They’ll let anyone in these days…even ex-”Tangoes”

Not since that hottie Natalie Portman has a freshman at Yale an ivy-league freshman created this much buzz. Meet 27-year-old former Taliban spokesperson Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi:

The Before and After pictures (via the NY Times)

The University of Yale has a freshman who is thankful to have landed up in the prestigious institution rather than the Guantanamo Bay prison.

Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, a former Taliban spokesperson, who has the dubious distinction of having come in contact with terror mastermind Osama bin Laden has joined a non-degree course, which includes a class on terrorism… Turned away initially from a Taliban office in Kandahar, Hashemi had offered his skills as a computer operator because of his “high proficiency in English”, the New York Times quoted the freshman as saying.

But later, adding a couple of years to his age, he was accepted and became a part of the hardline Islamic regime that also brought him in contact with 9/11 mastermind Laden.

“I saw bin Laden after he was brought to Kandahar in 1997,” Rahmatullah told the Times.

Hashemi fled Afghanistan for Pakistan after the September 11 bombings. [Link]

Hashemi has had a brief flash of fame once before. He appeared in Michael Moore’s film Fahrenheit 9/11:

As the chief spokes-terrorist for the Taliban, Hashemi traveled extensively throughout Europe and the United States. While speaking at the Atlantic Council in 2001, Hashemi was confronted with a woman who detailed the horrors facing the women of Afghanistan at the hands of the Taliban. He dismissed her as if she were an insolent child and announced to the woman: “I’m really sorry for your husband. He might have a very difficult time with you. Hashemi’s disgusting comments were immortalized in Michael Moore’s “Fahrenheit 911…” [Link]


p>Over a week ago the New York Times did a fantastic 12-page in-depth story on Hashemi (a must read article).

His room was more than he could afford, but he had his hands full with his classes: ENGL 114, Reading and Writing Argument, with Prof. Deborah Tenney; and PLSC 114, Introduction to Political Philosophy, with Prof. Peter Stillman. He got a pair of B’s, and B+’s on papers. (“B positives” he thought they were called.) Because his official education ended in the fourth grade, the marks eased some of his anxiety about passing muster at Yale. He spoke English well, but it was still his fourth language after Pashto, Urdu and Persian and a headache to write even for natives. What he had to learn initially was how to learn. You didn’t have to read everything the professors assigned, but you had to pay close attention to the closing minutes of class, when they recapped material likely to appear on the exam. People thought he was kidding when he asked what the difference was between a test and quiz. Dude, you’re a student at Yale, and you don’t know the difference between a test and a quiz?…

He did not like to dwell on the past, much less advertise it. To avoid alarming eavesdroppers, he referred to his former compatriots as “the Tangoes.” But sometimes the past had a way of finding him…

So rather than simply memorize the Koran all day every day, things at Yale would be a bit different.

As you can imagine, there are a LOT of people not happy that a “terrorist” has gotten admission to Yale:

Never has an article made me blink with astonishment as much as when I read in yesterday’s New York Times magazine that Sayed Rahmatullah Hashemi, former ambassador-at-large for the Taliban, is now studying at Yale on a U.S. student visa. This is taking the obsession that U.S. universities have with promoting diversity a bit too far.

Something is very wrong at our elite universities. Last week Larry Summers resigned as president of Harvard when it became clear he would lose a no-confidence vote held by politically correct faculty members furious at his efforts to allow ROTC on campus, his opposition to a drive to have Harvard divest itself of corporate investments in Israel, and his efforts to make professors work harder. Now Yale is giving a first-class education to an erstwhile high official in one of the most evil regimes of the latter half of the 20th century–the government that harbored the terrorists who attacked America on Sept. 11, 2001…

In the spring of 2001, I was one of several writers at The Wall Street Journal who interviewed Mr. Rahmatullah at our offices across the street from the World Trade Center…

As for Osama bin Laden, Mr. Rahmatullah called the Saudi fugitive a “guest” of his government and said it hadn’t been proved that bin Laden was linked to any terrorist acts, despite his indictment in the U.S. for planning the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania. [Link]

I think you got to give the guy a break. Sometimes people don’t appreciate how thoroughly one can be brainwashed. Maybe after having tasted freedom and opportunity in America it will change his perspective and he will return to Afghanistan someday to help improve society there. You have to hope at least. By the way, this was my favorite part of the Times article:

Over the next three weeks, [Mountaineer, cameraman, and filmmaker Mike] Hoover and Rahmatullah traveled around Taliban-controlled Afghanistan and formed a deep friendship. One night, a week or so into the trip, Hoover was sitting on the floor of the foreign office guest house in Kandahar, drinking tea as Rahmatullah and some other Taliban peeled potatoes and onions. Rahmatullah asked him a question.

