Monday, October 09, 2006

A ‘pinch’ of Brown

Till now I’d read a lot about racial discrimination. About apartheid. About the ‘blacks’. About the ‘dalits’. About the ‘untouchables’. About the great leaders who tried to fight it. About wars. About various genres of music being inspired in slave ghettos.

I’d seen movies like American History X showing a side of the white supremists. I’d read about some of them ‘punks’ here in Poland with their haircuts and swastika tattoos, etc.

But finally when I came face to face with racial discrimination … it was in the form of a sweet looking girl not much older than I am. We went to this restaurant to have dinner … 5 Indians. We sat and ordered whatever we could understand. We were just sitting and talking like any other human being in the place. Then this sweet looking girl comes up to us and asks us “Where are you from ?”.

We reply normally, “India”.
She asks “You’re a long way from home … how come ?”.

We tell her how we’re in Poland and that we’re just traveling in her city.

Then all a sudden ... the sweet smile changed into devilish grin. “Well you chose the wrong country to come !”

Puzzled, we ask, “why do you say that ?”
With contempt in her eyes she answers back, “ because you are not welcome here”

Still confused with why suddenly the world was shifting under our feet, we ask her, “why ?”
And that’s when it hits us when she says very matter of factly with a remorseless smile, “Because you’re brown”.

Whatever happened after that is not worth mentioning. To say the least after a little more conversation we just left the place … with our prides hurt.

The very next emotion that hits you after experiencing something like that is anger. Immense, uncontrollable, irrational and scorching anger. Your mind races, it replays that moment again and again in order to understand what just happened and seeks to answer why the hell … why ? I mean we had done nothing wrong. Beneath our Brown skin we were like just any other mortal sitting under that roof having a meal just like anyone else. And still we were not welcome. Still we had to gather the pieces of our shattered egos and prides and walk away. Irrational. And exactly that is the reason why we shouldn’t have. We try to fool ourselves to believe that we should’ve stayed there and ‘stood by our rights’ only to have been more brutally demeaned later on. Anger.

That night it was just so difficult to sleep. Lying in bed, the transition from a smile to those contemptuous eyes kept reappearing again and again. A big question mark kept knocking on my forehead with a hammer. Finally, somewhere in the midst of a million thoughts and feelings, I drifted away …

The next morning was much calmer. My brain more rational. I re-winded to time since we came here. I met all those nice people again. Normal people. I realized that this was just one bad incident. One in a million that I’d had so I shouldn’t be bothered. I remember reading about the little fraction of people who were like that.

And then I miss home. I remember not remembering a single incident in my country where some white or black or brown or small eyed or big nosed human being was told that he was not welcome. Sure we do harass people … probably for their money or probably some really horny Indian touches a white woman in a place where he shouldn’t have … but then they’re still all welcome. They’re still not told to leave. Sure we may have racial discrimination within our country …. But then that’s here as well ! I don’t understand for what reason the western countries call themselves great while belting out such humiliation to people on the other hand. Yes I am hurt. Still. I know it’ll get better. I know I’ll meet more people here who’ll gradually erase this bad memory. But the lesson still remains. The comparison will still stand tall with my country’s shadow on the others. My respect for my country still increases.

Of course one of my other brown friends also experienced a similar incident … but chuck it.

Thinking about it more rationally. You realize how insecure these people are. Someone’s not welcome in your house only when you consider him in some way a threat. Now whatever the reason may be … superstitious and irrational, religious, economical or whatever … these people just show their insecurity.

Anywayz … I’ve overturned this experience on its head as everything has a good side to it as well.

Moreover, as someone with a more progressive thinking I realize the kind of difference that exist and the cross cultural gaps that need bridging. One realized the kind of challenges facing the third rock from the sun from becoming a whole. One appreciates the efforts of people like Nelson Mandela and countless others in history for fighting something so arbit and irrational and yet so strong. One realizes the greatness about being brown.

Wait for me

A beautiful song by an Indian Band.

The website is a must visit and you can download their songs from there as well.

Here's a sampler ... wait for me

All around me I see light I see the darkness in full flight
All around me, when I touch your face You fly away like the butterflies

Into the night, into the light You never wait for me

Into the night of sunshine Please won't you wait for me

Surrounded in smoke and sound
In clouds of dust I go and drown
In the distance you run again
You scream out loud just turn around

And you wait for me For I couldn't see

you never wait for me
Into the night of sunshine
Please won't you wait for me

Running in the sand, like a free bird
All that you wanted
And you're coming in to land
To fly away again
Into the sand
And you're drowning in the sea
You're alive and you're free
And from the mountains
You will fall but you won't crawl
Never again never again

You my moon
You kiss the waves goodbye
You show your same face to me
Crying, yet so free
And you wait for me
For I couldn't see
you never wait for me
Into the night of sunshine
Please won't you wait for me