Sri Lanka’s alternatives abroad

I co-authored an article with two other members of Lanka Solidarity for Himal Southasian’s special December issue on diasporas. You can find it on the Himal site here: Sri Lanka’s alternatives abroad

We believe members of Sri Lankan diasporas with alternative politics must reassert their claims to space in the conversation about Sri Lanka’s future. For us, this article was one step toward that. We look forward to your feedback, ideas, and yes, arguments–

Cross-posting it here.

Sri Lanka’s alternatives abroad

Are the island’s diasporas to be seen as a source of remittance, a threat, or legitimate sites for political engagement and critique?

By: Kitana Ananda, V V Ganeshananthan & Ashwini Vasanthakumar

There is no such thing as ‘the Sri Lankan diaspora’. Sri Lankan communities exist in the plural. And yet, nearly thirty years of conflict have rendered a nation with multiple minority communities and religions as though it has only two groups. If you generalise about what you read at all (and most people do), you are likely to believe that Sri Lanka’s Sinhalese majority and Tamil minority are pitted against each other, not only inside the country but in diasporas all over the world.

While conflict and geographic dispersal present real challenges to Sri Lankan diasporas, this image of Sinhalese versus Tamil is far from the whole truth. Although the war ended with a decisive victory by government security forces over the LTTE in 2009, the reductive image remains: Sri Lanka, a nation with Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher communities, rarely appears that way. The media is not the only culprit. In the wake of that resounding military victory, both the Sri Lankan government and its critics have failed to engage Sri Lankan diasporas and to understand their complexity. Indeed, their collective actions have excluded diasporic populations.Lankan diaspora histories often begin with 1983, when anti-Tamil violence and the rise of Tamil militancy led to the civil war that displaced hundreds of thousands of Tamils from the island. In fact, a longer and more complicated history of migration is responsible for today’s Lankan diasporas. During the 1930s and 1940s, English-speaking upper-caste Ceylonese who worked in the British Empire’s civil service formed diasporic settlements from Burma to Malaya.

After independence in 1948, new legislation disenfranchised Tamils of Indian origin, who had been brought in to work on colonial plantations during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Many members of that community were subsequently repatriated to India. An attempt to nationalise government administration with the 1956 Official Language Act–popularly dubbed ‘Sinhala Only’–led to the migration of Ceylonese professionals of all communities who were not proficient in Sinhala. Large numbers of Burghers, the community of mixed Sri Lankan and European descent, migrated to Britain, Canada and Australia; Sinhalese, Tamil and Muslim professionals followed, accompanied by their families.

In these transitional decades, there was no such thing as a Tamil or Sinhalese diaspora; but by the late 1970s this was no longer the case, as factionalism escalated within the country. Three decades of state and economic restructuring had not created a united ‘Sri Lankan’ nation, and tensions mounted between a Sinhalese-dominated government and Tamil political parties. Disaffection with the political status quo gave rise to a 1971 insurrection among predominantly rural Sinhalese youths in the south, and growing militancy among Tamil youths in the north and east by the latter part of the decade. University admissions quotas, among other policies, effectively reduced opportunities for middle-class Tamil students and young professionals, who began to seek employment abroad.

Diasporas today

In July 1983, nearly 3,000 people were killed and thousands more displaced over five days of government-sponsored anti-Tamil violence, creating a new wave of migrants. The scale of destruction and spectacular displays of enmity spurred sympathetic Western governments to create special categories for refugee resettlement. As the country descended from ethnic conflict into full-scale war between the government and Tamil militant groups, the tide of migration continued. In the 1980s, as the LTTE rose to supremacy by brutally eliminating other Tamil militant groups, non-LTTE Tamil militants and their families emigrated. Internally, too, the country saw mass displacement of Muslims and Tamils.

The war with the state intensified through the mid-1980s and 1990s, again prompting hundreds of thousands of Tamils to depart. By some estimates, nearly 900,000–one in three–Tamils from Sri Lanka today live abroad, hailing predominantly from the country’s north and, to a lesser extent, the east. India was often their first stop and, for some, their final destination. Others headed to Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia and the United States, each of which offered the possibility of citizenship. Others remain refugees in India, Southeast Asia and Europe. As the war escalated, the pro-LTTE section of the diaspora became famously militant, pouring money into the Tigers’ movement, while their relatives and friends back home lost children, homes and livelihoods. The Tigers even developed an overseas wing, which managed its propaganda so successfully that other sections of the Tamil diaspora were virtually erased from the public sphere.

Admittedly, the largest Sri Lankan diaspora is a Tamil one, which has commanded considerable attention as a result of post-1983 migration, the war, and visible propaganda and financial support for the LTTE among some of its sections. Some use Sri Lankan diaspora and Tamil diaspora interchangeably, but Sinhalese and Muslim Sri Lankans have also gone to other shores amid political crises and economic uncertainty, and they continue to emigrate, predominantly as temporary migrant workers to West Asia. Sizeable and diverse Sinhalese diaspora communities have formed among workers in Italy, professionals in the United States, and several generations of migrants to the United Kingdom and Canada.

Today, some Sinhalese (and, to a lesser extent, Muslim) groups maintain ties with each other and with Sri Lanka through various associations. For some organisations, ‘Sri Lanka’ becomes a proxy for displays of Sinhalese nationalism that make critiques of the Sri Lankan government difficult. Similarly, prominent diasporic Tamil organisations have long showcased arguments for separatism, sometimes accompanied by endorsements of the LTTE. Those who do not agree with these respective lines face isolation from their own ethnic communities.

In May 2009, the war’s end saw the differing trajectories of these diasporas converge in tense confrontations in Canada, the UK, Australia and elsewhere. Thousands of Tamils around the world protested the war and the suffering it imposed. Those waving LTTE flags monopolised media attention, sidelining the message of ‘peace through negotiations’ emanating from other quarters. In response, smaller Sri Lankan groups with close connections to embassies and missions abroad organised counter-demonstrations. Their predominantly Sinhalese ranks also included anti-LTTE Tamils who cheered the Tigers’ defeat and hailed the soldiers who ended the war through military action.