“Do you believe people are related to dogs?”

Dogs are not favored in Afghan society; the question dared him to contradict common sense.

“Yes,” Hoover said.

The Taliban all laughed in amazement.

“How can you possibly believe that? We are so different.”

“You see only differences. I see similarities.”

“Similarities! Like what?”

Hoover wanted his first example to be an intellectual bunker buster, so he thought carefully.

“Bilateral symmetry,” he said. The laughter stopped, which pleased him.

“What does that mean?”

“It means dogs have eyes on either side of their nose, just like humans. Dogs have two nostrils, just like humans. They have two lungs. They have toenails. They have a heart in the center of their chest. Dog blood and human blood are indistinguishable.”

Recalling the exchange not long ago, Hoover said: “Now you could hear a pin drop — and it was a dirt floor. They were starting to get uneasy. There was a dog right outside. It was scraggly and covered with sores; I think the appropriate word for it would be ‘cur.’ When I finished laying out how they might be genetically related to the cur outside, they went off and started talking among themselves very intently. What they were discussing and what they wanted to understand was if what I was saying was true, would it fit within the teachings of the Koran. After a long time they came to the conclusion that it would…” [Link]

110 thoughts on “They’ll let anyone in these days…even ex-”Tangoes”

  1. >>Typical second generation attitude: I grew up with Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Sri Lankan, etc. Americans. 1. They look the same as me I second that. They too have dark circles around their eyes… are weaker than the general population…Have oily hair…Tend to put on weight faster. etc etc etc 2. act the same as me Disagree with this. The educational and economic level of 2nd Gen Indian-Americans is far superior to that of the Pak/Bang/Afghan(!) etc etc. Poll any ivy-league. Poll Wall Street companies. Poll Silicon Valley. (Don’t poll Spelling Bee contests – it’s just too apparent). Poll Hollywood.

    Wow. surprised this made it through the censors. For comments under point 1. Stereotypes, perepetuated by the fact you said “they” and “you”; so you are stereotyping a race other then your own. We all know that when Abhi posted “they look the same as me” it was a term of comraderie, and unity with fellow desis.

    Under point 2- How’s that for deepening the the boundaries of the model minority myth, within the model minorty…The change over in the Immigration Act of 1965 which changed immigration laws in the US from race based to skills based had an enormous impact in creating the the culture of education and economic “success” we have today in the larger desi community; using it as a measure as a marker as to how we don’t “act the same” is absurd- further, if I did take a poll of mainstream fields of wall street, silicon valley, etc… they are just going to say we are all brown anyways; they won’t be able to make the difference between the “indian-Americans” or “bangadeshi-Americans”…

    I find your comments disturbing. I won’t touch upon the rest (everyone else did a pretty good job of covering it), except to let you know that at desi Muslim family parties I went to there were just as much laughter throughout.

  2. Why the F*&#K do some of you guys insist on using the term “afghani” to describe the afghan people. Afghani, FYI is the Afghan currency. It is tantamount to desribing Indians as Rupees or Amreekans as Dollars.

    On the other hand, I strongly agree with Punjabijatt in # 27. the Afghans are loath to be considered “desi”. Indeed, they reject the label very strongly. I think that is beacuse they think they are better than us dark skinned Indians. It is all bout the skin color my brothers and sisters.

  3. Expose ji,

    From American Heritage Dictionary SYLLABICATION: Af·ghan·i PRONUNCIATION: f-gn, -gän ADJECTIVE: Of or relating to Afghanistan; Afghan. NOUN: Inflected forms: pl. Af·ghan·is A native or inhabitant of Afghanistan; an Afghan. ETYMOLOGY: Pashto afghn, from afghn, Afghan.

