Stop another racist massacre! Take Action!

slide-04
Stop another racist massacre! Take Action!
I was in a grocery store in a suburb of Plano, a suburb of Dallas.  My very cute little toddler who’s not even two , was walking with a nectarine and a plum in her hands, greeting and smiling at every one as she always does. She greeted this white man with glasses and about a minute later she tripped and fell ; not willing to let go off her fruits she slowly but surely managed to get up on her own. A couple of minutes later the same white guy mumbled to my husband, ” Your kid is on the floor!” My husband gave him a nice smile, and that arrogant brute said, ” and you are not in Mumbai!” My husband was like ” Excuse Me!” That white guy hurried away. I followed him with my toddler in my arms and asked him what he had said, and told him first of all my girl is not from Mumbai, she is a Canadian and that the remark he passed was extremely racist. I told him , “YOU ARE A RACIST”
That man hurried away out of the store because he knew he could get into trouble. He had initially not anticipated that the peaceful Indians living in USA can  put their foot down and take a stand on his cheap racist comments.
This incident made me think that do these people, all the people living in North America, do they know that this is the land of immigrants? Do they know that even if the majority of the people are white, their forefathers have migrated from the European nations? That the peoples of North America have progressed due to their multicultural, multi- race, multi- national population? If each and every original Indian decides to go back to his country , what will happen of the American and Canadian   economies?
When I used to read the news about the racist incidents against the black communities in USA, I used to feel bad, sad and I felt how badly one human fails to see other person as just another human being instead of seeing him as black or brown or dark skinned. But toady I personally felt the humiliation that the visible minorities of the predominantly white populated nations feel.
Indians have been known to make a highly intellectual contributions to the schools, universities, medical and pharmaceutical industry, businesses, finance, law, art and culture, culinary industry and many such aspects  of society in many developed nations like the U.K., Australia, France, Canada, the U.S.A. Middle Eastern nations, Japan, and many other countries. Why do a certain people fail to recognize this? Do they fail to keep their minds open, or do they feel threatened by the developing Indian communities? Why do these people fail to see that we are a peaceful community which believes in mutual progress?
I grew up in India and moved to the beautiful city of Toronto, Canada after my wedding. I came to that multi- cultural city with my dreams and aspirations. The city really welcomed me and made me its own. After moving to Ottawa I had a couple of subtle racist experiences, which I totally ignored, because I still had my open minded white neighbours and families whose kids were friendly with my son. When we made a decision to move to USA, I was pretty sure that this beautiful country with such vast and diverse population will embrace me and my family like Toronto did. Yes ! and it did! But such morons and narrow minded people like the guy I met today ruin the impression of the community,  city and state and eventually the country they live in! What a shame!
We are still recuperating from the Church massacre of South Carolina, and I had to experience this. Will it surprise anybody that with these racist thoughts this guy might be influencing a kid that might one day shoot people in an Indian temple just to kill a bunch of Indians? I make a humble request to all the people of visible minorities: CONFRONT RACISM!
We don’t want another church or temple or mosque or synagogue massacre!

HOME IS WHERE HEART IS!

