being brown

Chomsky and Prada: The fun in stereotypes

Who wants to be Prada?

Who wants to be Prada?

“Do you realize? To dad, you are Chomsky and I am Prada”, said my sister A.

Chomsky, A Caricature by Iain Harrison

Chomsky, A Caricature by Iain Harrison

My father  had just asked her for some fashion advice over my head. Earlier in the day when he asked me for some political opinion, I had provided it. And this was what prompted my sister to make this observation.

Neither of us were flattered by the compartments my father had, oh so conveniently, set us down in. A didn’t want to be just a fashion house . And I, definitely, didn’t want to be compared to an ageing geek (no offence to either the ageing or the geeks).  But this wasn’t new to us. When I showed faint interest in History during high school, my desk was inundated with history books. When I studied Literature in college, all the English novels that my father bought, found their way to my room. And when A studied Math, everything to do with mathematics were delivered to her table. Once, in a fit of passionate protest, A took all the novels to her room and I was left with books on science and mathematics. The mother was not excluded from this bracketing exercise. When she did a course on Instructional Design, she found many books on ID on her work space. Sometimes, the straitjacketing can be complimentary. My father appreciates A’s wit and humour so much that he calls it a ‘brand’.

But all this says something significant about stereotypes. And no it isn’t that they are here to stay. That we all know. But, more importantly, stereotypes are caricatures. And caricatures are fun. But that’s also all they are.


17 responses

  1. Ayun


    February 27, 2012 at 6:51 pm

  2. Ayun

    What about offence to Chomsky himself?

    February 27, 2012 at 8:14 pm

    • sumanyav

      i just thought that Chomsky wouldnt take offence at being called a geek. It is, after all, a compliment.

      February 27, 2012 at 10:34 pm

  3. Hahaha….enjoyed reading this post! 😀

    February 27, 2012 at 8:30 pm

    • sumanyav

      knew you would! 😀

      February 27, 2012 at 10:42 pm

  4. Sid

    It is also an interesting reflection of how you are perceived. It might also mean to your dad you are the Epitome of Intellect and A the Epitome of Fashion…..:)

    February 27, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    • sumanyav

      thats just the kind of stereotyping, A and I fight him about

      February 27, 2012 at 10:43 pm

  5. I had a hearty laugh reading this !

    Reminds me of the gifts that my brothers and I received as gifts. One brother would recive books and the other brother games. I would get a mix of girly stuff and books. The day I asked for a toy jeep was when the fun began. “A jeep?” asked my parents. “A jeep?” asked my grandparents. The questioning chorus continued amongst the family. The solution: I was presented with a game of chinese checkers ! “But it’s not a jeep,” I pouted. “It’s better than a jeep,” I was told. And that’s that.

    March 1, 2012 at 3:18 pm

    • sumanyav

      ha ha ha ha! chinese checkers instead of a jeep! that is so hilarious and so typical.

      these are what i call ‘small stereotyping’……and to me they are nothing more than a joke. but one wonders how much of this pervades people’s attitude and leads to the ‘more dangerous’ stereotyping.

      March 1, 2012 at 8:06 pm

  6. Interesting Read:)

    March 17, 2012 at 8:04 pm

    • Thanks Rahul! Welcome to my blog. and do come again

      March 17, 2012 at 9:50 pm

  7. Hahahaha this is a brilliant post. Hilarious. I found myself visualising ‘A’ throwing her hands up in the air after being branded as a fashion house and also storming off with all your books. the streak of protest, scathingly critical satirical humour is of course a patent. So there, I agree with your dad. Stereotypes – I am actually very interested in. It’s interesting that you compared them with caricatures. At one level, that is true, but the generic nature of their operation, I think, for me – makes it more than that. Sometimes, I think , stereotypes are important. Of course, they become problematic and dangerous when acted upon and even when applied to communities and religious groups violently. There is a very interesting theoretical idea proposed by gadamer – where hbe looks at a positive conception of prejudice. This comes in the context of knowledge, history, understanding and tradition. How we form social relationships and look at various things through a dialogi understanding is woven into his framework. It’s a damn interesting notion. It has liitle to do with your post. But the stereotype thing you said at the end got me thinking 🙂

    May 28, 2012 at 10:15 am

  8. 🙂 thanks Teevramadhyam! i too enjoyed writing this one.

    I actually don’t think what you are saying is wholly irrelevant to what i am saying in this post. I too believe that prejudices are inevitable. Because human comprehension is all about categorizing, prototyping, forming schemas etc. I think the problem is when these categories become rigid. Super interesting stuff.

    May 28, 2012 at 12:49 pm

    • P.S. you do realise that I am Ajinkya. right? the boy who you encountered once at janfest. so I’m visualising ‘A’ throwing her hands up in the air and storming off etc. not because I’m some weird perverted stalker. but because I know her! 😛

      May 28, 2012 at 12:53 pm

  9. also the image of ayun as prada is quite funny!

    May 28, 2012 at 12:57 pm

  10. yes, of course, Jinx! i thought the whole point of the name ‘teevramadhyam’ was to protect your identity. So used it instead!

    yeah! Ayun herself could make a great comic character. add to that a Prada persona, the whole thing would be hilarious. I think Prada and Chomsky would make a great sit com!

    May 28, 2012 at 1:05 pm

  11. yup anonimity and all was supposed to be it. But i’m just learning the ropes of this thing. So I wasn’t sure about all the protocol and jazz. but good fun )

    May 30, 2012 at 7:23 am

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