    Sure, the color dynamics plays out a role in Afghani-Desi connection. No doubt. But is that any different from any part in Indian subcontinent.

  4. The term Afghan is often confused with the breed of dog that happens to share the same name, so I stick with Afghani, and more specifically, Pashtun, when discussing Afghans. Another FYI about the Afghani (currency) it’s worth more than the Pakistan Rupee!

    1 Afghanistan Afghani = 1.42398 Pakistan Rupee 1 Pakistan Rupee (PKR) = 0.70226 Afghanistan Afghani (AFA)

  5. and the Indian Rupee(so I won’t be called a paki-hater :P )

    1 Afghanistan Afghani = 1.05311 Indian Rupee 1 Indian Rupee (INR) = 0.94957 Afghanistan Afghani (AFA)

  6. Which desis would those be Ikram? The refugee Pashtun population of Pakistan? Or the misguided pakis, who falsely name their weaponary after those foregin, mainly turkic invaders?

    No, Muslim Indians in Delhi, Lucknow, and in little towns across UP. Not without misgivings, given their brutality, but nonetheless recognized as the founders of a distinctively Muslim Desi culture that has flourished for nearly a millenium.

    You may argue that they are wrong for admiring Ghauri et. al. Fair enough. But they still do.

    browngrlnwhite wrote

    says WHO. are u saying tamils and mallus arent DESI. another example of the aryan gened north indian trying to oppress the dravidian people.well let me just tell u we are just as and even more DESI than any of u. SO HA, in you face, hindi boy.

    Actually, its Urdu boy, though I’d be OK with Hindustani boy. But you’re about right on everything else!

  7. Kush,

    I am aware of the different ethnic communities that comprise modern day Afghanistan. In an earlier post I eliminated the Uzbeks, Tajiks, Hazaras from this discussion because of their Central Asian roots. For this debate tis easier to just equate Afghan with Pashtun(Pakhtoon/Pathan).

  8. Kapoors are Punjabi Khatris.

    Of course, I grew up in India, I know.

    They spoke Hindko (a dialect of Punjabi) and not Pashto as their mothertongue

    Here is an excerpt from a book First Family of Indian Cinema, by Madhu Jain, Penguine India

    His father, Bashesharnath, a ruddy bon vivant Pathan with a walrus moustaches and an ample girth, had become purple with rage when his son had told him about his plans to become an actor. ‘Kanjar — is that what you want to become?’ he exploded. The imposing gates of the studio would have deterred a lesser mortal. Prithviraj just stood there. He might have had to stand a long time had the gateman of the studio not been a Pathan. Prithvi spoke to him in Pashto. The guard, Behramshah, happy to discover a fellow Pathan, let him in and advised him to stand in line with the extras.

    Ofcourse there is going to be cultural differences between the Hindu “pathan” and “muslim pathan”. Its hardly earth shattering to know that one group things that they are the “pure” ones and dont intermarry. I have lots of other such examples …. this is Des we are talking about after all. If there is one thing we know well, is misguided pride and claims of racial purity. :-)

  9. If you’re trying to separate Bangladeshis from West Bengalis on based on the parties we Bengalis went to as children, you’re crazy. Bengali parties are Bengalli parties.

    When I was also in high school, I sometimes had to take a cab home from BART when my mom was sick. The gaggle of Afghan cab drivers who gathered at the BART station called me Beti, cranked up their Bollywood music, and often wouldn’t take my money. If I was waiting there very late at night, and would impatiently start pacing towards the less crowded side, they’d tell me to be careful and staynear the main station. They’d try to talk to me in Hindi, grateful to speak more familiar words. Besides my family and my one brown classmate they were often the only brown people I’d see for weeks on end. They’d say, “we’re all desi,” and I’d say, “yep.” I meant it then and you’re not going to make a liar of me now.

    I went to a high school with exactly one other full time brown student. (we had a lot of Indian exchange students.) He’s Pakistani-American. We spent a month together backpacking through the High Sierras, and we shared our cravings for real basmati rice, our mother’s fresh hot roti and perfect kheer, some achar for real flavor, our family’s particular brand of affection, our music. We shared our horror at the fact that we couldn’t shower for a month. Sure, I have a special bond with each and every one of my friends from high school, and withmy patrolmates. But unless you carried my forty pound pack for me when I was sick for half a mile along with yours, you don’t get to f—ing dictate the terms of my relating to my desi friend This bond is part South Asian American, thank you very much. I’m really sick of people trying to cram my life-experience into their narrow world view. You don’t want to make common cause with other South Asians? Fine. But don’t second guess the truth of our experience. You weren’t there.