HOME IS WHERE HEART IS!
I have often been asked, “Where are you from?”, and I feel completely lost. It makes me think where am I from? Why is it so difficult to answer that simple question? Or is it that the question seems simple but the answer is really complicated specially for  someone like me, whose roots are all jumbled up and if they don’t run deep, they definitely run wide much wider to confuse the hell out of me. I am sure there might be more people than you would think in similar situation like mine.
I am originally Kutchi ( not Gujarati but Kutchi). For people who are not familiar with this word, I would like to tell them most of my ancestors hailed from a sub-division of Gujarat that is Kutch. This place is renowned for its desert; Rann of Kutch. ( now you see that page of the Geography text book which described the hot arid deserts of India flashed in your mind, didn’t it?)  Besides that it’s renowned for a special embroidery on colorful traditional Gujarati clothing, also for the devastating earthquake, and the yummy Kutchi Dabeli ( a spicy bun sandwich stuffed with one of the yummiest potato fillings that you can find on the face of the earth) and for the Kutch festival, and for sweet Kutchis like me …lol! Though I have been to my ancestral village a few times, till I moved to Canada, Nasik was always my home!
We Kutchis are very similar to Gujaratis in terms of food, festival, culture, weddings etc. but we speak a different language , and no it’s not a dialect of Gujarati, it’s Kutchi! Our language had a script but it vanished over the years; a subject for good research!  And we are definitely neither just a caste nor just one community. As other peoples in India we have our sub-castes, and communities!
The reason of mentioning and giving the details of ” Kutchi” identity is to give a glimpse of how my first struggle to explain my identity began at much younger age when I used to tell people I am a Kutchi and they would have the dumbest expression! So I ended up saying we are like Gujaratis. And that’s true because we Kutchis enjoy Gujarati music, literature, food, as much as any other Gujarati. The benefit of being a Kutchi is you can fluently speak at least two languages from your very childhood for sure!
Another integral part of my identity is the association with a Kannada heritage! What ?! I am sure now you are so confused that you are raising your eyebrows and rolling your eyes! My maternal grandfather, my nanaji was Kannada by birth, but was separated from his family at  a very young age, brought up with Kutchi family, married a Kutchi girl and re-united to his Kannada family when my mom was about to be born, sounds like a Hindi film story! Eventually my nanaji and his two brothers ended up living in Nasik all their lives. So whenever I communicated with this extended maternal family we ended up speaking Marathi because that was the best common language everyone could speak and understand. So then there were these questions; how come you speak Marathi with your uncles, and cousins and aunts whereas they all speak Kannada, and eat yummy smelling south Indian food , (Pujas and festivities were the times we used to hang together!) I had the best of all these ethnic worlds, Kutchi , Kannada and Marathi relatives, garba and Gudhi Padwa and grand Dusshera! Dhoklas, puran polis and chutney pood!
Then eventually I got married! An arranged marriage between the boy with mixed Gujarati and Jewish heritage and the girl with mixed Kutchi and Kannada heritage! Unbelievable! How can an arranged marriage in India involve four different heritages and two different religions! But my friends it was arranged by God/Destiny/Fate…LOL! No one could deny it. Even till date , almost 10 years after marriage I myself end up feeling intrigued by our extremely different backgrounds! It’s very natural and justifiable for people to ask, ‘ How come such an arranged marriage?’
Before I got married my  home was in Nasik, India. But after marriage I migrated to Toronto, Canada, the city I fell in love with at the first sight and I still love that place! While doing my course  people used to mention to their country of origin as ” back home”. I never felt that way. For me Toronto had become my home, I loved the city so much that despite it being extremely different from the city I grew up in, I associated it with the concept of ‘home’. I always felt nostalgic at the mention of Nasik, I missed the friends and family, the streets,the hills and mountains, the awesome weather, the seasons and their feel and fragrances! But in my heart Toronto had become my home. The city which gave true meaning to my marriage, gave me my first born, my first career in the West, my first snowfall experience, my first tulips and daffodils, and maples and food festivals and my first waterfront home, and first boardwalks,first friends of different colours and races and much much more!
Later we had to move to Ottawa, the capital city of Canada. That city gave me many of my seconds, my second child, second home, second chances at life! It gave me the much sought for freedom of driving , icy roads, loads of snow, second set of amazing neighbours!
Now here I am , in Dallas, Texas, surrounded most of the time by IT Indian families! But wait a minute how many of them are technically Indian? When the people here ask me where am I from,  I don’t know what to say. Am I from Ottawa, Toronto, or Nasik?  WHERE DO I BELONG ? They ask me , ” Where in India are you from? ” I say a Kutchi from Nasik, then  again I have  to explain the concept of Kutchi. Am I Indian, no not on paper, now I am a Canadian! Really how much percentage of me is Canadian? I still eat and cook Indian food, enjoy Indian movies, all my friends are Indians ( originally) But still I am Canadian, coz I love Canada as much as I love India, and I am in America! LOl and I like it here too!
Due to some arrangement I speak Hindi in my family now, with my kids and husband! So now is Kutchi my first language? Yes it is still when I am communicating with my siblings, and mom and other family in India.  But then what is my kids’ first language?Of course so far it’s Hindi! When I speak Marathi, people think I am a Maharashtrian. That I am coz I hail from there! My ancestors hail from Kutch and Karnataka, not me, so I am basically technically a Maharashtrian, right?
Oh My God this is so nice ! I am a Kutchi speaking person from Maharashtra, originally Indian, but a Canadian national who speaks Hindi with her kids and lives in America! This is awesome! I don’t feel this is identity crisis, in fact this is multi -faceted identity!
So I am a universal citizen! Vasudeva Kutumbakam! And the whole world can be my home if in my heart I can feel at home, IF I feel BELONGINGNESS anywhere in this world! The different cultures can be mine! Different languages define me!

Sipping one look

Longing for a hot cup of tea……and warm eyes
just blank and looking right through me
sipping that much waited tea without saying anything,
without even wanting to hold his hand….warm with holding that cup of tea
Just sipping those memories, thoughts, desires, passions,music and dreams……
without expressing them through blank eyes……sipping everything time left behind
feeling all of this slowly through the throat into the heart
sipping one look not so blank not so full, not so mine and not his either
sipping just that look……just those eyes

My Valentine

VALENTINE DAY!!!…….
Oh it was always just another day for me…..a day without my Valentine
I searched him, longed for him, dreamed he would be mine
I felt a cool breeze whispering to me that he is somewhere
But whenever I tried to seek him….. he was nowhere

My days were long , my evenings sad and my nights cold
There were roses and my hands ….but no one to hold
I stopped dreaming, lost my hope ….but still I would pray
Pray to meet my soul mate, to feel him around some day

Oh yes my prayers were heard and my dreams came true!!!
My eyes glowed, I smiled when I first met you!
I found in you my friend , lover, husband…….my life
I am happy and proud to be your loving wife

This year I have my love with me…….my Valentine
My life’s got a purpose with you……..my Valentine !!!!

Indian Spring

When I crush the tender ice below my feet ……as I walk in downtown Toronto
I think of the Indian Spring…..the cuckoo’s song, the smell of Jasmine
The wind chill reminds me of the warmth I willingly left behind
The warmth of my language, loved ones and my past pulled into tomorrow

I walk bundled up in my jacket and reach the intersection of Queen and Bay
I think of the Gulmohar- lined streets in my town blushed into crimson red
Of how the cuckoo’s notes woke me every summer from my bed
The dawn splendidly attired by the gifts of May.

I walk along the frozen lake and think of Godavari’s banksI
think of the long evenings I spent with my friends when I get on subway
I can’t help but smile upon the laughter that rose out of those pranks
A few things left behind and so many to catch on my way

These memories of the Indian Spring lead me into a cold cold winter………
And give me the dreams that I may realise as I crush the ice so tender.