Just remittances, please

Over the course of the war, the visibility of dominant sections of the Tamil diaspora–and their stunning vocal and financial support for the Tamil Tigers–has helped the Sri Lankan government to project the entire group as a terrorist threat. Post-war, the authorities’ attempts to derail a monolithic ‘Tamil diaspora’ have transformed into interest in that diaspora’s sizable collective wallet. In anticipation of a post-war Lanka, the government handpicked leaders and activists of the Tamil diaspora to attend a March 2009 conference in Colombo. At the meeting, dubbed the Sri Lankan Diaspora Dialogue, many of the invitees expressed dismay with the government’s heavy-handed agenda. Even as the government invited some Tamils to return to the island, it has made the following conflicting claims: The LTTE has been completely decimated; the LTTE could re-emerge at any time, and has powerful supporters abroad; the diaspora is invited to engage with us financially; we are no longer a colony, and those who criticise us from abroad have the mindset of colonisers (or support the LTTE).

The LTTE’s claim to be Tamils’ ‘sole representative’–and its well-known allies abroad–is convenient for the government, which wants remittances, not opinions. If it links all its overseas critics to the Tigers, it can dismiss their concerns. As pro-LTTE activists in the diaspora say they will continue to fight for Eelam from abroad (the most visible iteration being the Transnational Government of Tamil Eelam, formed in May following a diaspora-wide election), their statements fuel Colombo’s ire. In retaliation, the government has announced local and international campaigns to gather intelligence, seize assets and shut down the LTTE’s remaining international network. In such a climate of suspicion, the government has been quick to conflate any criticism with support for the LTTE, leaving no room for serious diasporic engagement with the state.

On the other hand, the government does recognise diasporas’ economic and political power, as well as the effectiveness of pro-LTTE activists overseas who have made it difficult for their critics to speak out. Indeed, since the Diaspora Dialogue, Colombo has learned much from the LTTE’s hegemony in diaspora communities. The government sidesteps political criticism by appealing to the desire of many to aid the war-torn regions of north and east Sri Lanka. To initiate development projects in these areas, it turns to ex-members of the Tigers. Former Tiger arms procurer and international-affairs representative Kumaran Pathmanathan now sits under house arrest in Colombo, dispensing advice to the government; his own public rehabilitation was announced with the launch of the North-East Rehabilitation Development Organization, for which he claimed ‘the Tamil diaspora’ was ready to work with the president. In the Eastern province, former Tigers and current government officials Pillayan and Karuna have their names bandied about as evidence of state engagement with minorities.

The power of foreign exchange as a potent resource for post-war reconstruction is not limited to the Tamil diasporas alone. With the war’s end, Sri Lankan embassies have raised funds (more than USD 690,000 to date), mainly from Sinhalese entrepreneurs and organisations, for Api wenuwen api (Be together for all), a Ministry of Defence campaign to build 50,000 houses for soldiers. Opposition groups also mobilise Sinhalese diaspora communities for their own ends. For example, in September, Sinhalese workers in Italy protested the Colombo government’s continued detention of the former head of the Sri Lankan armed forces, Sarath Fonseka.

The government’s latest statements continue to entreat ‘the Sri Lankan diaspora’ to participate in economic development. At the Asia Security Summit in August 2010, Minister of External Affairs G L Peiris said, ‘Our message to the diaspora in the Western world and elsewhere is that they have a dynamic role to play; we do not want them to distance themselves from the exciting developments which are taking place in Sri Lanka today.’ Such pronouncements are made even as the government cracks down on dissent and political opposition within Sri Lanka, and invokes the spectre of threats to national security to silence activists abroad. Peiris, a chief negotiator during the Oslo peace process, has recently argued that earlier talks and attempts at political reform failed due to a lack of consensus among dominant political interests. This top-down approach has allowed generations of Sri Lankan politicians to suppress debate and dissent while claiming to remain committed to political reform, and the same technique is now being used to mobilise the diaspora communities’ economic power.

This dual approach to (particularly) Tamil diaspora communities dismisses legitimate grievances and criticisms. Simultaneously, it invites potential investors to capitalise on the war’s end and selectively wields former LTTE leaders to collect economic contributions from the former. This not only privileges the economically secure and undermines the political engagement of diaspora communities in general, but also silences the many moderates–in-country and abroad –who did not provide unqualified support to the narrow agendas of successive governments or the LTTE. Such groups could not publicly criticise these agendas before, nor are they able to do so now. Instead, they remain sceptical and watchful of the many projects undertaken in their name.

Discounting nationalism

The government’s dismissal of the Tamil diaspora as being little more than LTTE henchmen is not surprising. It is less encouraging, however, when the same attitude is revealed in progressives’ discussions of, and engagement with, the diaspora. The left has largely disengaged from diasporic politics, preferring to direct its limited energies to the battles to be waged in-country. But this myopia prevents engagement with the considerable resources of moderates within the diaspora.

During the war, progressives from all communities attempted to create space within the diaspora from which exclusivist nationalism could be challenged. Emphasising marginalised histories to refute nationalist narratives, these activists deployed the language of human rights and political pluralism. But they largely engaged with diasporic politics because of its importance to politics in Sri Lanka. Now, in the aftermath of the Tigers’ defeat, this effort has atrophied. And by equating the Tigers’ totalitarian politics with Tamil nationalism and the government’s brutal tactics with Sinhalese nationalism, the left only reaffirms these actors’ respective claims to represent Sinhalese and Tamil peoples.

This cedes important ideological and political ground. Furthermore, by depicting nationalism as static, regressive and exclusivist, the left fails to appreciate the varieties of nationalism, its potential as a source of solidarity, and its importance in forging and transforming identities. Indeed, national identity is what ties those in the diaspora–including progressives who would rather identify themselves as expatriate or exile–to politics in Sri Lanka. But from the diaspora various nationalisms can also emerge, where the multiple identities and affiliations of those in the diaspora can fruitfully inform and expand nationalist politics in Sri Lanka. Many Tamils were privately critical of the LTTE’s tactics; many Sinhalese were critical of the state’s growing authoritarianism. Clearly, between the poles there is space for common ground.

Progressives fashion themselves as exiles who, after years in the ideological hinterlands of the diaspora, can return to Sri Lanka and resume agitating for the transformations they failed to secure thirty years ago–as though those intervening decades did not happen. What this has meant among many leftists in exile is supporting a project of authentic nationalism–for some ethnic, for others, multi-ethnic–from abroad, without engaging the communities living in their midst.

Responsible resource

The Colombo government will not successfully engage diaspora communities in large-scale reconstruction if it continues to approach them in the same manner as it did throughout the war. Without a political process aimed at ending minority grievances on the island, many Tamil expatriates will continue to view the government’s embrace with scepticism. More fundamentally, diasporas should not be engaged only because they are deemed useful to ‘real’ Sri Lankan political actors engaged in the serious business of realpolitik. Rather, diasporas should be recognised as legitimate arenas of Sri Lankan politics. To claim otherwise is to reward regimes that neutralise political opposition and silence dissidents by expelling them.