    As I’ve said before, if there was a stellar Indian-American site that focused on being Indian-American I’d probably participate, and stick to the authors’ stipulation that it have an Indian-American focus. Somehow I don’t think the people whining on Sepia are the ones who could sucessfully run such a site. This site wants to call itself South Asian/desi, and those are terms that have some meaning to me. That’s all.

    Also, why are we such extreme degree snobs? I’ve known and met Nobel Laurates, MacArthur fellows, inventors, startup millionaires, great artists,what have you. My best friends are physicists, mathematicians, computer scientists. You know what? Some of the smartest people I’ve known haven’t finished college. Tagore never finished college. Get some freakin’ humanity.

  10. RC writes: >>Ofcourse there is going to be cultural differences between the Hindu “pathan” and “muslim pathan”.

    Please don’t bring up these differences on this board. Some people may find the truth “disturbing” and feel “offended”. You may be classified a bigot who perpetuates the stereotype of model minority.

    Over here, we are all the same. We all like jilebis and chewing-gum posts!!

    M. Nam

  11. Actually, its fair to say that ‘desi-ness’ dimishes the further you get from the Gangetic plain. So Afghans are about as ‘desi’ as Tamils. (Or even more desi than Tamils)]

    No. It is not fair to say that. By your logic the Burmese and Thai would be more desi than the Tamils.

    Afganis don’t consider themselves to be desi.

  12. “The gaggle of Afghan cab drivers who gathered at the BART station called me Beti, cranked up their Bollywood music, and often wouldn’t take my money. “


    I once had an Afghani cab driver in SF from airport to Hotel Nikko. He played classical Indian music in his cab and told me amazing things about classical music during the ride. As a refugee, he had spent time in India.

    Hamid Karzai, the President of Afghanistan was a student in India. At one point, in a place like Delhi, you would easily run into an Afghani student, and would not even know.

    Bombay underworld’s muscle comes from Pashtuns/ Pathans, sometimes straight from Afghanistan. Do read Shantaram.

  13. Ikram,

    I am not surpised that North Indian muslims would hold those characters in high-esteem, they are no different than many Punjabi Pakistanis in that regard. I believe the reverence has a lot to do with connecting to the foreign Islamic conquerers, and nobody will deny their impact, whether positive or negative. I have spoken to a lot of Punjabi Pakis, and they are quick to claim foreign ancestory and heritage, as a means of distancing their hindu ‘kafir’ heritage. I won’t deny that there are elements of foregin blood within the populace, but it just makes me laugh when I see dudes named Muhammad Cheema admiring the likes of Ghauri and Ghaznavid, why not propogate the Punjabi muslims like : Sultan Bahu, Bulleh Shah, Shah Huessein, Mian Muhammad

  14. With all due respect this is absurd. Also there are no Pashtuns in Iran. The reason I say Pashtun to be Desi, is because the famous Prithviraj Kapoor was from a Pathan family in Peshawar and spoke “Pashto” as a first language.

    Why is it absurd? I followed same anlogy as you gave in your post earlier. Yes there are no great number of Pashtun in Iran but there still are. I also forgot to mention Hazaras who are more persians than pashtun. So since Sepia God has included Afghans as Desis because of common Pashtun population btn Pakistan and Afghnaistan Irani should also be called Desi. They have as much common population with other desi countries like Balouchi living in Pakistan and Iran, Hazaras living in Afghanistan and Iran and Zoroastrian Iranis living in India. Heck we had great Homi Jahangir Bhabha with Irani ancestary as our leading NuCular Scientist in 60′s that alone make all the Iranis Desi. And i would like to extend this analogy and say all Iraqis are Desi too since the have population which ethinically same as Iranis our fellow desis. Oh yeah Iran border is almost at the same distance from Gangatic planes as Tamizhnadu is. So that will make Ikram happy too. Also farsi/Persian used to we undivded India’s official language till not too long ago so that also makes them Desi.

