Brown Parent Quirks: Being cheap

Mom: What did you get from the store?

Me: Oh, there was a shirt on sale.

Mom: How much?

Me: $20. Good price, right?

Mom: Too expensive. Should have waited a little longer. Could have gotten it for $5.Can you return it?

 

 

BTW, I have learned to love my parent’s frugality. Must concede that they are right most of the time.

The Vancouver Boondoggle: TOIFA Scandal

Yeah, updating you guys on the TOIFA scandal.

Background

 TOIFA stands for the Times of India Film Awards being held in Vancouver. Basically, the provincial Liberal government is spending $11 million on the whole thing, hoping to attract investments from India. They are also trying to woo the votes from the South Asian community.

Well, what is the problem?   

You can read a little bit about the scandal on this page. Holding an award show to woo ethnic votes is just stupid. It is also a waste of money. The local B.C Film industry is also against this award. I live in Ontario, and the previous Liberal Premier Dalton McGuinty also hosted a Bollywood award show called the IIFAs. They went from majority to minority in the House. I doubt the South Asian voters were thinking of IIFA while voting. The liberals in Ontario were particularly punished by the rural communities. They held their seats in the 905 area but many voted due to fear of Conservatives getting power. My dad is a huge fan of Bollywood and he went to a lot of events to see the Glamorous Bollywood stars. I don’t think he even cared about the Politicians nor was he thankful they held an award show. Plenty of Bollywood actors come to Canada to promote movies and then there is TIFF. There is not a dearth of actors from all over the world coming to promote their movies. The government doesn’t really need to promote Canada in India. Believe me, many Indians know about Canada. That is why it is such an attractive destination for immigrants.

Another thing, both IIFA and TOIFA claim to be Bollywood Oscars. However, that distinction goes to the Film Fare awards held in Mumbai. They have the longest history and the trophies are more coveted. The most prestigious awards are the National awards that are always held in India. So, the marketing over hypes these awards. I am sure plenty of South Asian fans will purchase the ticket to see their favorite Indian actors and actresses but the awards could have been held without government support.

Furthermore, the Globe and Mail posted an article about how some of the staff from TOIFA was making racist demands. They didn’t want South Asian vendors because they would be too star struck.  Umm, yeah.

annoyed

Anyhow, it is up to the people of British Columbia. I guess they will have to evaluate the Liberal government’s performance. If most of them are happy, they will get re-elected and if not, they will see another party in power. Hopefully, during the democratic process aka elections, lessons will be learned. For instance, try to not to buy up ethnic votes using glitzy award shows and stop insulting ethnic minorities. We are no sheep.

Good Friday Canada!

So, this is the Easter weekend and I know a lot of people are probably attending Church. I have decided to enjoy the day and I am not going to post anything substantial. Just wanted to greet all my readers. If you are in Canada, enjoy your long weekend. I will write a regular post tomorrow.

Here, I leave you with a Happy Pony

happy pony

Let’s talk about racism in North America

Ooh, we are talking about a sensitive topic. I think one of the reasons it is so hard to have a proper discussion about racism is that people’s initial reaction is of defensiveness. There are also anti-discrimination laws put into place (for good reason) and people fear losing their jobs. So, people will deny that their behavior was racist. However, the most important reason is that people think of racists as monsters.

I am not racist because I am not Hitler.

I am not racist because I am not Hitler.

 

I do not subscribe to this ideology. I cannot be racist.

I do not subscribe to this ideology. I cannot be racist.

But, nope that is not the reality. Most folks who say something prejudicial and discriminatory are your “average Joe”. They might even be “good people”. They are your neighbors,  friends, and co-workers. Or it might be you. People get defensive when get called on their racial prejudice because they think we are comparing them to the most extreme, hateful segments of society. In their mind, they are not Nazis or part of KKK.

Guess what, when people call you out on your racism, they aren’t accusing you of being a Nazi. They are however stating that your remarks are wrong and very hurtful to that person. In fact, if you are called out on your racial prejudice, introspect on how your remark, behavior and action can affect a person negatively. You might just become a better person after it. Just apologize to the person who feels they have been made to feel inferior due to your careless remarks. Half the time, I see people say dumb things out of sheer ignorance. Refer to my first blog post. People say dumb things because they don’t know better.

Sometimes, people think they aren’t doing anything wrong because they might have a friend from that racial group. For example, I am not racist because I have a black friend. I am allowed to say the N word right? No, you are not. When my brother was in high school, I overheard him say the N word. I was appalled. His reasoning was all my black friends say I can use it. Nope, you still don’t have the right even if they give you “permission.” It is one thing for a young black man to reclaim a word that was historically used to dehumanize them. It is another thing for anyone else to use the word because rappers use it and it will make them seem cool. Guess what, N word isn’t cool. It has got such an appalling history to it. Why would you want to utter such a word? After I explained the racial history behind the word, my brother regretted his speech and has been more thoughtful about his behavior.