For their part, members of Sri Lanka’s diasporas need to begin a process of critical reflection regarding the last thirty years of war, something that was discouraged amidst calls for solidarity. Instead of forgetting the so-called ‘tragic decades of nationalism’, communities across the political spectrum need to consider their complicity in its crimes, their complacency in the face of its manifest excesses, and their failures in advancing compelling alternatives. Such efforts might be most effective in Sri Lanka, and have begun in various fora there; but, given the significance of the diaspora in Sri Lankan politics and the relatively greater freedoms enjoyed outside Sri Lanka, it is imperative that these conversations happen outside too, and happen publicly.

This political reflection is especially important as the Sri Lankan government woos overseas communities for economic contributions, and contributions alone. Many are understandably excited by Sri Lanka’s post-war economic prospects. And in some respects, economic involvement can be more tempting than political engagement: its requirements are more discrete, its rewards more apparent, and it can look refreshingly (if deceptively) apolitical. In reality, of course, economic development in post-conflict Sri Lanka is subject to intense contestation, with economic fortunes inevitably linked to political positioning (see Himal Oct-Nov, ‘Capitalism contradictions’). Alternatively, the economic clout of responsible diasporic investors can ensure that the war and its bloody aftermath do not get airbrushed away, as in the glossy picture the government and its uncritical allies are so eager to promote.

The diaspora can also promote reconciliation by mirroring it abroad. In the absence of reliable media coverage from Sri Lanka, youth overseas have been too easily radicalised by incomplete histories and half-truths. This can only be countered by collective action to share stories and political pasts. As those private conversations become public, salient criticisms can gain traction through coalitions of progressive voices. Sinhalese, Tamil, Muslim and Burgher activists forming alliances overseas can become a powerful medium for critique and change. Those critical of diasporic extremists have rightfully called for grounding, and for true accountability to those on the ground in Sri Lanka. With action comes responsibility: if we want to work within Sri Lanka, we must listen to those who live there. Sinhalese and Tamil activists abroad must note that certain populations marginalised inside Sri Lanka–for example, Muslims, Burghers and Up-country Tamils–are correspondingly underrepresented in the diaspora. Their interests are Sri Lanka’s interests, and critique of the country must consider and engage them.

Sri Lankan diasporas are an easy target. They are easily ridiculed, their most vocal members often spouting opinions that seem ignorant. Their memories of grievance and grief are embarrassingly fresh, their suggestions oversimplified and trite, their language loaded. Their physical absence from Sri Lanka seems to preclude their involvement in its political life. Their hyphenated identities and modified accents undermine their authenticity. They are not really Sri Lankan–that is, at least, when they do not serve the interests of the ‘authentic’ political actors in Sri Lanka. But they are also an unrivalled resource, with legitimate claims to space in Sri Lankan politics, and filial and financial ties to the country. They genuinely care about Sri Lanka and, in a world with increasingly porous borders, they have every right to do so. Their transnational politics is a product of the war, and they remain connected to Sri Lanka, even though their homes are abroad. Can the country afford–from a practical or moral standpoint–to turn its back on a million people who could contribute to its future?

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268 thoughts on “Sri Lanka’s alternatives abroad

  1. “in this Indian Pepsi ad, the girl on the left looks Indian, the one on the right doesn’t really to me: http://www.adpunch.org/images/kreena.jpg I never see Indian models on tv who look like her: http://thehindimusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/meenal_indian-girl-model.jpg (she’s an Indian model btw)”

    Whoa Alina–for someone who’s had so little exposure to India, you say a lot of things. Both Pepsi girls look very Indian to me. One of them is Kareena Kapoor, I’m not up on all the Bolly chicks so can’t positively ID the other. Really I am quite tired of hearing how someone (usually someone lighter skinned) does not look Indian, is deviated from the norm etc… So much ignorance. Btw I am fairly light skinned myself and I live in Europe and no one calls me European here. And there are many Indians who are lighter than me and some of them, if anything, have more archetypal Indian features (that’s how you identify Indians btw–not by skin color, style of dress etc…) than say a dark-skinned Malayali. (Yes I am aware there are light-skinned Malayalis, my ancestral home is on the Kerala border in the deep deep south. Just mentioning this since people read carelessly.) The other model in red, just turn on TV in South India and you will see people like her. Also because this has come up on SM before (disbelief by some non Indians) Aiswarya Rai looks very Indian. It’s a South Indian look, in fact. I have the same face cut–classic Indian. There is a lot of variety shown on Indian TV though I will admit that North-easterners are not represented. Dalits too may not show up on glitzy lifestyle ads.

    Non Indians have set notions on what is Indian and what is not (not PG, of course, who knows much more than all of us combined). And then, I don’t know what it is about some of these cultures, they’re not in the least embarrassed in displaying their ignorance for all to see, they will start telling you about yourself. I’ve even been corrected on how to pronounce my own name on more than one occasion.

  2. @my_dog: Please don’t put words into my mouth – I mentioned nothing of skin tone in my post and yet you responded with a whole rant about it. In fact, I specifically mentioned facial features/structure. Aishwarya does look very classically indian to me, and she would no matter what color her hair/eyes/skin were, because her face is undeniably Indian. All I’m saying is based on personal observations, the Indian women I see on TV look nothing like the Indian girls I see in real life, which makes me think Bollywood is bent on representing one particular look and not showcasing the diversity India has to offer.

    I notice another poster, an Indian Hindu, agreed with me but you didn’t jump down his throat. I can’t help but notice that on these boards, as soon as the non-Indian makes a comment about India, it’s always taken offensively and the words often out of context. I honestly think if I were to change my username to something along the lines of “Lakshmi Patel”, I wouldn’t have this problem.

    But since you brought up skin tone – it’s hardly a secret that Bollywood has a color complex. To deny it would be as laughable as denying Hollywood and the American media pushes a type of body image unattainable to most American women. It’s not a coincidence that women who look like Mindy Kaling (beautiful, funny, great actress, and yes – Indian) wouldn’t be on magazine covers in her parent’s native country, and it’s not a coincidence that the Dalits you brought up don’t appear in “glitzy lifestyle ads”.

    The other model in red, just turn on TV in South India and you will see people like her.

