Today marks the beginning of my February break, the only good thing about living in a place that’s known to have some serious winterness to it is that our winter break is split to get a week in Dec. and a week in Feb. Since a combination of cabin fever and midterms normally have people running on each other nerves at this time of the year, this is fully warranted. And since it’s totally taboo to do work on the first day of break, I watched about 10-12 TEDtalks in a row. I know, I know, totally loser-status but it was worth it.
When I was in second grade, we had a disaster in our school. It was an international school, situated in the hills of South India, in a place completely surrounded by forests (and monkeys of course). A boarding school with discipline engraved on its students’ foreheads. But, some new students had joined and through them, new vocabulary words had slowly seeped into the whole school (“like tea from a teabag”). The headmistress had a heart attack everytime someone opened his mouth, teachers screamed much more often and wooden rulers took on their second and more violent nature! What were those very offensive words? Brace yourself- ‘yea’ and ‘like.’ In a world where answers required ‘yes, madam’, these words had quite the need to be censored. And so they were.
Needless to say, the f-word, d-word, s-word and the other list of alphabetical curses were completely absent from my childhood vocabulary. I first realized this lack in fifth grade, my first full year in the United States. My teacher had made me a “Safety” and it was my duty to walk through the lines of kids waiting for the late bus and make sure everyone was good and disciplined (cough, disciple in the RedWhiteandBlue Empire was a joke). Continue reading →
Islam has always fascinated me. When I was little, I found the muezzin’s calls from the mosque near my house beautiful. I loved to just sit outside, close my eyes and listen. As I grew up, Islam had other significances. Islam was my friend, who happened to have ‘Osama’ as a part of his name and you can imagine the discrimination he has faced. Beat up by mobs, spit at and completely humiliated, he left America last year. Islam was my Hindu friend who found out that she was actually adopted from a Muslim family. She cried more because she had Muslim roots than because she was adopted. I slapped her across the face. My best friend. The poor girl. Islam was the most misstated in that ridiculous History curriculum I wrote of earlier. Islam is my friends from Pakistan, Sudan, Iran, Qatar, Bahrain and the list goes on. And of course I have Indian friends from all different religions. So what’s my point? That Islam didn’t make my first friend a bad person, he endured more than any human being could have and he still didn’t let go of his faith. Islamic roots didn’t hurt that Hindu friend, whose doing fine now and is actually thinking of converting to Islam. And those friends I have, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with them. Yea, I just felt the need to affirm their normalness.
I go to the mall once in a while with my friends. We’d be a group of girls just walking in the mall, sometimes loud and sometimes quiet, but no matter our mood or our noise level, we always seem to attract unwanted attraction. “Hey beautiful!” men, or perhaps I should call them boys, would yell and crowd around us, “Wanna come over tonight? I have a king.” Continue reading →
“There’s something pitiable about a people that constantly bemoans its leaders. If they’ve let us down, it’s only because we’ve allowed them to. It could be argued that civil society has failed its leaders as much as leaders have failed civil society. We have to accept that there is a dangerous, systemic flaw in our parliamentary democracy that politicians will exploit. ” – Arundhati Roy, The Algebra of Infinite Injustice.
Today, Indian politics often seems to be just another topic to joke about at the dinner table. Something for the Eastern world to laugh at and the Western world to stare at, utterly confused. If an outsider is looking for anything else to be confused about in India (other than of course the religious hypocrisy and the various vernaculars), he can find it in politics. For me, as an outsider-insider Indian looking at my own nation from half way across the world.. you can only imagine my confusion. Continue reading →
Is American blood really special? Sweeter, perhaps? Does it have more color than that of a deprived non-citizen? Why then do we count only attacks on America? Why do we find it so easy to ignore its offenses? The thousands it constantly continues to kill. The hundreds who ‘disappear’ from the face of the earth. Just like that. How many has the U.S killed in retaliation for 9/11? How many innocent lives have been lost for this false idea of revenge?
Imagine a hot day. Sunny perhaps, with just the right amount of wind. You are walking home quite happily today. After all, exams will end tomorrow and in another month… the long awaited graduation! Finally, you will have your degree. Finally, you can enter the real world. Suddenly, as you are walking, a group of men surrounds you. They ask you for your name. You answer, a little confused and a little more, scared. They order you to come with them; and when you open your mouth to question, pull you down and drag you to a van. Dark blue with a touch of white. You recognize the van. From a documentary you had recently seen. You realize, with rising terror, that undercover members of the American Intelligence had arrested you. Continue reading →