Having had the privilege of growing up in Dubai in the 1990s, Bikram Vohra’s satirical humour provided me with a good dose of weekly entertainment. His dose of irony and wit would appear regularly in our newspaper those days.
His anecdotes about his life, his family and friends provided much mirth during my monotonous school years. I was delighted to note that his life seemed to appear as one thrilling roller coaster ride with hilarious and interesting incidents. From my boring adolescent existence, he seemed to be forever having a great time!
After few years of enjoying his hilarious articles, I was a trifle disappointed when he no longer wrote those eagerly weekly articles.
Last year, I was pleasantly surprised to see him back in action. Impressive, creative and sharp as ever, he caught my attention with his full-throttled efforts to define a Mamamouchi. This novel word’s fascination for me lay in its sound as much as what it meant.
The word, Mamamouchi” is known to be derived from the Arabic language. Meant to convey a person who is apparently good for nothing, it is a term also used to describe someone who is ridiculously pretentious, pompous and conceited.
It gained attention and prominence through French Playwright and actor Moliere’s famous French comedy play, “Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme” (The Bourgeois Gentleman). Moliere’s stinging satirical dig at the frivolous race to elevate status in society. The play won great acclaim when it was first performed in 1670. The term, “Mamamouchi” was introduced as a word that appears to convey importance but in reality, made a hilarity of the receiver. In the comedy play, the gentleman who was the recipient of this honour was Monsieur Jourdain, who unwittingly gets tricked by Cleonte, who is seeking Jourdain’s daughter’s hand in marriage. Jourdain’s ludicrous attempts to appear as a true aristocrat, sees him tricked royally by Cleonte. Being a rich and impressionable social climber that he is, Jourdain considers it a great honour to receive the imaginary pompous title, “Mamamouchi” from none other than a supposed Turkish Sultan.
In 1672, English Playwright, Edward Ravenscroft, wrote an English adaptation of Moliere’s comedy play, titled “The Citizen turn’d Gentleman”. “Mamamouchi” thus, entered the portal of English Language through this adapted version.
Many of us, are guilty of merely making a judgement from what appears obvious to us. How many times has our judgment led us to turn away from knowing and helping people the way we could? Are we prepared to look beyond mere appearance and seek what makes each person special and full of potential?
Coming back to the characteristics of a classic Mamamouchi, if we are to consider a person as someone not fit to do anything worthy, it would be our loss.
Imagine if someone makes a false assumption regarding us purely based on what we are not able to do well?
Considering an individual as worthless and capable of nothing significant is ironically a belief that harms the bestower as much as the person who is termed a Mamamouchi. It is a negative attitude that affects happiness and growth, makes the bestower oblivious of their own flaws and be blissfully presumptuous.
So, who in reality becomes a Mamamouchi?