    LOL of course there are a lot of women like her on Indian TV – that was my point, wasn’t it? That all the Indian women on TV happen to look a lot like her, whereas women of Indian descent in real life…don’t seem to look much like her at all.

  3. Alina, I don’t know if you keep up with news from the UK and the European countries like Sweden that have heavy Muslim immigration or not. I usually don’t either but from time to time am made aware of a new trend.

    It was either here; http://www.jihadwatch.org/2004/09/muslims-rule-major-swedish-city.html

    or a link from there to another website where I read about Sweden’s “family reunification law” and how reforms were to be made in it BUT NOT FOR PEOPLE WHO CAME FROM CULTURES WHERE NOT KNOWING YOUR SPOUSE BEFORE OR AT MARRIAGE WAS THE NORM.

    So the Government there is so liberal and multi-culti-phile that they are willing to make 2 different laws: one for one type of Swede, and another for a another type of immigrant.

    This of course is fomenting resentment in the hearts and minds of the populace who want ONE LAW FOR ALL and who also want to preserve the social fabric of their nation.

    I really don’t get the desire to immigrant to a country which flies in the face of all of your (not you, a hypothetical “your”) values.

    Sweden is feminist, liberal, topless and pro-sexual-minorities.

    This doesn’t jive with “Islamic values”? Don’t go there.

    Mixing cultures that are at ideological odds with each other is a recipe for disaster.

    As the world is learning…..

    Somali Muslim refugees can go to Tunesia, Egypt, Morroco, Pakistan or some other Muslim majority country for asylum. Bringing them to Sweden is beyond ridiculous.

    We liberal Euro and Euro-descended peeps are just too kindhearted for our own good sometimes.

    And stupid.

  4. Thanks for sharing the article, Maryam. I wasn’t aware of any such law in Sweden, and to be frank, I think this has pushed the PC envelope into the brink of being blatantly ridiculous – 2 separate laws depending on one’s cultural background?! It’s nuts.

    Sweden is feminist, liberal, topless and pro-sexual-minorities. This doesn’t jive with “Islamic values”? Don’t go there.

    I think a lot of immigrants come for the economic/healthcare advancements, and those who disagree with the mainstream culture in their new home choose to form their own ethnic communities where they can participate more readily in their own culture. At least this seems to be the case in France, where Parisian suburbs have seen an influx of Arab immigrants.

    I think America has done a better job of dealing with this cultural clash than Europe, tbh. We’re not banning yamulka or burqas, or other symbols of religious expression, but I can’t see Congress creating separate laws for different cultures either. Possibly since our society is so multi-ethnic and we were essentially created as a nation so people could practice their own religion.

  5. Alina, the USA is geographically much larger than France and our immigrants spread out across the land. Moreover the socio-economic level of our Desi and Arab immigrants are higher than the ones going to Europe to take advantage of their socialist systems which pay people to lay on their butts and breed.

    Hijab is permissable but I agree with burqa bans. It’s just too regressive, aggressive and intimidating and there’s no reason why women should have to dress like that in 2010. Don’t give me this “they choose it” rhetoric.

    Moreover, if as they say it’s meant to deflect attention away from them – well, it’s not working. They stand out like Darth Vadar on Pandora, therefore any woman who chooses to wear a complete black burqa in the West is choosing to do so to aggressively advertise her radical religio-political beliefs.

    But I don’t buy they choose do to so.

    Misogynists in their family or masjid pressure them to do so.

    Western governments need to crack down hard on this ridiculousness.

  6. @Maryam – A burqa is really not too different from a nun’s habit (except burqa’s often cover most of the face, revealing nothing but the eyes). Both are religious symbols that pertain to women only. Would you call for a ban on nun’s wearing habits? Personally I hope the US will never have a public ban on any type of religious expression, be it a sikh’s turban or muslim woman’s burqa, etc…. Of course, if private corporations choose to ban it in the workplace, it’s a different story.

    @pg’s grievance – What proposal?

  7. “Would you call for a ban on nun’s wearing habits? “

    The Catholic Church has already reformed that. Only a very small percentage of nuns wear that get-up anymore, and yeah, I wouldn’t be against a ban on that either. But the covering of the face is just – well – I don’t have words for it.

    I loathe seeing Hindu women in India do it too – purdah is still big in Rajasthan, Haryana and U.P.

    Ban. Ban. Ban.

    Call me a Feminazi Fascist if you will. I wear the badge with pride.

  8. I was referring to ” those who disagree with the mainstream culture in their new home choose to form their own ethnic communities where they can participate more readily in their own culture”

  9. “It’s not a coincidence that women who look like Mindy Kaling (beautiful, funny, great actress, and yes – Indian) wouldn’t be on magazine covers in her parent’s native country”

    Alina, Mindy Kaling is not a great example. She is a supporting actress…and a great writer. But not beautiful by Hollywood standards the roles she gets reflect that. She is not on magazine covers in the US either, at least not on mainstream ones.

    Use another example, a movie many of us know ‘bend it like beckham’. Nagra the star was relegated to tv while the more universally beautiful kiera knightly become a heroine in a host of major motion pictures.

    happens everywhere. Hollywood and Bollywood exist solely to maximize profit and viewership; to super-impose any other standard is silly. both sell fantasy not any iota of reality.

  10. PG’s Grievence Walla: I was referring to ” those who disagree with the mainstream culture in their new home choose to form their own ethnic communities where they can participate more readily in their own culture”

    I’ll give my take as someone who slips back and forth between 2 cultures but fits wholly in neither one – people should be flexible.

    I think it should be a requirement of immigrants to try and blend in to the wider community/host culture. That doesn’t mean if it’s against your religion to drink alcohol that you have to. I’m talking about EASY stuff like the way you dress. Drop the burqa. If you only wear Desi clothes like sarees or dhotis or kurtas then mix it up a bit fusion style by wearing kurtas over jeans or a bikini top with your saree like Ash does at Cannes.

    Make an endeavor to fit in.

    I have to do that when I go to India. Indians and others should have to do that when they come here.

    Don’t ghettoize yourself. Mix and mingle.

    Regarding Mindy Kaling – she’s not considered a sex symbol here either.

    I couldn’t get over the woman they cast in the lead romantic role opposite the sizzling hot Denzel Washington in MISSISSIPPI MASALA.

    I was watching it with a Black male friend and said, “no Indian would ever consider her beautiful or the type to put in a lead romantic role” and he was like, “really?”

    Not that’s she’s ugly but she’s not pretty either, you have to admit.

    Lucky her – she got to get somewhat intimate in those love scenes with Denzel!

