Allergic to Hypocrisy?

radaknet.jpg

A tip about this photograph was posted on our News tab a few hours ago by “namantra” under the title Dehli ad on Metro. It was their description of the link which interested me:

The same country that often frowns down upon public displays of affection has billboards that openly use curse words.

I must say, I was slightly surprised to see one of my favorite blue words gettin’ dropped so blatantly, but I know nothing about advertising in the Motherland. Does this ad signal a coarsening of Indian culture? Or did it not raise the threaded eyebrows of those of you who are familiar with such things? And are we comparing jack fruit with ambarellas; does one have nothing to do with the other?

234 thoughts on “Allergic to Hypocrisy?

  1. FWIW, I have no problem being called an ABCD. I am confused. Not about my desiness, but sure, I’ll cop to confusion.

  2. Oh right, got it.

    I think FBD works best, b/c there may be people who identify as desis but were born or raised in Africa or other regions… then again they may not identify with SABD (south asian born desis)

  3. OK, OK, why do all the acronyms asume that the D in question is living in Amreeka yaar?

  4. PBDs, BBDs, NBDs and SLBDs..

    hehehe, I thought ‘Punjab-born, Bengal-born, … and then I couldn’t figure out N and SL.

    Ennis: Your point is taken, I don’t think I and some of the others trying to have a sane discussion about this are the ‘venemous’ ones. Yes, some of the rhetoric being bandied around is pretty nasty, and I think best ignored. Didn’t read your ‘water’ post, so don’t know about the reactions to that, but what you quote just sounds worth ignoring.

  5. OK, OK, why do all the acronyms asume that the D in question is living in Amreeka yaar?

    Isnt this mostly an american blog? (no disrespect to any of you in other countries)

  6. Well since we are on this topic, just curious, have the powers that be at Sepia ever considered having a mix of non ABD (I guess lot of people don’t like the word FOB) and ABD writers? Or maybe you guys have and I missed that, but a few days back an email Abhi sent to the OC journo mentioned that all the writers here are ABD and that this is a purely American blog with readers from different places. So far I have read this blog and assumed the intent was to highlight SA issues here and when it matters to the ABD people, highlight issues in SA. For that purpose it is perfectly reasonable to have all your writers ABD.

    However, over time I have noticed that the writers do highlight issues which are purely Indian (or Pakistani, etc) and it’s direct relevance to ABDs is not there except to those who do want to know more about South Asian issues in South Asia. Or like Ennis and Anna have shown right here, they are definitely interested in learning more about the matrubhoomi – and thats really great of you guys. If the purpose was to restrict this blog to ABD issues, the current mix makes a lot of sense but if the purpose was or has gradually expanded to understand SA itself, then it may help to have a mix of writers – some more in tune with ABD centric issues and others (who probably would be 1.5ers or FBD types) more in tune with SA.

    Of course it all depends on what you guys want this blog to be. So far given your constraints you guys do a great job and this is a very interesting blog – it has definitely helped me as a non ABD to understand brown issues in the US and ABDs as a community much better.

  7. I want people to explain things I don’t understand. That’s why I’m here.

    But most of the questions themselves are loaded. In other words, some questions can only be generated in a particular culture, in this case the US culture. From the Indian perspective many of the question are ill-posed and any attempt to answer such questions ends up bracketing Indians within a framework that does not actually exist in India. The culture is misrepresented by the simple fact of asking the question and further in answering the question. DBD’s end up taking these questions seriously because there is a tacit acceptance of the fact that people from the US somehow know what they’re talking about.

    Further, no matter which way you cut it, the constant questioning about India most definitely comes across as condescending. Everything you question turns out to be less morally repugnant in the US than in India by a long shot. Naturally, because both sides use American standards. To me it doesn’t look like people really care to understand whatever the heck is happening back in the desh as much as they sort of feel an urgency to establish that they themselves are morally above it all.

  8. I think Divya in 157 hits it on the head. There have been instances where the questions have been loaded and trying to understand is a cover. It may also be because the situations in question give rise to loaded questions. As it is oft times repeated, it is a site with ABD perspective, the education may also be for the other ABDs.

  9. Isnt this mostly an American blog?

    Since someone made all you guys the boss over lunch (I am still waiting for the memo), what would my blog be? Everyone over there is FOB, well at least a while ago, but we are based here in the US. So what are we?