  15. ok, can someone please tell this idiot that refering to pakistanis as pakis is highly offensive!!!

    heck, i’m not even from pakistan, and i know enough to know that in UK as well as other countries paki is a racial term directed, infact, as i said earlier, to all peoples of brown colour, the bigots not caring what ur passport says, nor what degree u have, or what religion u are.

    i think it is fairly evident the level disrespect this individual has for pakistanies, and one could surmise bangladeshis and afghans at that… its this sort of idiotic mindset that really needs to be kiboshed..

  16. Saheli, I think we should extend our invitation to some other communities. I lived for some time in a Caucasian American lady’s house. She used to treat me almost like a son. made me to go rent Bollywood movies for her. She cooked desi food even though i wanted to eat more stake. And CD player was always playing Jagjit Singh(He is a famous Ghazal singer). So i would plead to you guys to include the Caucasian Americans into Desi category too. Will highly appreciate that. Please guys redirect me to the section on this site where i can file a petition for this. Thanks Vick

  17. Dudette,

    I take it you are referring to me? You need to calm down and not be so hyper-sensitive. Where I live, Vancouver BC, Hindu is used as a racial slur against, as you put it, “Brown” people. Should this preclude me from using the word? What we really need, are people who can debate and articulate themselves with reason, and not try to censor others simply because they do not agree with their view, or are so sensitive that they infer slurs where there are none.

  18. PJ – given the history of “Paki Bashing” in the UK, it’s really not an advisable word to use. Hindus don’t mind being called Hindus, but Pakistanis object to being called Pakis.

  19. Vick — I understand you’re attempting a reductio ad absurdum, but your argument is really heavy on absurdum itself. You’re arguing that having a minimal number of Desis in your country does not a desi country make.

    Ok, but 42% is not a minimal number. The minimal number of Rohingya Bengalis does not make Burma a Desi country, nor does the minimal number of Baluchis make Iran Desi. But 42% — that’s a big number.

    But numbers aren’t everything. Fiji is 50% Desi, is it a Desi country? Guyana is 50% Desi, is it a Desi country? Mauritius is almost 70% Desi, is it s Desi country? Brampton is 20% Desi ….

    All of this points to how stupid the name game is. Desi literally means ‘of the Desh’, or of the (home)land. A desi is someone you see as a compatriot. Some of us see Afghans as compatriots, others don’t. Some Afghans see me as a compatriots, many don’t. Each person has their own desiverse — depending on who we see as having cultural commonalities. I include Afghans, but see myself as having little in common with Tamils. Epoch has a dfferent view. Hopefully, over time, my Desiverse will expand southwards towards Kanyakumari (much like Aurangzeb conquered the Deccan — oops, let’s not go there). But until then, whats the point in arguing the boundaries of our own personal desiverse’s? Really, the smaller it is, the worse off you are.

  20. Oh And about this site being South Asian American. Can someone explain me why Arundhati Roy is used in one of the banner? I Dont think she ever lived in America. Whenever i see these Indian Icons displayed all over here i seem to forget about the SAA factor of this site. :) Please make a banner with Rudi Bakhtiar(She is a SAA too) of CNN. That would be bhery cool. Thanks Again for your extremely good SAA/desi/brown site.

  21. Ennis,

    In Canada the use of Hindu as a racial slur is also widespread. As a Sikh, I have been called Hindu many a time in an attempt denegrate me, but it didn’t/doesn’t bother me, tis just feringi ignorance. Also, the context in which I used the term Punjabi Paki had no derogatory connotation whatsoever. Contrary to Dudette’s claims, if they are truly directed towards me, I do not harbour hatred or animosity towards Pakistanis, Bangladeshi, or Afghans. Actually, I have a number of Pakistan and Afghani friends, I was merely engaging in the debate, whether or not Afghans are desi? My opinion is no, based on ethno-linguisitc dynamics and more importantly, the majority of Pashtuns do not see themselves as such, or at least the ones I have met or read articles relating to such.