    I think White and Black Americans are clueless when it comes to Desi beauty. That same Black friend went ga-ga-goo-goo over the most ordinary looking Desi women, and quite frankly ones that would be considered “ugly” and even what is termed “jungli” in Desh – to him they were “exotic”.

    Just like they cast that one Latina (Rosario Dawson) as the Persian Princess in the movie ALEXANDER and forgive me but she looks like what Desis call “labor class”! There is no way Persian royalty then or now looks like that. And the same Black male friend thought casting her in that role was perfectly OK and that she looked “hot” and that I was “racist” for not thinking a Latina of her status could pull off the Persian Royalty role.

    There’s a certain look for royalty and aristocracy and that look is just not it.

    Hollywood has no idea how to do proper casting because they are not aware of the genotypes around the world and dare I say it – class!

  11. I was referring to ” those who disagree with the mainstream culture in their new home choose to form their own ethnic communities where they can participate more readily in their own culture”

    That’s not a proposal – that is, it’s not an idea I’m suggesting. It’s a pattern of immigration that is common in many countries. When a large group of people migrate from one country to another, they often settle within their own ethnic groups. There they can speak their own language, participate in their own cultures, have public festivals, etc. This was true of Irish and German immigrants in 18th and 19th century America, Jews and Italians in late 19th century America, and in 21st century America, it’s true mostly of Hispanic (typically Puerto Rican and Mexican) immigrants and East Asian immigrants who form communities like Chinatown or in Flushing here in NYC (other ethnic groups do this too obviously). It typically takes several generations for any group to assimilate into mainstream American culture. This isn’t an American phenomenon (it’s more obvious here for sure since we’re the land of immigrants): it seems to be occur in most countries where large groups of people will migrate and settle.

    I don’t know what this has to do with the traditional caste system at all, or how the two are comparable….?

    In regards to Mindy Kaling – she’s not a sex symbol here at all, and I didn’t mean to imply it! But she is a talented writer/actress who is a regular on a hit TV show. I would guess that wouldn’t be the case had her parents not immigrated here.

    @Maryam – I always thought Rosario Dawson was really beautiful personally…but she doesn’t look particularly iranian/arab, since she’s a black hispanic

    Also, I couldn’t get over the woman they cast in the lead romantic role opposite the sizzling hot Denzel Washington in MISSISSIPPI MASALA.

    I can’t get over the idea that there’s apparently a movie out there called “Mississippi Masala”! Can’t decide whether to laugh or get it on Netflix. Was it any good?

  12. Alina, The point you seem to be missing is–what’s different/wrong about different ethnic groups in India (call them castes) mixing with each other, as opposed to different ethnic groups in the US mixing with each other? Celebrating the latter and castigating the former seems really biased. If you think a Puerto Rican parade in NYC is ok, then it’s weird to be anti-caste. I’m “pro-caste” (though anti-casteism), and I’m dark-skinned (“jungli”) and not from one of the “forward” castes. But, there’s nothing wrong with perpetuating your culture.

  13. @Seema – I’m not “celebrating the latter and castigating the former”. I have said nothing on this entire thread indicating I “celebrate” the formation of ethnic enclaves in western countries. In fact, I made it clear that in countries like France and Sweden, it causes cultural clash – I’m not a fan. It is also based on discrimination of immigrants of which we have a long history in the USA – again, not a fan of xenophobia and racial discrimination.

    I have also said nothing on this thread about being “anti-caste”. My last comment about caste in this thread was asking if it was part of Hinduism (which someone answered for me). It is strange how you assumed I am for one system and against the other, although I gave no indication either way.

    Second, comparing the immigration pattern I described to the Caste system seems nonsensical to me. It would make sense if the Dalits were a group of people who immigrated to India, chose to form their own community, wer and then after 5 generations of this, gradually assimilated into Indian society and climbed up the socioeconomic ladder, and all of India celebrated their existence with a big ole’ Dalit Pride Parade. But wait, that’s not actually what happened, is it? If I had to compare the Caste system with something in America, I sure wouldn’t use the immigration model Maryam and I discussed earlier (in regards to Muslims in Sweden) I’d compare it to Jim Crow laws or public segregation.

  14. Wow–Alina–you seem intelligent–but–don’t you see that falling into the well-worn script of calling India’s caste system equivalent to Jim Crow is just hating on India?? You claim independent thought but fall right back into well-worn paths of anti-India nonsense. Anyway, the persistence of caste among Buddhists in Lanka, Muslims in “Pakistan,” Christians in “South Asia,” etc., etc. gives the lie to the view that it’s a problem–the fact is, it’s a fact of life–urbanization has done a lot more to tamp down casteism than has the adoption of foreign (Buddhism is not) religions–and casteism is the problem, caste is fine!!

  15. why the hell don’t some of you at least get validate a twitter account or something? though reading shadow conversations are kind of interesting.

    also, ‘bend it like beckham’ was released generally in the USA at around the same time as ‘pirates of the caribbean.’ the second movie is what most americans knew her from at the time. she does have good bone structure too….

  16. Miss Alina is one funny lady. First she confesses that she doesn’t know much about Indian cinema and television, then she goes on to wax eloquently about issues that she knows little about. :-)

    BTW there are plenty of dusky complexioned Indian models . Look up names like Nayonika Chatterjee, Diandra Soares, Diana Hayden, Nina Manuel etc etc. Amongst the actresses google up pretty dames like Chitrangada Singh, Konkana Sengupta, Seema Biswas and Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi from the older generation. I am not a big fan of Indian TV soaps so don’t know any names of Indian actresses but I am sure you will find plenty of darker ones if you watch them.

  17. Alina said: “ I never see Indian models on tv who look like her: http://thehindimusic.com/wp-content/uploads/2007/06/meenal_indian-girl-model.jpg (she’s an Indian model btw)

    my_dog said: “The other model in red, just turn on TV in South India and you will see people like her.”

    Alina replied: “LOL of course there are a lot of women like her on Indian TV – that was my point, wasn’t it? That all the Indian women on TV happen to look a lot like her, whereas women of Indian descent in real life…don’t seem to look much like her at all.”

    Huh?!

    Alina said: “All I’m saying is based on personal observations, the Indian women I see on TV look nothing like the Indian girls I see in real life, which makes me think Bollywood is bent on representing one particular look and not showcasing the diversity India has to offer.”