    And to answer your questions about ABCD’s and my reasons about why there should be no C in ABCD, here is a post I wrote a LONG time ago, it was written with something else in mind, but sure it applies to our topic of discussion.

    Besides, I know IBDs from India who can’t write or read Tamil, Malayalam, Hindi. And they blog in English. Why aren’t you insulting them?

    @pondatti: You talking about me? How dare you? :)

  10. Since someone made all you guys the boss over lunch (I am still waiting for the memo), what would my blog be? Everyone over there is FOB, well at least a while ago, but we are based here in the US. So what are we?

    not trying to be boss. i c ur point..

    P

  11. they sort of feel an urgency to establish that they themselves are morally above it all.

    It sounds like you don’t like the fact that we’re sarcastic and you mistake our lack of respect for sacred cows for a presumed moral superiority.

    Or maybe you’re uncomfortable about the fact that we make judgments, and don’t come to the topic of India (although nobody complains when we blog about Pakistan this way) with a humble attitude.

    It’s also interesting that I rarely see you comment on the more empirical posts I have written on India. Those seem to go unnoticed.

    The culture is misrepresented by the simple fact of asking the question and further in answering the question.

    We are Americans. We question everything, and we are sarcastic about everything. If our questioning is a bad thing, there isn’t much we can do about that. It is, however, something we do on both sides of the ocean. There is plenty of celebration and criticism to go around, we just don’t place anything or one on a pedestal.

  12. Since someone made all you guys the boss over lunch (I am still waiting for the memo), what would my blog be? Everyone over there is FOB, well at least a while ago, but we are based here in the US. So what are we?

    ABCI? Amreekan based confused Indians.

  13. And to answer your questions about ABCD’s and my reasons about why there should be no C in ABCD, here is a post I wrote a LONG time ago, it was written with something else in mind, but sure it applies to our topic of discussion.

    Karthik is my new hero.

  14. It sounds like you don’t like the fact that we’re sarcastic and you mistake our lack of respect for sacred cows for a presumed moral superiority.

    Is this meant to be sarcastic? You’re right, I don’t like sarcasm. Do you? As for the sacred cows bit, not sure if you’re trying to be insulting or you think it’s funny, but I wonder how many Indians you’ve met in your life who go about talking about sacred cows.

    It’s also interesting that I rarely see you comment on the more empirical posts I have written on India. Those seem to go unnoticed.

    The explanation is quite banal. I comment only one one post generally and keep up with that. I have no idea how people deal with multiple posts, nor do I read all the posts, nor do I read SM every day. Perhaps your so-called empirical posts were not of any interest to me, or stuff I had no knowledge about.

    We are Americans. We question everything, and we are sarcastic about everything. If our questioning is a bad thing, there isn’t much we can do about that. It is, however, something we do on both sides of the ocean. There is plenty of celebration and criticism to go around, we just don’t place anything or one on a pedestal.

    As if your being american has anything to do with the fact that you question rather than the type of questions you ask. That’s precisely what was being pointed out. How conveniently you missed the point. Please also note this is not meant to be a complaint of any sort. Just pointing out how SM comes across to some of us. There’s no need to go around flinging sacred cows in response.

  15. Is this meant to be sarcastic? You’re right, I don’t like sarcasm. Do you? As for the sacred cows bit, not sure if you’re trying to be insulting or you think it’s funny, but I wonder how many Indians you’ve met in your life who go about talking about sacred cows.

    Do you even know what sacred cow means?

  16. The explanation is quite banal. I comment only one one post generally and keep up with that.

    Then…don’t make vast judgments about the entire blog, when you yourself just admitted that you read “one post” generally.

    Just pointing out how SM comes across to *some* of us.

    …which is starting to seem more like a very vocal few of you vs. any sort of critical mess.

  17. not trying to be boss. i c ur point.. P

    Sorry if I came off too harsh.

    If our questioning is a bad thing, there isn’t much we can do about that

    If questioning did not exist, I for one think that we would still be picking insects off of each others backs. I think I have used that quote before.

    What I do not understand is this, when I ask(ed) an ABD about McGuyver or Jump the ship, references that IBD’s would not know, they did not look at me like I was crazy or ever make statements to that effect. They patiently went on to explain what they knew. I am sure most of us IBD’s have been there.

    So why are we subjecting them (ABD’s) to this?

    ABCI? Amreekan based confused Indians.

    Thanks Vimal, I have a new idea to make money. A dictionary of acronyms used by “Indians”.

