Archive for July 6th, 2010

By now everyone must have read the article in Time by Joel Stein, where he is lamenting the loss of his old town of Edison, New Jersey to Indian immigrants. Most might have also read this article in Live Mint by Priya Ramani. I cannot decide which one made me more sad, the  fact that an American is lampooning my community for a few laughs, or that an Indian clubs us all into one homogeneous group with the same set of likes, dislikes and bad habits. Actually, I take that back. An Indian saying that about all of us Indians is what makes me more angry and sad.

We all have our way of living. Some of us are more like the majority while some are not. Some of us assimilate in the society we live in more than some others. Some of us like to preserve our roots even though we shift base to a place with a different culture. Some strive to strike a balance between the two. Priya Ramani, on the other hand, clubs all of us Indians together into this group who loves mangoes, huge weddings, are loud, but who also urinate on roads, and grope strangers. She has a right to her opinion, but I am sorry to say that she still hasn’t met us all. When someone  says they do not not identify with the country anymore, I am willing to lend them my ear. Not because I am a firang-wannabe traitor who hates her country, but because I agree that people evolve and they have a right to express their opinion on how they feel. There is no ban on people calling out their countrymen(women) for unfair actions, or actions that hurt people, but since when is loving a humble mango so wrong and detestable? And since when is that on par with urinating in public or sexual assault. I am sorry, but I am unable to get over the fact that being Indian for Ms. Ramani means all of those things. Things that most of us Indians hate, like the obsession with white skin, the spitting in public, the nosiness about others’ personal life etc.

I failed to see the point of her article. If she was trying to be funny, she failed miserably at that. If she was trying to say what she thinks are the defining traits of Indians, as a people, she failed at that because I can show you at least a handful of people who display a few of those qualities, hate the rest of the said qualities, and still identify with being Indian(wonder what that means!) It seems like she needed to write a supplementary article explaining what she meant and what she intended.

On a lighter note, she says, she does not spit in public or private, I just wonder how she brushes them teeth in the morning, because if she indeed does not spit, she must have one stinky mouth!


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