushdie’s mostly wonderful prose has definitely been overshadowed by his fatwa-ed persona. The same applies to Taslima.

Incidentally, reports are talking about how both of them took on the fundamentalists. They did not. They wrote what they wanted; it backfired because of the liberals who read it and pre-empted what they thought would most definitely result in a fanatical response. Maybe they are all in the marketplace together and need to feed off such horrible mullahism, never mind that Ayatollah Khomeini did not read Satanic Verses and whoever has read Lajja so carefully ought to get an all-expenses paid holiday to Dhaka via Geneva. 

I’d say Salman Rushdie and Taslima Nasreen qualify rather well as the liberal fanatics. Or shall we just say the mullahs of meow?

- - -

What's with these same-same types going on 'war'? Earlier I had looked at Arundhati and Anna: Same Saints


  1. As usual your mocking of these two is very witty and upon some reflection quite insightful. I just want to add if Rushdie saw this he would say she started it.
    Also while we are bashing men why stop at many? How about most? Thats how we are built any way, nothing we can do about it and in fact don't really want to do much about it. I would argue that what passes for Islamic Fundamentalism in the mind of most non Muslims is just an expression of male sexism that just takes some other form or an almost same form but looks different enough that allows them to claim how much more progressive or liberal they are.

  2. Same-same types going to war because THEY DONT WANT to be seen as the same as ANYONE else. They alone want to be the most woundedest martyrs. Textbook definition of narcissism. If only they would stick to their self involved twitting and spare us the bullshit.

  3. I think this is much more interesting:


  4. FV,

    QUOTE : "Ms. Nasreen’s writing is nothing to write home about.."

    So isn't yours, FV, except that you are extra deferential towards Quran and the Prophet (only) - which automatically makes it quality literature in view of some!

  5. Sai:

    Thank you. I did not see it as make bashing and people like Taslima do so when they depend on the male ideology to buffer their case. I think there is female sexism too.

    I would argue that what passes for Islamic Fundamentalism in the mind of most non Muslims is just an expression of male sexism that just takes some other form or an almost same form but looks different enough that allows them to claim how much more progressive or liberal they are.

    This is extremely perceptive. Patriarchy is the force behind most fundamentalism, and where women are involved they are almost desexualised. And even if religions have sexist connotations, the interpreters have made it worse by using ancient yardsticks to contemporary situations.

    Salman and Tasleema are part of the problem, not of the solution, for they make the fight personal and manage their PR with it.

  6. Meriam:

    Unfortunately, I read all this on the front page of the newspaper, so I wonder how the whole media is now relying on these gossip sessions.

    You are right. They want to hog the territory, therefore the war.


    I must have been a saint in my previous birth that I let you post a link that says that is more interesting. What have the two got to do with each other?

    Anyhow, am sure some readers found the link useful.


    Funny that you spend more time with me. Naturally,it won't be something to write home about then...I mean you just cannot wait...I understand the urgency my writing produces. Thank you.

    As for the rest, you've got to be kidding about deferential towards the Quran and Islam. It tells me where you are coming from, because I know where I am. And do not insult those who do appreciate some of what I write without always agreeing with me. They are not Islamists, although you might like to think so. Now, how about paying obeisance at the Nasreen altar? Oh, and hope you read her as much as you read me...

  7. No, it wasn't meant to disparage your post.

    What I meant was that Pataudi's biographocal essay so much less egotistical than these two.

    It didn't even occur to me that I was comparing it to your post. I will chalk it upto my nerdy-ness.

  8. FV,

    I make no claims about being a literary connoisseur! However, it is a fact that I read your blog very often - more so when the word 'Modi' appears anywhere in it! Perhaps you should start writing about Lalit and Sushil Modi too!

    I - and no doubt many others - can see clearly that your uncharitable opinions about these two individuals are entirely due to their so-called blasphemous writing and not because of any literary reasons. Please correct me if I am wrong!

  9. A correction in my previous comment: "These two individuals" refers to Taslima and Rushdie, not Sushil and Lalit Modi!!

  10. Hitesh:




  11. FV,

    You are talking about Rushdie and Taslima's literary merits (or absence thereof) simply to avoid taking a position on their supposedly blasphemous writings. I am tempted to draw an analogy about your pet hate Modi who, supposedly harps on development and Gujarati Asmita so as to evade the issue of riots.

    Same-same types on warpath?

  12. F&F:

    I do not need to use a literary ruse, Please read the stuff I have written on these two, mostly Rushdie. In this post too, here we are, a small sentence:

    >>In fact, both of them are standing taller than they otherwise would precisely because of this higher ground. Rushdie’s mostly wonderful prose has definitely been overshadowed by his fatwa-ed persona. The same applies to Taslima.<<

    I did forget to sneak in the word Modi, so I guess you missed the point.


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