  18. Karthik 159, In regards to your post, the only correction I would add as a former PIGS is the condecending nature one has to deal with when dealing with ABCD’s. I’ve found classical whites more respectfully curious as compared to ABCD’s. Unfortunately there’s is that residual snort and snicker, that they are unable to hide eloquently. They seem to forget that we were born with superior profiling and bigotist skills, honed and perfected through years of conditioning. Machan, me thinks all of this discussion takes us nowhere. We are east and they are west and never the twain shall meet. There is no need to meet. Its better off that we dont meet. Like good shayari, its the language and mode of delivery that creates a mood. Can you tell me how to explain Nazakat to people in English? A chuckle for someone is a rude term for another!

  19. I’ve found classical whites more respectfully curious as compared to ABCD’s. Unfortunately there’s is that residual snort and snicker, that they are unable to hide eloquently…We are east and they are west and never the twain shall meet. There is no need to meet. Its better off that we dont meet.

    And yet, this ABCD almost exclusively dates erstwhile PIGs/IBDs. There is plenty of need to meet. And not all of us snort and snicker, but thanks for generalizing.

    Also…classical whites?? As opposed to modern ones?

  20. And yet, this ABCD almost exclusively dates erstwhile PIGs/IBDs.

    More power to you, Anna, but I’m sure even you would acknowledge this puts you in a tiny minority of ABD women. I salute and applaud your efforts to bridge the ‘ABCD’-'FOB’ divide, both in your personal life and through this blog, and see it as a very worthwhile end to pursue.

    Eventually things will converge enough culturally, and on other issues, between the two groups, and technology might make that happen even faster than it already is happening. There are a lot of encouraging signs. Meanwhile, on the way there, we’re going to have some bumps on the road.

    SM being an American blog, just by being what it is, how it is, seems to be rubbing some people the wrong way. Don’t apologize or explain too much, be strong in your convictions, draw strength from others who see things your way (and there are many of us), and things will turn out all right. Take heart above all, that even people who don’t see things quite your way still do come here and care enough to post their opinions. They will be educated!

  21. ALMD- As a matter of fact I did know that meaning of sacred cow, but the way Ennis used it was more of a jibe than anything else.

    Sarcasmo – I did not say I read only one post generally. Take your own advice and don’t jump to conclusions when you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  22. We are east and they are west and never the twain shall meet. There is no need to meet. Its better off that we dont meet.

    No, in ABDs and people like me (born in India, grew up in the West since I was 2) the east and west meet and propagate. I could never, in my sense of identity, take out the indian or south asian with my american. I really disagree with those IBDs or FBDs who act like India or South Asia has nothing to do with the rest of us.

    And I do often find myself looking to India and Indian-things to get a better understanding of myself. Why shouldn’t I? For the rest of my life my parents’ Indian culture has and will shape my American life. When I visit my grandmother’s home in Kerala, I’ve often felt more welcomed there than I have in my own bedroom. I surprisingly find myself articulating things in my head in malayalam, but am forced to speak in English, b/c my tongue can’t construct the malyalee sounds; and it doesn’t come off right in my English vocab. — that’s very symbolic of how east and west ARE in every ABD or AB-raised-D.

  23. Unfortunately there’s is that residual snort and snicker, that they are unable to hide eloquently.

    I am yet to come across one and personally, I think this has a lot to do with ones ego and confidence levels. Thinking about it in another angle, at least they tell you how they feel. The people you talk of (IBD’s) seem to hide their true feelings. I would rather be told that someone does not like me for whatever than sugar coat things.

    Machan, me thinks all of this discussion takes us nowhere. We are east and they are west and never the twain shall meet. There is no need to meet. Its better off that we dont meet

    Machan, I am sorry that you feel that way da. If I were to stick to what you say, I would have never met so many wonderful people in my life, I would not have found THE girl, I would not have gotten trashed a million times and I certainly would not have expected to get home safely every single one of those times.

    Forget ABD’s, I would trust my life in the hands of some of my American friends, people who would do almost anything for me. They do not look at me as a Desi. They see what I see in them, a friend. It boils down to respect, you give it and you get it back. Granted there will always be exceptions, but we are talking about the majority.

    If you further generalize your statement, we should not be talking to anyone but IBD’s, not even American Americans. This will eventually mean that our “borders” will be closed and our knowledge of the world would be non-existent. I am probably going to get flamed for this, but the lack of education, the lack of exposure to other cultures, I think is one of the reasons many religious countries look the way they do, at the west.