We all make mistakes. We all say something stupid out of ignorance. It happens quite frequently in Canada. We have people from all over the world. I have made the same mistake. Learn to accept your mistake and be more aware of your actions. Let’s not generalize or stereotype people. You might have a negative experience with a person from a particular cultural background. Understand this: there are good and bad people everywhere. That individual was negative. Let’s not make assumptions based on their skin color.

 

 

P.S: I don’t think I gave full justice to a topic like racism. It is such a complex issue. I didn’t talk about how racism is a social construct because I am not talking g about it in an academic way. I feel regardless of your race, you might have felt uncomfortable about someone’s remark or you might have been called out on a prejudicial remark.  I just feel we shouldn’t demonize people but educate them and start an honest discussion about race.

Brown Parent Quirks: Sucking at Technology

One of the quirks of my parent that both amuses me and annoys me is their inability to learn and use technology.

Dad: Beta, can you come down please? Beta, Beta, please, come down. I’ve been calling you for soooo long. Come down.

Me: Dad, what?                                                                      

Dad: Can you put this DVD on.

Me: Seriously, Dad you called me for this.

Dad: You guys are so lazy. You do nothing around the house. I ask you to do a little thing. All you do is complain, complain. When you have kids, you will know.

Me: Okay, I’ll teach you again. You click the on button. Then you click open. You put the DVD in…

Two days later

Beta, come down please. I clicked the wrong button. Look what happened to the TV…

So, the cycle repeats itself.

 

P.S: My name is not Beta. It is the Hindi word for son or child. Beti is the Hindi word for daughter. But, since I was a tomboy when I was little, they affectionately sometime call me Beta.

Happy Holi everyone!

Holi is a festival of color celebrated by Hindus in India and Nepal. It is a fun festival that celebrates the arrival of spring. There is also a religious back story to it. You can read more about it here. It was my favorite holiday as a child growing up in India. All the kids in the neighborhood had epic water gun fights. We also used to throw color on unsuspecting people and no was allowed to get mad. It is definitely a mischievous holiday. In Canada  Holi is more low key. There are temples that allow people to throw color on each other but since it is still cold, very few people use water guns. Anyhow, I will be having a Holi Dinner with my family.

I leave you with a Bollywood song that celebrates Holi. I will go back to writing regular posts tomorrow.

Bad Idea: Rape is so ‘lulzy’, let’s use it to sell stuff

So, some advertisement company in India decided to sell Ford cars using this:

ford's misogynist adBecause look rape is so funny and clever. Aren’t you laughing?

Currently India is in news for the gang rapes of Delhi woman and the Swiss tourist .

Women who are victims get constantly blamed for being raped. For the Delhi woman, it was her clothes, and that it was late at night and she was with a male companion who wasn’t her husband. She was independent, educated and was probably going to have a better future then the men who attacked, raped and murdered her.  How dare she be successful and independent?

The Swiss couple were blamed because they were in a rural area and she was wearing western clothes. Oh, and she was white. They are known for their loose morals, those evil western women.

There was also a poor Dalit woman who was raped and the police officer hearing her complaint chided her by saying she was too old and undesirable to be a victim.

Contrast this to the news that a Bollywood actor Sanjay Dutt who was convicted to “five years in jail after upholding his conviction under Arms Act for illegally possessing prohibited weapons including an AK-56 rifle, which was part of the consignment of weapons and explosives brought to India for the 1993 coordinated serial blasts in Mumbai by Dawood Ibrahim and associates.”-Hindustan Times

What were some of the responses by very influential people in India? Oh, it was a mistake. It wasn’t his fault. He was so young back then. He has young children. He is a good person and a good actor.

So, a man breaks the law and is finally sentenced for his crime. People see it as a travesty of justice.

However, if a woman is attacked, burned, raped and mistreated, it is her fault because she should know better.

To dumb advertisers and rape apologists:

fu

Culture shock and the loneliness of being an immigrant

“Beneath the armor of skin/and/bone/and/mind most of our colors are amazingly the same.”

Aberjhani, Elemental: The Power of Illuminated Love

The excitement

I was 12 when I moved to Canada. It was hard to say good-byes to all of my childhood friends, the neighbors and family.  My maternal grandmother is especially close to my heart, even with her wrinkles and crooked teeth, she is the most beautiful woman to me. It was hard to leave her. Despite the tears, I was excited. India was hot, dusty, dirty, crowded, loud, colorful  and familiar. Canada was supposed to be opposite of that. It was the land of opportunities, pristine, cold and exciting. I still remember how excited my siblings and I were during the plane ride. Our KLM flight got delayed for 7 hours at Amsterdam. During that time, we met another Indian family. They were going to be landed immigrants just like us. The couple were doctors and had 2 kids around our age. We played games with each other and were surprised at the diversity of eye colors in the waiting lounge. When we finally landed at Toronto, we exchanged numbers and promised to keep in touch.