  22. Ikram Thanks for telling me the meaning of Desi my Sanskrit is little weak. I didnt know that this is all about personal liking. I thought this site was a Desi/SAA/Brown site which owner of this site claims from time to time. And you are wrong about the numbers. If you look at the numbers of Pashtuns in Pakistan you will find that their number isnt really that high. There are almost same percentage of Tajik living in Afghanistan so we should call tajikstan a Desi country. Same with Hazara’s number in fellow SA country and in Iran.
    And you are really kidding when you say that a Afghan and someone from even UP(Not one who’s ancestors are pashtun) look same. Pashtun dont look brown from any angle. On a recent visit to even Peshawar an Indian Journalist from reported it felt a very different ‘country’ than anyother in sub continent.

  23. Vick wrote:

    And you are wrong about the numbers … And you are really kidding when you say that a Afghan and someone from even UP(Not one who’s ancestors are pashtun) look same

    I don’t mind empty sarcasm that much Vick, but I draw the line at poor reading comprehension. This is where I get out.

    For those interested in a more edifying web content, check out the abstracts presented at the South Asian Graduate Student’s Conference entitled ‘Imaging Empire’, including several papers on — wait for it — Afghanistan.

    Have fun!

  24. I always thought Rudi Bakhtiar was Iranian? Oh I thought she was related to Zeba Bakhtiar the famous Pakistani film Heroine. Anyway i feel Iranis with so much cultural ties to rest of SA are Desis too.

    And Ikram you get out when you have nothing to support your argument. You brought in the numbers but forgot that numbers of Pashtun/Balouch in pakistan itself is very low.

  25. ps- pattie, he is a cutie

    ;) ! not quite rabbi or monty…or amitabh..but cute. almost a wasim jaffer..(I cuted a non- sardar! i do it!)


    since we’re tossing out some genius questions here….where do romanis fit in the whole are we desi thing? orginated in the punjab, even have a flag with a chakar, similar to india’s. i’m just curious. thankee!

  26. Pattie,

    Cool :) I was just curious, because you posed the query about the Roma’s “desi” status. Any significance to the Kaur appearing in your username?

  27. Some Roma intellectuals are trying to reconnect to their Indian roots (Roma, for those who don’t know, is the self-appelation of the ‘Gypsies’). The Roma language (albeit heavily fragmented into different geographic dialects) is clearly related to northern Indian tongues, especially Hindi, the Rajasthani dialects, and Punjabi. Two examples that come to mind:

    1)The Roma say they are of ‘the true black blood’, which in Romani is ‘tacho kawlo ratt’. This is very similar to Hindi ‘sacha kala rakt’ (also meaning true black blood).

    2)In a book I was reading about the Roma (don’t remember the author), there was a chapter called ‘Hindupen’ (Romani for ‘hindu-ness’) which detailed one Roma’s search for connections between Roma religious traditions and Hindu ones. The Romani suffix ‘pen’ is related to the Hindi ‘pan’ as in the Hindi words ‘bachpan’(childhood) or ‘bhookhapan’(the state of being hungry).

    There are many more examples but those are off the top of my head.

  28. Cool :) I was just curious, because you posed the query about the Roma’s “desi” status. Any significance to the Kaur appearing in your username? prob! indeed. two reasons. first off, we have mr. singh, and we have the fact that i am taking the path of sikhi and will be taking amrit sometime in the near future.

    neatness…so amitabh, techincally we romani’s ARE desis. even though i’m the last to look it. :) our dialect was also to have said to have punjabi roots. where did you find this info dear…i’m trying to find out more about my romani roots, because one problem we have is that since we were chastised for centuries, our culture has become all but obscured within the bounds of the gypsy fortuneteller etc. stereotypes. and it’s really degrading to a good romani.

  29. [Actually, its Urdu boy, though I'd be OK with Hindustani boy. But you're about right on everything else!]

    sorry about. in my defense, the term hindi is used in by south indians for north indian like madrasi is used by north indian for south indians. it refuses to acknowledge the complexity of each other’s culture.

  30. Comment No. 45

    Disagree here. Pakistan has named “their” missile ‘Ghauri’ too, they are still Desis. (just Desis who have made wrong choice of heroes :-) IMO)

    ‘Stop naming missiles after Afghan heroes’ “We asked them not to use the names of great elders of Afghanistan on weapons of mass destruction or other war equipment,” [ Link ]

    Islamabad will not rename missiles Islamabad could not fulfill the request because Pakistan and Afghanistan shared a common history and hence common heroes [ Link ]

    New missile crisis Why did Ghauri and Abdali and other warriors come marauding south? our foreign office shouldÂ’ve replied. If they had stayed in Afghanistan, we wouldnÂ’t have treated them as our heroes and been content to look around for indigenous heroes [ Link ]

    Hilarious stuff !!