    Can you tell me how to explain Nazakat to people in English? A chuckle for someone is a rude term for another!

    I agree with the chuckle, terms will differ, but just because you and I cannot come up with a way to explain Nazakat, does not mean that we should not try. I for one want to feel that I gave it my best shot.

  24. Take heart above all, that even people who don’t see things quite your way still do come here and care enough to post their opinions.

    So far so good!

    They will be educated!

    Doh, so the DBD who does not see things ‘your/their way’ needs to be educated? Chachaji, usually I like what you write and even this comment is good except the last bit. Didn’t you just give more ammo to the condescending claim?

  25. Kathakavi;

    America is a country of extreme contrasts.

    A country of contrasts yes, extreme? I would say more subtle than India, one reason for that may be bigger space and less people. The contrasts of India are in your face all the time just because so many of them are packed tightly in a smaller space.

    No gay rights but non-mutual sexual harrassment “tolerated”.

    Some gay rights, and non-mutual sexual harrassment NOT tolerated or just accepted as “the way it is”. Not even in the ‘hood, really.

    Affection between same-sex close friends is restrained, but dating couples who barely know each other hold hands and walking in an arm-in-arm embrace right, left and center.

    Yep! And I luuuuuurve holding hands.

    I came to the conclusion that the culture has issues with same gender touching only. Opposite gender touching is accepted and non-mutual touching (i.e. sexual harrassment) is tolerated.

    Wrong conclusion. While “too much” same gender touching will appear “gay” to most Americans, non-mutual touching, sexual harrassment is not tolerated. However, opposite gender touching, within reason (hand-holding, simple hugging and kissing, is indeed accepted. Again, a generalization which applies to most of the small towns I’ve seen. Some urban centers and rural villages may be different and totally open to young lovers of the same gender walking while hugging each other in the same way that these small towns are open to two strangers of the different genders doing that.

    No value judgement on those couples. It’s understandable why they do it.

    I would hope so.

    America’s gay culture is still restricted to it’s urban centers.

    Generally that is true.

  26. So Amitabh what was the point of linking that video in # 116? In the song, Delhi is supposed to be the symbol of power or oppression or some such. The discussion on this thread was veering into Delhi – the physical city. And why qualify your comment with a disclaimer? I know you subscribe to the conspiracy theory that Hindu Khatris ( whatever that means ) in Bollywood are working round the clock to make Sikhs look bad or like clowns or whatever. And you don’t have to understand Punjabi to get the tirade he is belting. Basic Hindi will do.

    The song is an anti-Hindu tract disguised as an artist’s heart-wrenching call to arms against the Dilli ki Sarkar( ironically headed by a turbaned Sikh ). So Sikhs are forced to leave their beloved Punjab and emigrate to foreign lands by the rampant unemployment engineered by the government of India? And who was forcing Sikhs to flee Punjab before there was an Indian government in Delhi? Sikhs like Gujaratis and other entrepreneural and intrepid communities have been leaving their homelands for greener pastures since more than a hundred years ago. Punjab has consistently been either the richest or one of the richest states in India. Unemployment and poverty have been a much bigger problem in other states. So lately Punjab has lost the edge to southern and western states not because the government favored those states over Punjab but because Punjab’s own various Sikh dominated governments failed to move the state from just an agricultural economy to a more High Tech one. But railing against the Punjab government would require showing some turbaned villains instead of some tika-festooned Hindu netas, lawyers and policewallahs as the evildoers. Btw the latter two would look so out of place in Sikh-majority Punjab. But verisimilitude is not the purpose in this video. Inciting hate and resurrecting Khalistan is, what with the desultory references to the storming of Akal Takht and 1984 riots. If anything the state of Punjab has, because of its vocal and aggressive lobbying, got more from the central government than most other really deserving states. For example the lopsided benefits to Punjab from the Indira Gandhi Canal which was meant to alleviate the misery of north Rajasthan. Now even locals in that region have been displaced by Sikh farmers from the north ( Punjab ).

