26 July 2009

When people start changing.....

Did I mention that we went to stay with some friends for a month and only just recently moved back in? We packed our bags - Orpi, dog, and I and moved in with some guy friends. You know it was almost like being back in college. We have the two friends, plus any amount of their friends who'd drop in every night, pretty fun. It was like one big party every night.

Anyway, I sensed something different in the air. These friends who are usually rough, hairy, deep voiced, tattooed men behaved a bit differently this time. And definitely looked different.
A friend suggested all of this change is coincidental with the legalisation of gay sex in India. Of course, the guys vehemently disagree the legislation has anything to do with their change in behavior. I wouldn't know, I'm not a Psychologist. But what do you think?


14 July 2009

Funny, funny racist us

I'm really sick of reading about racial issues! It's almost like everywhere I go, people have new things to say about it every day - be it the racist abuse Indian students are being subjected to in Australia, or the Mizoram Chief Minister's comment about being a victim of racism in his own home country (and his rather disappointing subsequent backtracking).

But I still feel compelled to put my two cents in just for the heck of it and add some funny to the morbidness of this overdone topic.

First, our Chief Minister's comment - some guy (Mizo guy) was talking about that the other night. He was really angry about it, which stumped me initially because I didn't think he said anything wrong. But I found out that his dissension rose from the fact that he thought it was not the CM's place to say what he did because he probably never actually faced any of those abuse himself. But personally, I don't think he has to personally face any of it. His speaking for the people he leads is justified totally.

Anyway, as a person who've spent years living both in North and South India, and also considerable time traveling in those areas that are neither North nor South :), and also as a person who spends every day interacting with Australians, and also physically spent some months there, I think I can be excused for writing about things like this even though they are actually way beyond my area of expertise.


I spent over 2 months in Sydney, and at work, because I only deal with the Australian market, I have long meetings - casual talks, important video conferences with Australians every single working day. And I loved my time in Australia, I ate out every day, exploring all the little cafes and restaurants, pubs and bars around where I stayed, went walking in every park I found, had long talks with random strangers...

In some places, I was taught how to eat my pork ribs (with my bare hands), or how to order my pancakes (with bacon!), I was taught that I shouldn't order a Victoria Bitter if I don't want to go home smelling like a certified bum, and that a nice young lady like me shouldn't be smoking like the others around me :) - all by perfect Aussie strangers.

I have a lot of good memories but I truthfully can't think of one single time that people weren't nice to me because I was Indian. People I met that I spoke with long enough usually just wanted to know stuff like how many languages I speak, what I studied in college etc after learning of my Indian-ness. I thought it was pretty cool to be Indian, it was amazing how people just expected you to be smart if you're one. That was the only thing I felt about being Indian - maybe it's my shallowness but I felt you were automatically expected to be a whiz at something - Math, Science, computers..one of those, and you had to bring them down to Earth, and that was a bit sad, and that was all.

And that's all I have to say about Australia and its people.


Our beloved India. Home. Mother ship. Now when was the last time someone hurled racial abuses at me here in my own home country? Hmm, let's see...Hey it was just yesterday! I and a whole bunch of colleagues had gone out for lunch to a nearby restaurant, and while we were walking back, one guy shouted 'Chinky!' at me, and then a second guy 'Nepali!' (Nothing wrong with being Nepali, just the way the shouter meant it - derogatory).

Not a big deal right? Why should it? Happens ALL the time, even kids that can barely utter words will garble 'Chinky' at you. (The way I see it, there are two ways to look at situations like these - be glad you're not that kid, imagine what kind of adult human being you're going to turn into! OR be glad that you're not the parent that raised that kid. What an explanation you're going to have to have before God for your crappy stint at parenting).

When I was just out of college and looking for a job, I was often asked for my work permit, and one time on a telephonic interview I was politely dismissed because 'they didn't hire foreigners.' Some well-meaning friends have tried to help me avoid such problems - "Why isn't your Hindi more fluent? Why isn't your accent more Indian? You're not trying hard enough to fit in" - All of that makes logical sense. But the constitution of India never stated that speaking Hindi fluently, or speaking Hinglish is a prerequisite to being an Indian citizen. Why should I work to worsen my English speaking accent when it's not good enough as it is just to 'fit in'?! :P

Remember that line from the national pledge? "...I am proud of its rich and varied culture." Proud of its rich and varied culture my ass! We like to make fun of any uncommon 'variety' out here (unless it's white skin). Any sort of anomaly is noticed, and made fun of given a chance. Maybe it's ignorance because some of them (what in the world were they taught in school??) don't even know where Mizoram is, some of them even believe with every fibre of their being that the currency of the obscure Mizos is...of all curencies...the famed 'Dollar'!