    Look nothing like the ones you see in real life? Whoa. What do the Indian girls you see in real life look like? And why do you think they are representative of the Indian girls back home, especially since most who migrate belong to only a handful of ethnicities, mainly Gujaratis and Punjabis. Using Mindy was a bad example, Parmindra Nagra would’ve been better. At least, Parmindra looks similar to many Indian; Mindy doesn’t.

  18. obviously this attitude is true of many afghans and pakistanis (and darker skinned south asians also internalize this, perceiving pakistanis to be better looking because they look more west asian and are lighter skinned), but the physical resemblance between themselves and other south asians is great enough that they can go only so far with such racism.

    If by “darker-skinned south asians” you mean Bangladeshis, then I truly doubt it, and if you include south Indians then that’s hilarious, since south Indians find Pakistanis to be hideous. South Indians, in particular seem to have a worse view of Pakistanis than Northern Indians funnily. Especially of their “West Asian features.”

    In my experience, India-Indians (whether Nothire or Southie) and British-Indians have a very negative view on Pakistani people’s general looks. Especially, British-Indians, most India-Indians ignore Pakistanis and just think of them nowadays as looking the same as Arabs and Afghans just darker, which they then perceive it as Pakistanis being ugly. I’ve heard far more positive and words of praise on Indians’ looks from Pakistanis’ mouths than I have ever heard vice-versa! Regardless to say I’ve never ever met an Indian (from India or NRI) who found Pakistanis to be better looking than their own groups ever, and have only met about 2-3 who found Pakistanis to be even attractive or appealing. In general, in India (which I just recently visited) Pakistanis are viewed as ugly; they are also not viewed as being lighter, actually; their features are perceived as being “West Asian” I guess, they are thought of as having big, hooked noses (common stereotype) and long faces and beards; and many think that most Pakistani men or women look like Shah Rukh Khan with a beard and/or a bit darker.

    OTOH, since you mentioned Pakistanis and “West Asian” together I was surprised at how many Pakistanis in the UK I saw looked (to my eyes) as Arab, Afghan or Iranian just much darker on average than either of those groups. Especially, surprising because most Pakistanis I met and most Pakistanis in Britain in general are Punjabi and Kashmiri, not Pashtun, which could’ve explain their look, especially their noses… Most Indians in the UK looked to be Indian/desi and had the same colour as the Pakistanis I saw there, but why were the features of both the groups that different? Most Pakistanis there fit with what old skool anthropology/typology would call “Orientalid/Arabid/Iranid” while most Indians would fit with what they used to call “Gracile Indid/Indo Brachid/Nord Indid.”

    Since you are up-to-date on your anthro. and genetics, do Pakistanis really have exceeding admixture from Muslim rule? What about North Indian/UP Muslims? Because I’ve seen some of them have the exact same features and looks as Pakistanis in the UK.

    • http://www.theimproper.com/16969/actress-aishwarya-rai-protests-elle-skin-whitening-photos Actress Aishwarya Rai Protests Elle Skin Whitening (photos)

      “In general, in India (which I just recently visited) Pakistanis are viewed as ugly; they are also not viewed as being lighter, actually; their features are perceived as being “West Asian” I guess, they are thought of as having big, hooked noses (common stereotype) and long faces and beards; and many think that most Pakistani men or women look like Shah Rukh Khan with a beard and/or a bit darker.”

      Cognitive dissonance is an uncomfortable feeling caused by holding conflicting ideas simultaneously.

      I studied with a class full of Indians, all of them were unanimous about who the best looking people in India were, Sindhis, Punjabis and Kashmiris. However they were insistent that Indians and Pakistanis were just the same and were absolutely not different in looks. But it makes no sense because Sindhis, Punjabis and Kashmiris are predominantly “Pakistani ethnicities” (outside of Srinagir the next biggest Kashmiri city is Lahore). Incidentally Balochis, Sindhis and southern Punjabis (Sarikis) are considered the more “southern” (hence unattractive) ethnicities in Pakistan. Again goes to my point about how Pakistanis aren’t entitled to a separate positive identity. Who are overrepresented in Bollywood? Punjabis (both stripes), Muslim actors (actresses too) and Bengal actresses (cuz they approximate very well to the classical ideals of Indian looks). The first two groups however are predominantly Pakistani looking.

      I was seeing this video two nights ago; I’m Dalit how are you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBxy1R0jitM.

      I was reflecting that these “Dalits” in fact had extremely exotic and prized features, so many of my Gora friends love this sort of look that’s why alot of them like Sri Lankans (yay back to topic). Its so sad that in the subcontinent we have venerated a very false and untrue conception of beauty.

      Elle Indian is busy lightening Aishwarya (who is “light” enough) while Elle Amrika is puting precious on its front cover. http://www.theimproper.com/aishwayra-rai-other-magazine-skin-lightening-victims?page=5

      When will the Black is Beautiful reach all of Asia (East, West and South). Even exists in North Asia I remember describing tanning to my Mongolian friend who was horrified because everyone wanted to be lighter there; eventually she got around and realised healthy looking skin is preferable to an ultra-pale one.

  19. “she does have good bone structure too…”

    Very observant Razib :) Knightly got the pirates role because of the beckham role. Nagra’s career has not faired as well but she has done EXCEEDINGLY well in TV and was likely pulling 40-50gs a month from ER when she was working.

    “Hollywood has no idea how to do proper casting because they are not aware of the genotypes around the world and dare I say it – class!”

    Maryam, Proper casting is whoever the producer/director find attractive/fuckable. One of the big things studios ask producers in meetings is lead actress fuckability: is she a lead that most average men worldwide would lust over. That's it. Top 5 female casting lists are based on this. 
    
  20. On Indian TV the people in the commercials look White. When I say “white” I mean really white. There’s one commercial for a baby product – Johnson’s Baby Lotion or something, and that baby is snow-white! I was shocked when I saw this trend because some years ago the people in commercials were brown, albeit of lighter shade. Not they are a whiter shade of pale – whiter than many White people I know.

    Punjabi men are good looking, the women? Eh.

    Bengalis can be very good looking as well as South Indians.

    There are good looking people all over India as well as ugly ones. The women tend to look better than the men, except for Punjabis it’s the reverse, but when you see a good-looking Indian man, he tends to be VERY good looking.

    I like “classical Indian features” – I don’t care about skin tone.

    But the lighting and makeup they use in the commercials to make browns look white is not attractive. I don’t think “classical Indian features” look good on snow-white skin – which is the effect of the commercials.

  21. Mind you Africans and Latams also suffer from this “whitey complex”. The global South and East are extremely colour, caste and class conscious.