    An SM commenter posted a link to the 2007 Sikh Day parade. Interestingly the original posting was at sikhnet.org. This site is the prominent Sikh presence online. Their discussion forums which by the way are supposedly moderated are full of hateful language, delusions of ethnic superiority besides generally inane comments in atrocious English. In one thread most commenters are coming up with ways to discourage the ‘ taking’ of Sikh girls by Muslim boys. So I went to the Sikh Day parade. While they were serving free food to everyone ( very commendable ) just a few yards away an officially sanctioned man on mic was ranting against India, calling the murderer of innocents -Bhindranwale – a martyr and a lot of other hateful things. This went on for the most part of the official program. I thought this happened in certain extremist-infested parts of Canada only. Was this an occasion to celebrate hate? I have listened to similar diatribe in two East Coast Gurudwaras. Won’t even leave a place of worship alone. And I know Hindus who have stopped visiting Gurudwaras because of that. Hindus have made several films and witten hundreds of articles about the plight of Sikhs in 1984. Why are Sikhs so loath to airing their own dirty laundry? Why not write about the wanton killings of minority Hindus in Punjab, the bombings of bazaars and buses in Delhi, the militarization of Golden Temple among other thing, in the years leading upto the Indian Army’s takeover of Golden Temple? Is it because the threat from Sikh extremists is very real? The last person to write against Sikh extremism- Tara Singh Hayer – was murdered in Canada.

  27. Doh, so the DBD who does not see things ‘your/their way’ needs to be educated? Chachaji, usually I like what you write and even this comment is good except the last bit. Didn’t you just give more ammo to the condescending claim?

    Ardy, thanks for the compliment! Yes, they will be educated, whether they choose to converge to SM’s point of view remains to be seen :) Of course, SM will also be educated, so the convergence could be a two-way process. ‘We will all be educated’.

  28. I guess writing your thoughts in a precis form can be misinterpreted very easily. Anna: I did not generalize anything but merely stated my own experience. Kudos to you if you can identify with/date, understand the “kind” that is us. I thank you for considering us worthy to be pursued or spoken to. You and I know thats not a fair statement, but we can always play this rehtoric and it would get us nowhere. FYI :”Classical” whites are the typical “WASP” that I tend to meet/met in daily life. Those modern ones you talk of are rare ! If they can point to Fallujah properly then its all good. Otherwise ..chodo yaar..Gas prices are 3.00 a gallon. GOD bless America and the Coalition of the Willing. Namaste, thankyou come again! Would you like some Nachos with your Big Gulp sar?

    Karthik , I think you miss understood what I said :”East and West and never the twain shall meet”. Its always in an ideological sense. Ground realities being what they are, this entire 150 odd posts would not be necessary nah! (Not trying to shield some really warped stuff said by the FOB’s). Also, this does not apply to personal relationships that get honed over time. I never said I stopped trying da. I talk to everybody, but without that “apniyath”. Somehow, “wot up” is not the same as kya ho raha hai bandhu?/Enna maplai, eppdi poirkinge? Been there with that trashing part. No qualms about that! I’ve never given up hope. But sometimes the radar picks up stuff that you really don’t want to hear from another brown ! Somehow I seem to get along well with more “fellow foreigners (visa holders) ” than natives. Must be the luck of the draw!

    PS I get what you are saying my friend. I do find myself tongue tied too. English is many a time, just too coarse a language to get the meaning across.

  29. Here’s an interesting column that talks about some of what has been exercising people on this site. It’s written by recently-relocated-to-India ABD Sanghamitra Kalita, who writes for the new HT business paper on her back-to-desh move.

    http://www.livemint.com/2007/04/27001311/Lost-in-translation.html

    I really like that she’s self-reflective enough to recognise her in-built biases and be open and honest about them, instead of dismissing any suggestion that she might have these underlying biases with attempted sarcasm (which, we are then informed is more difficult for some of us to understand because of where we were born, oh, or that somehow ‘being american is to question everything (really? and to be indian is somehow to follow, sheep-like, in the path of received wisdom? yes, yes, i know you’re trying to be funny – but the choice of how people choose to attempt humour is often quite revealing about them), or claims that those who see them ‘need to be educated’, or some other such response that trivializes the issue at hand.

    Here are a couple of extracts:

    A few weeks ago, when everything was going horribly wrong, as three information-technology specialists huddled around my computer, as they assured the infamous “five minutes”, I snapped. “Oh (expletive). What the hell kind of country is this?! What tech boom?” “Hey,” called a voice one cubicle over. “We love our country.” She then laughed, this kind co-worker, letting me know she wasn’t entirely offended. Just enough to shut me up. Eventually my email worked and I, a New York-born child of Indian immigrants, stopped blaming a nation of one billion for my computer woes. But I pondered my slip and wondered if my colleagues thought they had seen my true colours, the red, white and blue ones that exude superiority.