So who can blame me when I always feel a certain sense of funniness creeping through my marrow every time I hear a passionate speech about Australians treating Indians unfairly, a look-downer complaining about being looked down upon. So I take sneaky glances to make sure I'm not watched and then I laugh. Evilly. I can't help it.

Oh and before I forget, I have to add that my two closest friends here (Tamil and Mallu) agree with me. They say they are abused more in India than in Australia. On this ratio -

Time range of 60 days
India: Australia = 10 (avg) racial slurs: 0 racial slurs


Aah! Our own personal tiny little sea of unadulterated racist and bigoted heaven! The problem (pretty much like overall India) is that we vehemently deny that we have an inch of racist bone in our bodies. Maybe because we really believe that we don't have an inch of racist bone in our bodies.

But the thing is, we are. We sang songs in schools that made us believe that we're particularly gifted and blessed - praising our looks, our goals, our land. We take pride in our Mizo-ness...although I have to admit, there's a lot to be proud of :P (darn it, old habits die hard!).

(On a side note, this is why I really feel for Michael Jackson. People accusing him of being ashamed of his race and trying to remove all traces of it from himself. If people accused me of being ashamed of being Mizo, I would get my Ninja gear out IMMEDIATELY!)

In school, we made it really hard for non-Mizo students to fit in (with very few exceptions). How many of us didn't make fun of the red-ribboned, braided hair of the non-Mizos? Or the smell of heavily oiled hair? We made fun of all those because they were foreign to us.

Comparatively, while it was very, very, very difficult for a non-Mizo kid to be popular in an otherwise all Mizo school, it's not as difficult for a Mizo kid in a non-Mizo school/college/group to fit in. Even though strangers may shout 'Chinky,' 'Momo,' etc in the streets, in my own personal environment - classroom, work, I'm accepted, part of the group, member of anything I wish to be a member of. I'm often the person who starts and wins arguments, often the person who talks and laughs the most, and the loudest, who gets all the right invitations to all the right events. Because they unbiasedly let me.

To be honest, I can't see us Mizos being that open to a non-Mizo that they would ever get a chance to take centre stage.

And here's another example, if a 'Vai' got into some minor problem in Mizoram (eg. unfair taxi fare?), would they dare approach the local police? And if they did, unless they got lucky and found an evangelical policeman filled with the Spirit to assist them, I think it would be quite futile for them. Alternatively, if I do that out here, I know the police will listen to me. Thankfully, I haven't required police intervention too often but I have done it twice, both for rickshaw fares, and on both occasions walked away with the problem resolved - in the Chinky's favour.

As for the screamers, the ones that like to shout the nasty racial words, again out here, I have countless times approached and confronted them. They always back away, or apologise profusely, or meekly deny that they said anything bad. In Mizoram, if you scream 'Vai chhia' and that person is stupid enough to come challenging you for it, I'm pretty sure they would be sent away wishing they'd kept their mouths shut.

So that's it, in my opinion, we're equally bad. I think they're horrid out here, I think we're horrid back home. In the same way that they're wonderful out here, and we're wonderful back home. There are people with warm, open hearts here, and back home too. But racism is such a tricky topic because in our heart of hearts, I believe we're all racist assholes.

But you know, with all that's said and done, I am really, really glad that I'm Mizo because in Mizoram, a poor kid can go to the same school as the rich kids, get the same quality of education, a poor person can marry a rich person, a poor person is as welcome anywhere as a rich person is...

And no Mizo will ever deem another Mizo untouchable...

And your skin colour doesn't describe the quality of who you are, and the person you are, not your caste or skin color, still defines your class.

And I know my neighbors will care about me enough to feed and clothe me if I ever find myself destitute.

We're not any better, but I think we're at least pretty good to members of our own race, unlike other races. And that's really something to think about......

So I don't know who the winner is. But oh, the funniness of it all! We human beings are such weird creatures.

But do we all really even care that much? Me, I'm really concerned about the fact that a strap on my shoe broke this morning - at work, and I already made dinner plans for tonight, and for now my only option is to go with my gym shoes. That worries me more than racial issues.

Sometimes I worry about my silliness, then I read the news and realise that I need not worry about being silly because mankind is with me on this one.

01 July 2009

I HATE waiting for people!

Bored bored bored! It's funny how I am ALWAYS on time, but most of my friends are extremely tardy. Waiting drives me up the walls. It makes me want to scratch the walls and eat paper and plastic. And also forces stupid thoughts into my head. Like how the invention of email must be a real life savior for cacographic people. I'm kidding. I'm just trying to show off the new word I learned recently. I'm reading a book on Etymology and my vocabulary has increased considerably, but sadly, mostly with words that I really have no use for. It's pretty pointless. But I think I'll be better equipped if I ever feel like being an ass and throwing big words around one of these days.

Just to end nicely - a picture from our office prom night themed dinner with all the beautiful ladies I work with.