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Keyur Shah wasn't happy with the stereotypical image of a Gujarati that he saw in Bollywood films. "We are more than just fafda, dhokla, kem cho and su cho!" exclaims the 19-year-old from Mumbai. It sparked in him a fire to start Gujju Tips (https:// www. facebook. com/gujjutips), a page on Facebook that highlights the eccentricities of members of his close and extended family.
Each 'tip' is advice for an outsider on how to behave like one of the clan. While meant to educate, it's difficult to escape the lure of caricatures and the tips quickly become good-natured inside jokes. Take, for instance, Shah's dig at the accents of his community, or trying to turn anyone into a relative to get a better deal:
Gujju Tip #66: We go to the movie hole and take outside snakes for refreshment Gujju Tip #96: Every autowala, taxiwala, grocerywala, chaiwala is our 'kaka
Tips are the latest Facebook craze, with a host of virtual groups posting one-liners to make communities laugh unabashedly at their own idiosyncrasies and traits. Some of the most active groups include Bong Tips, Sindhi Tips, Marathi Tips, Bohri Tips and PaoTips.
THE BAWAS WHO STARTED IT ALL
Celebrating the oddities of one's group originally started with Canadian website, BroTips, but was quickly brought to India. And who's better at laughing at themselves than the Parsis? In July last year, Mumbai-based Victor Daruwala and Hormuz Bana founded the viral hit BawaTips (https:// www. facebook. com/bawatips).
"The page, in a way, got people from the community together. Now an active group of those who met online regularly meet up offline too, " says Daruwala, a promo producer with a music channel.
Some of the tips are a play on Gujarati words that mean something completely different in English, while others are the quintessential qualities that make a bawa a bawa. Yup, food gets a lot of love here. Sample this:
BawaTip #14: Before KFC, there was chicken farcha BawaTip #43: It's okay to burp loudly, we only want to say how much we loved the food
FROM ASSAM TO PUNJAB
"We are not just about small eyes and hard rock... we are much more than that, " jokes Bhringraj Hazarika, who founded Assam Tips (https:// www. facebook. com/AssamTips) to 'promote and celebrate the unique cultural awesomeness of the state of Assam'.
Hazarika, currently in Ahmedabad studying for a Masters degree, was inspired to start the group when classmates grew curious about his culture. He collaborated with Kaushika Hazarika, an NRI with roots in Assam. Based in Australia, she helps him edit the tips, mixing information with humour to convey local sights and sounds.
Assam Tip #59: Why do you bring water every time I ask for Lao Paani? (Assamese for rice beer) Assam Tip #76: 60% of people cook their food in Engine Oil. Don't panic, it's the name of the brand
Meanwhile, four Mumbai-based Punjabis are bringing the stereotype of their hearty and boisterous clan to virtual life. Managed by Angad Singh Manchanda, the Punjabi Tips page (https:// www. facebook. com/punjabitip) has gone viral with over 15, 000
Likes on Facebook in less than two months. Today, they get tip suggestions from fans spread across 33 countries. "We upload user-generated content that is quirky, giving credit to the person who suggests the tip, " says 24-year-old Manchanda, who is helped by Satwik Khanna, Nishtha Kanal and Esha Matta. Gems include:
Punjabi Tip #2: When we say Cloney we don't mean George Clooney. It might mean Defence Cloney Punjabi Tip #33: Whether you're a boy or girl, for your parents you're puttar
ARCHIVING CITY SECRETS
From communities to localities, most of the bigger Indian cities are represented in their own Tips meme: Bangalore Tips, Mumbai Tips, Lucknow Tips, Hyd Tips, Nagpur Tips, etc.
At just 17 years, Tushar Sagar is one of the youngest of these satirists. "The purpose of the group is to share facts and the awesomeness about my city, " says the boy who started Delhi Tips (https:// www. facebook. com/DelhiTips1), which tickles the funny bone with wisecracks like...
Delhi Tips #19: 2 boys on a black Pulsar? Yeah, hide your phone and gold chain Delhi Tips #24: Ye cheez, 'Chandni Chouk' (Purani Dilli) mei half-rate mei milti hai. Tell everyone. Everyday
It's all about a feeling of belonging for the city, whether you live there any more or not. Take, for instance, the case of the popular Kolkata Tips (https:// www. facebook. com/Kolkatatip). The page's founder Debajyoti Roy is a software developer in
Bangalore, who describes tips as "minor occurrences that we come across everyday but tend to ignore". And his biggest fan lives in Delhi, but loves her City Of Joy. "I like reading the tips because they tell you things only a true Kolkatite would know, " says Sudipta Basu, listing a few favourites:
Kolkata Tip #15: If you want to date a Kolkata girl, you have to love Fuchhka Kolkata Tip #24: If you don't find a book on College Street, it probably does not exist
And while most tips get Shares and Likes, there are some that generate controversy too. Staying on the safe side, admins of these communities have posted disclaimers such as, "This page is not meant to hurt anyone. It's just an honest effort to bring a smile on your face through witty one-liners about our culture and life. We don't want to promote a division among Indians as a nation. "
TAKING IT FURTHER
Cashing-in on the popularity of their tips, owners of some groups have started merchandising their quirkiness by printing tips on tees. Keyur Shah and Zubin Sheth, the admins of the Gujju Tips community, have started a new website where they allow fans to order T-shirts with their favourite one-liners. "We've printed 13 designs, " says Shah. Those to find favour among patrons include:
Gujju Tips #68: Chaas is our beer. Cheers! Gujju Tips #44: We can do garba on Summer of 69 Gujju Tips #106: Masala Chai is our Red Bull
"About 270 people have already sent us messages saying that they want the T-shirts, " says Manchanda of Punjabi Tips. BawaTips have their own tees too, and now are adding a funny music video to the mix. "The song is just an extension of the Facebook group, " says Daruwalla, describing the spoof called 'I'm bawa and I know it' that plays to the tune of 'I'm sexy and I know it'. For those looking to sample the video, be warned: It's peppered with colloquial cusswords in Parsi Gujarati, giving you cultural eccentricities in their purest, uncensored format.
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