  31. fascinating article, thanks for the heads up, abhi.

    regarding the roma / desi connection, the many similarities between flamenco (attributed to the romanis) and kathak would seem to further reinforce what amitabh mentioned – the fluid upper body vs. percussive use of the feet, ending on the first beat rather than the last beat of rhythmic cycles, the astounding chhakars / spins, the way dancer and musician relate to one another. i’ve even heard flamenco teachers use ‘bol’ like syllables to describe certain patterns of footwork (mostly of the ‘taka’ and ‘takita’ variety).

    patti, have you seen a film called ‘latcho drom’? if not, it also iterates this sort of connection through music and dance, starting in (what i believe is) rajasthan and following the romani through the middle east and southern europe. just thought it might be of interest to you.

  32. Post no. 63 Kush Tandon

    Bombay underworld’s muscle comes from Pashtuns/ Pathans, sometimes straight from Afghanistan. Do read Shantaram.

    Actually the backbone of Pathan mafias was broken by Dawood Ibrahim & Bros. in the 80′s and boys from Azamgarh Dist, UP. Now Azamgarh is famous all over India for being quality exporter of gundas and murderers. Abu Salem is one of its proud son.

    Sadly Pathan gundas no longer hold the prominent position in India’s underwaorld. Our homemade articles have left them way behind in competetion.

  33. patti, have you seen a film called ‘latcho drom’? if not, it also iterates this sort of connection through music and dance, starting in (what i believe is) rajasthan and following the romani through the middle east and southern europe. just thought it might be of interest to you.

    hi! no i have not, but that does sound interesting. thanks! i never heard about the flamenco dancing being attributed to us, but one of the many sterotyps is that romani always bellydanced. our coulture did some sort of dances, but then again, all cultures have their own dances. i used to watch polkas with my pop when i was kid. but, what the heck, if we DID come up with flamenco, cool! another thing – if you listen to REAL romani music, it does sound very indian or even middle eastern.

  34. The Roma connection with India is not really contested. There was a Roma King in Europe who also called himself King of India or something along those lines. I attended a flamenco performance once and the Spanish Roma dancer spoke at length about the similarities between Indian classical and flamenco. Also, I remember reading once about a collaboration between a Bharatanatyam dancer and a flamenco dancer which they called “Flamenco Natyam.”

  35. kom, that’s great, as i have ben curious since i found out about my heritage. in true form, it’s always been very sketchy, even for my non romani sections! i thank all who provide such great info!

  36. .where do romanis fit in the whole are we desi thing?

    OFCOURSE Roma are Desi. Is there any iota of doubt about that? Roma are our lost Desi brothers and Sister. I love to read about everything “Romani”. There was a PBS documentary long time back about Roma in the US. I am hoping that they will re-broadcast it. Here is a Link about that PBS show . Even ABC News’s Nightline had done a show on the ROMA. Their story from the WWII is never told. One of our Desi bro will put it togather one day.

  37. OFCOURSE Roma are Desi. Is there any iota of doubt about that? Roma are our lost Desi brothers and Sister. I love to read about everything “Romani”. There was a PBS documentary long time back about Roma in the US. I am hoping that they will re-broadcast it. Here is a Link about that PBS show . Even ABC News’s Nightline had done a show on the ROMA. Their story from the WWII is never told. One of our Desi bro will put it togather one day.

    ok, that right there deserves a HUGE hug! thanks for the link. i had not gotten to see it, hope i can somehow. i would love em to re-broadcast it msyelf. i had seen a special on TLC ohh…god…i guess like almost 10 years ago now, and had made no connection until i found out about my grandfather. i thought i was adopted or that he was or seomthing until my grandmum explained the connection. and now that i know, comes trying to discover further and preserve that history for me. and i’m proud of those roots, and especially to be able say that i too am desi, even though i don’t look it. but then again, it’s not whatcha look like, it’s what’s inside. i’d love to hear more about what you’re read! do drop me a line. thanks!