Culture shock and loneliness

The first 2 weeks in Canada were a blur to me. We were surprised how clean it was. The roads were wide and people followed traffic rules.  The roof of the homes were shingled and sloped. They weren’t the straight rooftops of the homes in India, where people went up during the evenings and enjoyed the cool breeze. Since, it was fall in Canada, the trees were beautiful shades of red, orange and yellow. I felt as I had landed in a fairy tale.

I had to start school just after two weeks in Canada. I did not feel ready but I was already behind a week. School was the biggest shock to me. There were no uniforms at the public school; kids were allowed to wear makeup. Kids carried skateboards and some of them had piercings even though they were only 13. When I first entered homeroom, I was surprised by the diversity. No one really greeted me because they were already used to new kids from far flung countries coming to their schools. However during lunch, a girl in my class greeted me with a question.  “Are you new? Where are you from?” she asked. I nodded that I was new and that I came from India.  She smiled and told me she was from Pakistan. She was a recent immigrant like me and it was her first time meeting an Indian. It was my first time meeting someone from Pakistan. Being “fobby”, we quickly became friends.  We had a lot in common and she liked Bollywood movies. Coming to Canada, we were surprised to see that everything from our clothing, food to accents was met with derision. Racial slurs were used by some children and for the first time, I experienced racism. Teachers were disrespected and were not allowed to hit the children. In India, the teachers would have whooped their asses.

In order to fit in, we stopped bringing our ethnic food. “Just make me a PB&J sandwich,” I pleaded to my mom. This was before peanuts were banned from schools due to allergy concerns. Money was a big concern for my parents. They couldn’t find a job in their fields because they didn’t have Canadian experience. Eventually, they swallowed their pride and worked in factories as laborers   I was extensively bullied during middle school in Canada. The bullying became so bad that I was switched to another class. It was during the 8th grade, that I found a teacher who helped me rebuild my self-confidence. I went from the kid being constantly mocked to the one who had good grades. I was constantly praised by my teacher. Suddenly, I became the smart kid and slowly kids in the class started becoming friendlier.

The acceptance

It was in high school, I felt I belonged here.  I was more confident and secure. I had learned the intricacies of Canadian culture they cannot teach you in a book. My clothes, my food, and the way I talked didn’t make me stand out. I watched the same TV show as other teens. I understood the popular cultural references. I could now participate in the Canadian culture in a way that felt genuine. After all, very few things fazed me. Piercings were normal, rude teens were normal. Pre-marital sex was normal. Teen pregnancies didn’t shock me. NHL playoff being the topic of conversation in my household was normal.

The couple we met during our first flight to Canada went back to India after their first year. They couldn’t face the hardships, the humiliation. They would go back to being doctors in India. We persevered, and became Canadian citizens. My mother went to India last year. My brother went to Germany. They had a great time in respective countries. However, it was when they landed back in Toronto, they felt relief. They were home.

Dear White Canadians, Brown people like Christmas too!

Okay, I was inspired to write this post after a real-life incident that happened with my Dad.  A truck driver at my Dad’s workplace outright accused my Dad and other minorities for the reason Canadians (meaning him and other white people) cannot celebrate Christmas openly.

Now, I didn’t know Christmas was under a threat. I haven’t heard of any one getting shot in the gut if they uttered the words Merry Christmas in Canada. First of all, there are people from countries like India, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka etc. who are Christians. That means, they go to the Church and celebrate Christmas. On top of that, plenty of Non-Christians like Hindus and Sikhs also celebrate Christmas because it’s been secularized and commercialized to a large extent. I know that in India, Christmas is a national Holiday and plenty of malls, luxury hotels and shops have Christmas decorations. So, no one feels offended when they see Christmas trees and mall Santa Claus.  In fact, everything is prettier and there are awesome deals to have. Also, plenty of Hindus, Sikhs and Jain just leave the Diwali lights on for Christmas. No point of taking it down after just a day; plus the house looks pretty with the lights on.

What, I think that truck driver was talking about was the use of Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas in various public institutions such as the schools. Guess what, if even one parent complains about the holiday because they feel it encroaches upon their religious freedom, good bye Merry Christmas, hello Happy Holidays. In addition, there are plenty of atheists who might feel a religious holiday has no place in a public institution. People might just be overly political correct because they don’t want to offend anyone.

Anyway, don’t be ignorant fools and look forward to the Winter Solstice coming in December.

P.S: I know not all white Canadians think like that. The title is tongue in cheek.

P.P.S: Er, there is a reason I have used the word white rather then Caucasian.  I think this Wikipedia definition sums it up:

Caucasian race (also CaucasoidEuropid, or Europoid) is the general physical type of some or all of the populations of EuropeNorth Africa, the Horn of AfricaWestern Asia/Middle EastAsia MinorCentral Asia and South Asia.[2] Historically, the term meant people from these regions, without regard necessarily to skin tone