    Its only the West, which is emancipated from these complexes and conscious of them.

    Huzzah to the “goras” who’ve turned introspection and skepticism as an art.

  22. What I find really tiresome, Mr. Latif, is unthinkingly importing Western paradigms to the desh. Preference for light skin is an age-old tradition, it is not a “whitey complex” (that’s just dumb–there’s nothing inherently bad about having a color preference, and nothing that inherently links it to white Westerners. And, I say this as a dark-skinned DBB). Caste is ethnicity, not “Jim Crow.” Yes, the West learned a lot from introspection–let’s do the same, not merely impose their paradigms on a very different cultural substructure.

  23. Seema, please define how you are using ethnicity. Cannot there be people of different castes yet same ethnicity?

  24. Maryam–no, not really. An ethnicity is an endogamous group. That’s what it means that India is “diverse”–there are a whole bunch of different ethnicities. These track caste heavily–and, there’s nothing inherently wrong with it. (Casteism, of course, is bad.)

  25. “I studied with a class full of Indians, all of them were unanimous about who the best looking people in India were, Sindhis, Punjabis and Kashmiris.”

    Aren’t most Indians in Inglistan Punjabis? Sampling problems, geez. LOL, guess why they picked those groups? Those aren’t really the groups MOST Indians are going to vote for best-looking, considering the fact that most Indians I don’t think any non-Sindhi Indian is going actually going to say Sindhis are the best looking, for real. Nor are Sindhis widely considered attractive. So, ha! Sample error. Punjabis are considered ugly in many places in India, so… Kashmiris are considered good-looking widely though, same as they are considered in PAK. It’s mostly because Kashmiris are lightest of all desi groups, IMO, they’re one of the least appealing ones facially. I think the same amount of Kashmiris live in India and Pakistan, so it’s okay. And Indian Punjabis and Pakistani Punjabis looked quite different in England as I commented before; so it could be they aren’t going to agree that PAK Punjus look as good as theirselves. Plus, when I was in England most British Indians with whom I talked with about such inane things told me bluntly that they thought most Pakistanis are ugly. Same with Indians in India, unfortunately. “Pakistanis and Muslims are ugly; they have big noses; scary-looking, etc.”

    “However they were insistent that Indians and Pakistanis were just the same and were absolutely not different in looks.”

    In India, it is the opposite. They think Pakistanis look like Afghans who look like Arabs. Just darker. Like I said: imagine SRK or Saif two shades more brown. They even think Indian Muslims look different than Hindus/Sikhs/Jains/Christians. While many, many Indo-Muslims have “odd” looks and weirdly shaped, big noses, it’s still facepalm-worthy opinion.

    “But it makes no sense because Sindhis, Punjabis and Kashmiris are predominantly “Pakistani ethnicities” (outside of Srinagir the next biggest Kashmiri city is Lahore).”

    Majority of the Indians (even educated, intelligent, “worldly” upper class ones) I’ve met are completely unaware of the fact that most Pakistanis are Punjabi and that most Punjabis are Pakistani (and Muslim). The reaction I got when I told them that majority of the Pakistanis are Punjabi and Sindhi was hilarious and upsetting, simultaneously “OMG, WHAT?!” “NO!!” “REALLY?!” “How can Pakistanis be Punjabi or Sindhi?” “But aren’t they Pakistanis?” “But aren’t they Muslims?” God knows, what they expected Pakistanis to be… Sindhis and Punjabis though may be primarily PAK groups aren’t perceived that way in India at all. BTW, let me repeat again that a big portion Sindhis and Punjabis look very different from their Indian counterparts which might be a result with gettin’ busy with all the “exciting” Pukhtoons in the sack. And that changed sample PAKs may not be very hot to Indians.

    “Incidentally Balochis, Sindhis and southern Punjabis (Sarikis) are considered the more “southern” (hence unattractive) ethnicities in Pakistan. “

    I know. I always considered them to be the best looking people of Pakistani, no offence to all the shomalis. It’s sad how many Pakistanis think most of their own are ugly compared to Pathans, et al.

    “Who are overrepresented in Bollywood? Punjabis (both stripes), Muslim actors (actresses too) and Bengal actresses (cuz they approximate very well to the classical ideals of Indian looks). The first two groups however are predominantly Pakistani looking.”

    You forgot south Indian women. ;-) They are, were and will likely always be more numerous in BW than Muslim women. They too like Bengalis dominate because of their classic Indian features. And can you name an actress other than the godforsaken Kaif who is Muslim and currently popular? Old timers are there but what about now? And you must know why Punjabis and Muslims dominate; you know it ain’t ’cause Indians really like the way Dilip Kumar aka Yusuf Khan looks. You can go read any article which talks about the early day of BW and get why they are overrepresented. Punjabis aren’t even that much overrepresented.

    Of course, SRK, Saif Ali Khan, Soha Ali Khan, Madhubala, Nargis, Dilip Kumar look Pakistani. Just look at their noses. ;-) Their phenotypes (and noses ;-p) are almost non-existent in non-Muslim Indians. Barring Telugu Waheeda who looks classically Indian, IMO. And Shabana and Meena Kumari, maybe.

    “I was seeing this video two nights ago; I’m Dalit how are you http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBxy1R0jitM.

    I was reflecting that these “Dalits” in fact had extremely exotic and prized features, so many of my Gora friends love this sort of look that’s why alot of them like Sri Lankans (yay back to topic). Its so sad that in the subcontinent we have venerated a very false and untrue conception of beauty.”

    I agree very much, but it was that video that you were struck with this fact? Really? It’s so grim and not even good representation of those features. Still, I know so many Indian/desi girls who are considered just plain or plain ugly (’cause they’re dark) by Indians/Desis but drooled on all over by white boiz, called stunning by black guys, etc.

    • The students by the way were DBD (desi borns desis) so they’re pretty representative.

      “Majority of the Indians (even educated, intelligent, “worldly” upper class ones) I’ve met are completely unaware of the fact that most Pakistanis are Punjabi and that most Punjabis are Pakistani (and Muslim). The reaction I got when I told them that majority of the Pakistanis are Punjabi and Sindhi was hilarious and upsetting, simultaneously “OMG, WHAT?!” “NO!!” “REALLY?!” “How can Pakistanis be Punjabi or Sindhi?” “But aren’t they Pakistanis?” “But aren’t they Muslims?” God knows, what they expected Pakistanis to be… “

      This is what I mean by cognitive dissonance.

