Freudian Slap
By Kamal Sunavala

I am not certain how much presence this story has in the Czech press but in India it certainly made the rounds as ‘odd news.’ Three leading English dailies in Bombay featured the story of the Goat versus Freud. One of the links is at the bottom; interesting read when you’re in the bathroom.

People who know of my Prague connection mentioned it to me in passing, some commenting that clearly Czechs were as petty as Indians. I cannot disagree. They share a ridiculous sensibility about monuments and statues, loosely termed as patriotism. Whether it is erecting one, naming one, renaming one, demolishing one, painting one, defacing one, preserving one or selling one, they focus on the issue with such seriousness that one has to wonder about the sanity of the country. Imagine if that same level of civic opinion, thought and consideration were devoted to matters of gravity which could seriously affect the future of society at large, how much both these countries could accomplish. There are burning issues of justice in India which demand several referendums and public participation but are met with clear apathy or a near-Gallic shrug. Czechs couldn’t be bothered for six months to elect a proper government and couldn’t care less as long as the repo rate was steady. But mention a statue and both are on high alert. When India started demolishing statues of British gentlemen after independence, replacing them with statues of Indian gentlemen who won freedom for the country, it was a matter of collective pride. Today, most of these statues are an excuse to riot and shut down a city. Bloodshed in the name of defending whom you choose to honour.
Czechs have possibly not reached that stage yet and I hope they never do but what did tickle my curiosity was why this particular story made it to the Indian press. Was it a sense of hapless identification? Was it just a funny story that deserved to be told? Do we all just hate people who speak German? Do we all care more about statues than actual democracy? Or is it a harbinger of a less forgiving society? I don’t know who should feel more insulted- The goat or Herr Freud.

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