    …..

    Fearful of my own perceptions, internal and external, I headed to the offices of relocation agency Global Adjustments in Gurgaon—for some straight talk. I recounted my day of rage, which started with a power outage, a late driver and a snarled commute to work. Vice-president Preeti Bindra nodded understandingly, but I knew she’d heard this countless times before. “Then I said, something like, um … uh …well, I said: ‘What kind of country is this?’” I toned myself down and dropped the cursing. I smiled. Bindra stopped smiling. “You said what?” “I don’t know what I was thinking. It just came out.” “Well, I’ll tell you what your office was thinking,” she said, now starting to look humoured. “Just who does she think she is?” Sitting next to Bindra, cultural trainer Ruchika Srivastava piped in: “And they also probably thought, ‘She’s an Indian, too.’” As if to make me feel better, she assured, “NRI clients are among the most difficult.” Bindra nodded: “They are neither here, nor there. They feel they are not Indian any more and then the other times, they think they know it all.” Yeah, I deserved all that. But the agency imparted some hope, too. Over the last two years, Global Adjustments has seen a surge in expatriates trying to understand Indians and work on their terms. “We’re meeting halfway now,” Bindra said.

  30. Let’s try this again…

    I wonder why you like that article so much, someol’guy?

    Ah, yes. It’s about ONE 2nd gen desi who acts in an imperious and obnoxious fashion and yet is treated graciously by the superior inhabitants of our motherland; she sees the error of her arrogant ABCD ways and acknowledges they are inferior, via “self-reflection”. She receives grace through the patient forgiveness of those who compassionately understand that it’s teh “C” in ABCD which is the root cause for the essayist’s evil ways. If only we all did the same, right?

    Sometimes, an article is just about one brat, not an entire generation.

    It’s not that people here are in denial or think they are flawless or don’t want to be introspective; it’s just that it is nearly impossible to do that in a space where people on “the other side” are going to jump down our throats with the “HA! I knew it/told you so”-reactions. Who wants to be vulnerable when threatened with that?

  31. That’s ridiculous, Pondatti. Thanks for trying to second-guess the reasons for my posting SMK’s article (btw, as former South Asia hand at the WaPo, and now editor of the biggest new business daily in India, I’m sure she’d love your description of her as an ‘imperious, obnoxious.. brat’ :-) . And for your sarcasm about my supposed motives. FYI, I’m about as far from the ‘gracious-motherland’-obsessed Desi as it is possible to be: you know nothing about me, so please don’t insult everyone’s intelligence, including your own, by trying to think that you do. So far, I’ve resisted your continuous barbs, but this really crosses the line.

    By the way: I actually found the response of one of the people quoted in the article, who says the thing about ‘NRIS … they are neither here, nor there. They feel they are not Indian any more and then the other times, they think they know it all.” quite reductive. But oh, no, I’m supposed to be thinking of her as some sort of paragon of Desi graciousness. Bleh.

    Incidentally, the woman who wrote the article is a former WaPo journo who wrote about South Asia for quite a while, and is now the Deputy Editor (I think) of the new HT business paper, and her column is meant to be representative, not of all desis or ABDs, but of people such as herself who are trying to make the undoubtedly difficult move to India, which as we all know, can be a pretty infuriating environment to work in. Do you really think it’s that uncommon for someone to lose their cool and say what she did? ABD or IBD, I don’t think so. What was interesting to me was that she and the other women picked up on the fact that it was not just what she said (which I’ve heard random uncles and aunts in India say a hundred times) but that the perception of it would be coloured by her American-ness, and that perhaps her American-ness was in some part responsible for her particular outburst (there, I’m not sure I agree – as I said, I’ve heard the same said a million times by Indians who live in India – except they don’t have to deal with having to be told to ‘go back to where you came from’, which a foreigner might.

    Perhaps if you had a little more … I hesitate to say intelligence, but maybe maturity is a reasonable word, you would try to read things with an open mind instead of instantly classifying them into the little boxes your mind has apparently constructed into which everything must fit neatly.

    Why the instant defensiveness? Why can someone’s experience not be offered up (especially when she has done so herself) as an instance of something that may be of more general import? What do you want, estimators of the effect of ABD-ness on (non)brattiness, with heteroskedasticity-adjusted robust standard errors? Jeez.