  38. I was watching Foxnew today and who did I see none other then Rudi Bakhtiar. I guess she no longer on CNN

    As For Punjabi Jatt, what part of Vancouver do you live in. I downtown just off of Pender St. Please tell me that you don’t live near 49th and Main.

  39. Pattie, It dont matter watchya “look” like, it whats inside. A lot of people here know that there is no singe Desi “look” anyways. So, all the best in discovering more about your history. And like Siddhartha said “stay Desi”. I havent come around any new material lately, but I now know who would be interested..

  40. Pattie, It dont matter watchya “look” like, it whats inside. A lot of people here know that there is no singe Desi “look” anyways. So, all the best in discovering more about your history. And like Siddhartha said “stay Desi”. I havent come around any new material lately, but I now know who would be interested..

    i agree with you! thanks! and you bet i will! thanks!

  41. Moornam:

    How many Pak/Bangla/Afghan get togethers have you been to? If you disagree with the following scenario that I’ve seen many times, let me know. Men and women are sitting in separate rooms.

    I’ve been to about a million Bangladeshi parties and I can guarantee you that 95% of cases the ONLY time men and women separate is if there are too many people to fit comfortably in the one room. Another thing I can personally guarantee you is that topics discussed by men, in order frequency, are (1) Bangladeshi politics, (2) Iraq War & International events/politics, (3) Adopted country’s politics & (4) Islam. Topics discussed by women, in order of frequency are (1) Their kids, (2) Fashion & Jewellery, (3) Cooking, (4) Islam, (5) International events/politics.

    If you wish, I am happy to conduct an empirical study on the matter.

  42. Yaa Saheli! Don’t let the trolls get you down. I liked Sirc’s original title in Tips section…oh how the world has changed since Buckley’s time.

  43. A friend told me about this discussion on this website.


    I’m from Afghanistan, my family is mostly Tajiks and Uzbeks.

    I read the defination of what a desi is?

    “What does desi mean?

    It’s slang for the cultures of South Asia and the diaspora. It’s similar to homeboy, paesano or boricua. Etymology: deshi, Hindi/Urdu for ‘from the country,’ ‘from the motherland.’ Pronounced ‘they-see,’ it’s the opposite of pardesi, foreigner.”

    I don’t know any Afghan who even knows what a desi is, or who would agree that they are a desi, “from the motherland” (I take it the motherland means India).

    Of course many of the different ethnic groups in Afghanistan are related to the ancient Aryan tribes (Persians) that made their way to Northern India. However, we also just as Mongolian in orgins if not more so.

    Questions for any Pashtuns in Pakistan, do you consider yourself a desi?

  44. RC on March 2, 2006 09:32 PM · Direct link Just out of interest, are Afghanis considered to be ‘desi’? Although Abhi has already answered this question, but that wont stop me from chiming in with some more useless data and analysis:-)

    According to CIA fact book, Afghani population is 42% Pashtun and 2% Baloch. Thats almost half of Afghani population. Now since ALL of pakistan is considered “desi”, which has both Pashtun (such as in and around Peshawar) and Baloch (around city of Quetta) populations in it, we have to include Afghanistan in “desi” (well atleast the above mentioned half population)


    Pashtuns only make up 6-8% of Pakistan population. Baloch make up maybe 3% of Pakistan population. Half of Pakistan is Punjabi and the rest are ethnic groups with ties to India.

  45. TajStranger, Since Desi is a multi-ethnic label, my comments were made with a point of view of inclusion. I have absolutely no issues or argument against anyone who doesnt want to identify in a specific way. (Desi, non-Desi, or whatever). Also, the reason I made that inclusive comment about Pashtun’s is that as far as I am aware, Pakistani Pashtuns call themselves, atleast Pakistanis, and since Pakistan is part of a what we generally refer as “Des”, a logical conclusion was that those Pashtuns would consider themselves Desi.

    Now I dont know how strong is the real Pakhtunistan movement, or is it a seccessionist movement or not. If there is a real Pakhtunistan seperate identity and they are serious about it, then I would assume that Pakistani Pashtuns would not like to be called “Desi”. All of these things I have no real information about.