I Got Lucky! Again!

Hello Dear BLOG! reading person. Amidst my barfing and some more barfing, I got some happy news today. I haven’t been crowned Queen (yet) but something even better happened! I got published in Womanist Musings! Again! Learning from my mistake from last time, I’ll just post the link right away. Turns out most of you are too lazy to even click on the supplied link. Sigh. Making an invalid work so much. There has to be a law against this *continues to grumble for some time*

Here is the post you lazy bums!

Us and Them

Surviving in Mumbai is an acquired skill, my grand mum used to say. This city offers hope to millions of citizens to become ‘someone important’, to become rich, to break into the Bollywood industry or make every other dream of theirs into reality. Based on these fantasies, millions migrate daily into the city. If their fairy tales were played out in the real world, they’d crumble in two seconds flat, leaving you feeling bitter and cheated – not unlike the disillusionment Mumbai instills on every (once) dreamy eye. It doesn’t matter whether Mumbai is your hometown or not. You’re just as much a stranger to the city as the clichéd immigrant.

Before you know it, you’ve settled for serving coffee to the editor instead of hoping to be the person reporting interesting stories. Soon enough you realise Living is Surviving. In this process, the city becomes your teacher, making you a person you would have never dreamt of. Or so you reassure yourself.

You learn to adjust to the perpetual humid climate, you learn the correct way to elbow your way out of the crowded trains, you learn to ‘tolerate’ men brushing past you almost daily and perhaps the most important of all, you learn the fine art of ‘othering’.

You learn to see the world in two halves: You and Them.

Every time you see a beggar, you turn your heart into stone, look away. You’ve heard stories about these beggars being addicts, child molesters, and con- artists. You try not to cringe in shame when you see a tiny boy stealing the biscuits you left for stray dogs. You tell yourself, “They are lazy people. Instead of begging on the streets, they should look for jobs”. Soon you have a scale of judging “those people” – you decide whether the beggar looks healthy or not, whether zie looks capable enough to hold a job. Only if they are truly destitute or missing limbs from their body, you give them money. Even then, you look at fellow straphangers in the train, searching for assurance that the beggar truly deserved your charity.

You learn to ‘other’ people from different religions or cultures next. You label people as ‘Bihari’, ‘Muslim’, ‘Tamilian’, ‘Sikh’ or ‘Christian’ based on their attire and dialect. Being next to anyone of those people doesn’t bother you much if you’re in a crowd, bus or train. In restaurants however, you say, “I can’t sit next to those non-veg eating people” and ask the manager to re-locate you. You say, “I’ve got nothing against Muslims” yet you think they “smell”, they are “backward and orthodox”, they are “fundamentalists”. When people accuse you of being biased, you say, “Now not All of them are like THAT. But most of them are”. You claim to be a person sensitive to other cultures yet you will vote for the candidate who speaks your language or ‘prefers’ your culture over others. You learn to turn up the volume of your TV and apathy every time you hear your neighbor beating his wife. You say to yourself, “I can’t meddle with their lives. Besides, they’re a Marwari family. In such cultures, this is bound to happen”. You tell yourself “This would never happen in a Hindu family”.

You tell your child not to discriminate between boys and girls, between gay or straight people; yet you turn up your nose when you see two men walking hand in hand. You tell your children, “There’s nothing wrong in being That Way” but you’ll exclaim in disbelief that a Girl you knew was homosexual. You say. “I raised my daughter as every other boy. I let her play all she wanted. Now, is the time to become a woman and settle down”. You say, “Of course my daughter is educated! How else will she find a decent, educated boy?”. When someone points out to you your bias and sexism, you exclaim loudly, “I’m not one of those uneducated people! I gave my daughter the best education. What more do you want? We have to think practically after all”.

On the news, you see reports of another rape, molestation, murder or numerous other disasters. You quickly blame the “system”, “corporate sector”, “capitalism”, “those lazy politicians”, “western cultures” and say, “This is what this cracked city does to you”. You claim that you can buy and sell morals, integrity and  people out here. You say, “In my time Bombay was paradise. Now it’s a hellhole full of rapists, drug addicts and other low-lifes. They should all be killed”.

Every time I hear these slurs a part of me melts away. I want to scream, “The city has nothing to do with your flawed logic!” but they just say, “These feminist bitches have a problem with everything!”

So now, I have two options: either ‘learn’ from the city and ‘survive’ with ‘them’ or look into my own heart to learn to ‘live’, ‘believe’ and ‘expect MORE’. As it turns out, I’m not that jaded. Yet.

So, the next time, you’re ‘othering’ someone else, remember to not back up your argument with “Those people…” We people nay ‘feminists bitches’ deserve better comebacks. About time now.

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6 Comments

  1. Matt

     /  May 13, 2010

    Interesting post. Good work! Congrats on getting published at WM!

    Reply
  2. Peter

     /  May 13, 2010

    Interesting point of view. Thanks for writing this.

    Reply
  3. Sanya

     /  May 13, 2010

    Here from WM. As an Indian myself, EVERY word you wrote rings out as true. Most of us think it, you wrote it! Thanks jaded16. You are courageous. I expect you must be getting a lot of troll comments for this.

    Reply
    • Thank you Sanya for your feedback. Since this post went up on Womanist Musings, I’ve been drowning in hate-mail. Especially from Indians and South-Asians. You were, unfortunately, absolutely right in surmising that.

      Reply
      • Hey… very well written..

        and what hate mail?! they are idiots.. you’ve captured it well.

        Im not from bombay, but yes everytime I visit it, i hear more of bollywood and the glitz etc.. and yeah it does make one feel stupid to not want to get rich and successful.

        Bt congrats.. and dont be afraid to write!

        Reply
  4. peepleLor

     /  May 16, 2010

    Just want to say what a great blog you got here!
    I’ve been around for quite a lot of time, but finally decided to show my appreciation of your work!

    Thumbs up, and keep it going!

    Cheers
    Christian

    Reply

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