Dear () :
First, allow me to congratulate you on your excessively clever handle. Normally, I’d be jumping out of my chair like the little cartoon man who signifies “stellar!” for the San Francisco Chronicle’s arts reviews, out of appreciation of your FANTASTIC taste in music, but I am almost 99.9% certain that you weren’t paying tribute to a three-year old release from Sigur Ros with the whole empty parentheses schtick.
Second, allow me to even more sarcastically congratulate you on your attempt at incisive commentary, issued in support of the link you wanted to tip us to…ouch, I think it gave me an owie:
Islamic terrorists attack IISc in Bangalore and shoot a professor dead. Such beautiful gift from our loving South Asian brothers deserve a mention on this blog….or perhaps you’d choose to bury your head in the sand and pretend that this doesn’t/didn’t/won’t happen.
This trifling game is getting so old, I can pay a premium for it (still in the original box! mint!) on eBay. This Mutiny is brown. We like the term “South Asian“. We write about stuff that happens in the countries that surround India. We care. If you don’t, then that’s unfortunate. Getting snide in an ANONYMOUS tip isn’t going to change our minds, surely you had to be aware of that. If not, let this “musing” of mine clue you in: inclusiveness is how we roll, even though every one of our parents once had an Indian passport and exactly eight dollars in their pocket, upon landing at JFK. Speaking of that now legendary phrase–”eight dollars (in my hand)”– which my much-loved Father shouted on an every-other-day basis as a counterpoint to my spendthrift proclivities, my Daddy is the reason why I am a hard-core South Asian. Oh, and if you’re not sure what I’m referring to with my magic eight bawl, apparently my father (and several other Uncles etc) weren’t allowed to just stroll in the country with benjamins in their money clips. For whatever reason, my exhausted, anxious father had just that odd and small sum on him when he landed in New York, walked to a coffee shop in the airport, paid $0.50 for a single cup of kappi and then nearly fainted as one-sixteenth of his net worth left his hands in exchange for a tiny caffeine rush.
Two-and-a-half decades later, when he heard that I spent $2.50 on a cappuccino at Stanford, during a JSA one-day conference where I debated something foreign policy-y, he yelled at me for close to an hour about my extravagance, converting the sum to rupees and that most hallowed currency of all, the original eight dollars which created my family on American soil. “$2.50? $2.50! When I came to this country, I paid a fifth of that princely sum for a cup of coffee and my hands shook! Brazen girl! Are you the Maharani of Travancore? Have you no shame? Almost three dollars– for COFFEE! ende devam-ay, this one and money, it just falls through her hands…” I got a phenomenal Braun espresso machine for Christmas that year (1990), as my father grumbled that I would never get robbed for caffeine again.
Where were we? Ah yes, why my father made me a South Asian. When I was a wee thing, I got a globe for my sixth birthday from a very close Uncle. Fascinated, I noticed that there were “tropics” for both my and my father’s astrological signs, but not my mother or sister’s. I realised, for the first time, that America was a very big place. And I saw that India was very far away from San Francisco. My father found me peering at the “kite” and smiled with amusement. “What are you looking for?”, he asked. “Thiruvilla!” I exclaimed. Carefully, Daddy drew a tiny dot with a permanent marker, near the south-western coast of the kite. “There.” I kept studying, until I finally decided that India was a very big place, too. Daddy got a hazy look on his face and sighed. “It used to be even bigger.” Then he pulled me on his lap and told me about how maps were arbitrary and the lines which defined them weren’t drawn with the sort of marker he still held in his hand.
I asked him about my Montessori preschool teacher, who looked just like one of my Aunts. “She’s from Ceylon. She’s just like us. Remember when she came for tea? How it sounded like she was speaking Malayalam? She was speaking Tamil, which is one of the languages Malayalam is based on…Tamil is what your cousins in Madras speak, remember?” I wasn’t following. “So she’s Indian like us?” He replied negatively, but hesitated. “Not really. Not officially. Ceylon is a different country. But that doesn’t matter. She taught you the same way I was taught at Syrian Christian Seminary. She was tough and she understood that we appreciated that.” I glowered at him. When people at Montessori weren’t looking, she had pinched my ear once or twice, with my parents’ adoring blessing. “The thing is, edi…we are more similar than different. In this country, no one cares if you were rich back home, or if you were a Brahmin, or if you came from one side or the other of Punjab, because part is here in India and the other is there in Pakistan…you’re just a foreigner. Maybe your children won’t be considered such, but by then, who knows how many countries this will be,” he concluded, fingers lightly tracing the subcontinent. “Be proud to be Indian, but don’t think that makes you better or different from your teacher or your Uncle Nasir. They aren’t Indian exactly, but in this country, that doesn’t matter and it never will.”
Dear Santa, Gosh it’s good to be Orthodox. I get your full attention now that you’re done with that OTHER Christmas.
I haven’t published a “list” this year, but I think I know what I want: I want tolerance, respect and compassion. Musing all this blogginess has convinced me that THOSE are things I really could use. Sometimes, I feel like the random, mildly offensive Amreekans who compliment me on my flawless English are kinder than other brown people are, as evidenced by the SM tip above. I know it’s not kosher to assume things, because when you do, it makes a kundi out of you and me, but I have this suspicion that the person in the parentheses didn’t grow up here.
They didn’t know what it was like to be the only Indian, hell, the only Asian, fcuk it, the only non-white kid in school. They didn’t have classmates circle them and make “oooh-wah-wah-wah” noises by quickly touching their lips with their fingers, over and over again, in some horribly insulting mimicry of a misnamed kind of Indian. They didn’t walk a mile in my moccasins. So they don’t know where I’m coming from, just like I can’t even commence imagining what it’s like to walk a few kilometers in their chappals. I just think if you give me what’s on my Christmas list, this blog (ahem, and this world) would be an even awesomer place.
Also, if you could reclassify “sarcasm” so that it’s no longer naughty? That would be soooooo helpful, for both of us (less making a list for you, less items on it from me).
Oatmeal raisin and one-percent okay this year? I’m no Brimful, but I’ll bake them vs buy them, promise. Also? The fireplace isn’t real (there’s no chimney!) so just use the front door, yo.
A N N A