  32. Hmmm. Ok, you two. To your separate corners.

    I happen to be acquainted with Mitra personally, albeit not very well. She’s erudite, she’s well-spoken, and she’s actually very nice in person. I think it takes a certain amount of courage to ‘fess up to doing something boneheaded in an article that will be read (and judged) by thousands. Some people will immediately label her arrogant and condescending for her comment.

    I would refrain, myself. She’s not. She’s very thoughtful, and she moved to India for a reason.

    Send her an email, I bet she’d be happy to talk to you.

  33. 184: I think it takes a certain amount of courage to ‘fess up to doing something boneheaded in an article that will be read (and judged) by thousands.

    My point exactly, which is why I posted it.

  34. Why can someone’s experience not be offered up (especially when she has done so herself) as an instance of something that may be of more general import?

    I wonder this every single time I get attacked on this site. I’m accused of mistaking this for my personal blog, I’m called a narcissist, I’m criticized far more viciously than any of my male bunker mates would be had they posted similar.

    The number of you who forwarded me a certain WaPo article with some variation of, “this reminded me of you” was astounding, telling, depressing…and finally, touching. The story rang very true; I choose to focus on how nice it was for you to think of me sympathetically and take the time to email me, to let me know, than how futile the situation actually is.

  35. @ANNA: Maybe you could page Pondatti ;) S/he doesn’t like the personal-as-general, at all.

  36. Why can someone’s experience not be offered up (especially when she has done so herself) as an instance of something that may be of more general import?

    I wonder the same, especially when asked to “back up” my claims. Hello! I backed it up by relaying the experience. If statistical data is more important to you (whoever) – just google it.

    I tell you Anna, you and I both are being attacked for being women writing about personal experiences.

    Who says data is better than anecdotal evidence anyway?

    Let this not be a completely left brained arena of expression

  37. Since it is we, “the Ganguly’s,” who gave birth to the ABD generation that has come under fire here, I would be remiss if I didn’t come to their defense… once again in this thread.

    My only question is: why is it so necessary for SM to get India “right,” though it does so with amazing frequency? Isn’t SM’s diaspora-colored take on desi issues its very sensibility, its raison d etre, and its value? Should there really be a generic standards manual housed in Delhi, the way Queens English used to be, that all diasporic groups must adhere to in order to be considered legitimately desi? I enjoy SM precisely because it is so ABD. I like to see “the desh” through the eyes of my children. If I wanted only the Indian version (some would incorrectly call it the correct version), I wouldn’t have to go any farther than my own brain and a few India-based blogs.

    Of course, if SM bloggers were condescending to IBD’s or critical of the desh, then they deserve to be criticized. But if anything, they err on the side of boosterism. They sometimes celebrate certain desi things that people of my generation would consider inconsequential. But that’s why I read SM – to find out what a million Indians born and raised here consider consequential about our culture. They err on the side of protectionism. They take offense at some senator’s out-of-context remark about 7-11 owners and turn it into a protest blog. These are not people who take their brown-ness and desi-ness lightly. That is very interesting, not to mention, satisfying, to people like me.

    My plea to IBD’s here is that all of you should try to enjoy the “SM difference.” I know you will always infuse SM with your own “IBD difference,” which is what a lively blog should do anyway. And a suggestion to ANNA – don’t write another blog about a hoarding.

  38. Chanakya I’m Indian-American,grew up in the Southern US for more than 25 years; When you said this:

    East and West and never the twain shall meet”.

    I talked about how I still, after growing up in the US, still want to express myself in Malayalam. Inside myself the east/west always meets, as in so many others. That has less to do with english being a coarse language, then having someone in my house that was very good with mayalee expressions and finding myself influenced by expressions both languages.

  39. Poor diningphilosopher must have got SMed. He has begun practicing apartheid at his blog:

    Thin-skinned hypocrite“:

    This blog is open to invited readers only ABCD pieces of shit and their shameless FOB lick-spittles should go shag on SM…

    After reading a number of his posts there one gets the impression that he is an intelligent, highly articulate, tormented soul. His blog is far more interesting than the usual superficial imitative fluff. He needs to grow up a little though. His obsession with ABCDs (and jews) is clearly unhealthy.

    There is also a basic intellectual dishonesty and hypocrisy that permeates his worldview: its OK for him to criticize anyone and everyone in the harshest manner possible; but any criticisms of India, especially by ABCDs, are unacceptable. While the hypocrite cries copious tears for the plight of palestinians under Zionist “apartheid”, he couldn’t care less for the far worse apartheid of hindu casteism. He has this hypocrisy in common with most of the ABCDs and their FOB “lick spittles” he loathes so passionately.