  26. Agree–my self-esteem took a nice boost with emigration, truth be told–my dark skin is a hit with non-desis in Amrika, whereas in desh I was considered average at best even though I’m very slim.

  27. In these cases, it seems to be a good idea to promote such “western” ideals in India/Pakistan/Bangladesh, what say? ;-)

    P.S. BTW, the “very slim/petite” thing works for most only in Amreeka ’cause most Amreekans aren’t slim.

  28. Yes, I sometimes see tall, well-built, good-looking WAGs (What American Guys) with dark South Indian women who have long, thick, frizzy hair that would be considered a “bheinji” look in India. These women are often very slim/petite and would be considered “too skinny” in India.

    On the otherhand I get boosted in India with compliments whereas in the West I’m average and only get compliments if I glam up which I rarely do so in the West I rarely get compliments. But in India I’m “sundar”.

  29. “Punjabi men are good looking, the women? Eh.”

    LOL, they say that about Pakis, too. But many of the college-going gals I saw in Delhi (who I bet were mostly Punjabi) were beautiful and had “classic Indian features” to boot.

    “Bengalis can be very good looking as well as South Indians.”

    Kannadigas and Malayalees, in particular. Bengali women look exotic at times with their slightly upturned eyes. They’re stunning. Bips has what I think Bengali features are; from the Bangs I’ve seen, except, her feature are a bit more sharper cut.

    “There are good looking people all over India as well as ugly ones. The women tend to look better than the men, except for Punjabis it’s the reverse, but when you see a good-looking Indian man, he tends to be VERY good looking.”

    People say the same about Pakistanis as for Punjus: their men look better than their women. I kind of agree. I think it’s ’cause PAKs and Pinds have more masculine features. While non-Punjabi Indians have feminine features, so obviously the women are going to look gorgeous and the men wonky.

    “I like “classical Indian features” – I don’t care about skin tone.”

    I agree. Big almond eyes, tiny soft nose, small heartshaped face, nice cheekbones – all lovely. Light skin can go to hell compared to these.

    “But the lighting and makeup they use in the commercials to make browns look white is not attractive. I don’t think “classical Indian features” look good on snow-white skin – which is the effect of the commercials.”

    Well Waheeda looked nice in Chaundvin ka Chaand gaana and she looked fully foundation-ed there. Aish ain’t “snow white” but she’s fairly light; and both of ‘em have classic Indian features and look nice. Thing is most desis obviously don’t white-whitey complexions so they just end looking odd with all that photoshop. I’m just being defensive ’cause I’m pretty light.. ;-p Classic Indian features look best with whatever colour, but brown does it justice best, I agree.

  30. Katrina Kaif is the worst looking Bollywood actress right now in my opinion. Her and Hrithik Roshan’s wife Suzanne are both very light without “classical Indian features” and I think they are not good looking at all. Obviously because Hrithik is fair and good looking his family thought that he should made with an even fairer woman in order so the next generation gets even whiter – but Suzanne’s features come nowhere close to the “Greek God” looks of her husband – who should have married Aishwarya Rai – they would make a stunning couple.

    Another very fair Bollywood actress is Karishma Kapoor, who I never thought was good looking either. It looks like she had some plastic surgery done on her face because there is something “odd” about it.

    Rekha and Madhuri Dixit were, and still are, very beautiful.

    The fair skinned Bollywood men like Hrithik Roshan and John Abraham are extremely handsome. It may be that Desi men look better with fair skin than Desi women.

  31. Its very, very easy to have opinions in a vacuum, desis are particularly fond of this.

    But put yourself in charge of a 10 million, 50 million, 100 million dollar budget and then the choices become very real. Think of it this way. How would you cast male or female roles in a film if you knew that if the film flops, you would lose your house?

  32. “Katrina Kaif is the worst looking Bollywood actress right now in my opinion. Her and Hrithik Roshan’s wife Suzanne are both very light without “classical Indian features” and I think they are not good looking at all.”

    I agree, completely. I never got Katrina’s appeal. She looks like a horse to me. Not very sexy, as I pay equal attention to the face and the body. She still has a bangin’ body, though. Her Western looks are what appeals to some, that plus her height, body, mannerisms, smile, etc.

    “Obviously because Hrithik is fair and good looking his family thought that he should made with an even fairer woman in order so the next generation gets even whiter – but Suzanne’s features come nowhere close to the “Greek God” looks of her husband – who should have married Aishwarya Rai – they would make a stunning couple.”

    They could’ve been the Brangelina of Bollywood. Tsk, tsk. And Aish married that Bachchan out of all, ha! Don’t wanna what their kids are gonna look like.

    “Another very fair Bollywood actress is Karishma Kapoor, who I never thought was good looking either. It looks like she had some plastic surgery done on her face because there is something “odd” about it.”

    She looks odd, but I don’t think she went under the knife. She looks like her Mum. I don’t her sis Kareena is any better than her.

    “Rekha and Madhuri Dixit were, and still are, very beautiful.”

    Definitely.

    “The fair skinned Bollywood men like Hrithik Roshan and John Abraham are extremely handsome. It may be that Desi men look better with fair skin than Desi women.”

    I guess it could be so. It runs contrary to what most Indians/desis say, darker men are more tolerated than darker women, ’cause Indian society is patriarchal and all, etc.

  33. Were they from the North? I don’t think Bengalis, Marathi or Malayalees are going to say Punjabi and Sindhis (of all people) are the best-looking

  34. Well, then it’s obvious why those “Indians” found Punjabis and Kashmiris the best. :-D I don’t think even most UP-bhaiyyas would pick Punjabis and Sindhis if polled. Just sayin’ Malayalees will find Malayalees best; Telugu will find Telugus best. Same with Pakistan. Balcohs will always say they are the best; while people will rave on for Kashmiris in both countries. South Asians seem to have the clannish “mine is better than yours” attitude in almost everything (unfortunately).

    • “Well, then it’s obvious why those “Indians” found Punjabis and Kashmiris the best. :-D I don’t think even most UP-bhaiyyas would pick Punjabis and Sindhis if polled. Just sayin’ Malayalees will find Malayalees best; Telugu will find Telugus best. Same with Pakistan. Balcohs will always say they are the best; while people will rave on for Kashmiris in both countries. South Asians seem to have the clannish “mine is better than yours” attitude in almost everything (unfortunately).”

      Interesting..

  35. Speaking of good-looking Desis/Pakistanis/Brown Peeps, Zachary here is not too bad looking himself! But he seems to have a burqa fetish.