    India deserves more criticism than practically any other nation on earth. It leads the world in human suffering and human degradation; in hunger and malnutrition; in child slave labor and child sexual abuse; in people without access to clean drinking water and sanitation facilities; in the mistreatment of women; and so on. It is cruel and callous to not criticize India’s massive failures as a nation and a culture. And selfish, which is what I think most thin-skinned psuedo-patriots like dp really are.

  40. Floridian,

    Two things. One, I wish I could hug you right now. And two…

    And a suggestion to ANNA – don’t write another blog about a hoarding.

    What’s a hoarding? :D

    I tell you Anna, you and I both are being attacked for being women writing about personal experiences.

    You didn’t seem to think so here, but we are all continuously formed and reforged by our experiences. Welcome to the one sorority none of us wanted to rush.

  41. A few posts after that, I wrote this;

    OK, then maybe you have a valid case. I guess the worst of the offenses are deleted by the time I read SM.

    So I was with you way back then too.

    So what can be done about this “woman hating” phenomena on the web?

    They want us seen but not read. Photos with no comments.

  42. Who says data is better than anecdotal evidence anyway?

    Common sense, Reason, Science….

    Data includes your anecdotal experiences; but not vice versa. So of course it better. It is selfish egoism to think that one’s personal experiences trump statistical data.

    Such irrational thinking is the root cause of desi backwardness.

    Let this not be a completely left brained arena of expression

    It is a long ways from becoming that. There are far more people here who seem to think that personal anecdotes trump data than the other way round. Here are some examples:

    All my friends and relatives can speak english; therefore most indians are english literate. Fact: less than 10% of Indians are english literate.

    Few of the people in my urban circle care about caste; therefore casteism is no longer an issue in India. Fact: 70% of indians live in villages where casteism is still entrenched. Even in small towns and cities it remains an issue.

    I saw Brett Lee sing a duet with Asha Bhosle; therefore aussies are not racists. Fact: even aussies admit they are a racist society.

    All the graduates from my school got jobs answering phones or coding for western corporations; therefore India is an IT Superpower. Fact: India’s share of global IT is a measly 2%.

    And numerous other such stupidities.

  43. Floridian @ 189, you’ve hit this one right out of the ballpark – you’ve sent it into orbit, in fact. Thank you! And someol’guy – you have great power over words, and phenomenal tenacity – but you’re on the wrong side of this one. You’re trying to have your cake and eat it too, in the argument, and nobody can do that.

  44. I saw Brett Lee sing a duet with Asha Bhosle; therefore aussies are not racists. Fact: even aussies admit they are a racist society.

    Where’s the statistical data on that? “Even aussies admit…………..”??? Yeah, and?

    Even Indian citizens admit their country has got major issues with sexual harrassment. So does it?

  45. One has to wonder about the reason for these erotic carvings depicting various sex acts. I strongly suspect that they were meant to advertise the sexual services available in the Temple grounds. WTH! You have any reasons/studies/etc for your ‘strong suspicion’ or are we just taking shots in the dark?

    How can it be a shot in the dark when the facts of pornographic carvings in some temples, and of temple prostitution (devadasism) in hinduism are well known? Its simply putting two and two together.

    It is no secret that girls were trained to sing and dance in temples, and in many cases provide sexual services as well. Here’s another “shot in the dark”: the song and dance, item girl culture of Bollywood is derived from the singing, dancing, whoring devadasis of brahminism.

    I tried digging up a little on this and found this

    I found this particular explanation from your link really funny:

    There are many interpretations of the erotic carvings. According to some current Hindu interpretations, they portray that, for seeing the deity, one must leave his or her sexual desires outside the Temple.

    Brilliant! Looking at porn is the best way to overcome sexual desires :)

    Buddhists looked at decaying bodies, human skeletal remains etc to foster detachment from sexual desire. That makes far more sense dont you agree?

  46. Well, there is a certain shastra written in sanskrit which gives the peremeters of how a temple should be built architecturally. In there it is described that scenes of daily life are to be carved on the outside so as to represent a leaving behind of the mundane when entering into the meditative temple atmosphere. I can’t remember the name of that shastra now. But I think that is used for the basis of that argument regarding erotic carvings on the outside of temples.