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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


    To My Fellow Indians and South Asians

    To My Fellow Indians and South Asians,

    We are here far away from our land, living in comfort and security. We like to go back once in awhile, visit some relatives and travel our own countries as tourists and within a few weeks return to our “real” lives.

    Our parents and grandparents came to America in hopes of providing us an easy-going and fulfilling life. They’ve instilled in us the same qualities that are valued back home, fed us the same food, showed us the same movies, and forced us to go functions involving various relatives and associates, where conversations always seem to start with the greeting “Hi, Beta, how have you been?” We go to temples, mosques, and churches, just like we would back home, feeling proud to be Indian, Pakistani, Bangladeshi, or Sri-Lankan. But can we ever live where they do?

    My blood boils when I hear some ABCD (American-Born Confused Desi) complain about how she hates going on her annual family trip to India because of how hot it is there, or she worries that she might get sick because of the water.

    Look at yourself in the mirror for once, and realize one simple thing — that skin of yours dictates your identity. No matter how much you try to mingle with another culture, the blood that runs through your veins is from the same origin as the woman who sells cauliflower sitting on the street for 12 hours a day to earn 10 rupees, the worker whose bones reveal themselves as he pedals his son to school on his bicycle, or the five-year-old child selling cups of tea at the train station to provide some income for his entire family.

    That is your country, the same country where buildings are reaching new heights; everyone carries a cell-phone, the same country where shopping malls are emerging just like the ones in suburban America. How many times have you become frustrated and laughed off the common white guy question “Aren’t there, like, cows and elephants roaming around the streets in India?

    The problem with us is that we always choose to associate progress with the West, rather this dilemma is faced by most countries in the East. These days when I visit India, I find that one is considered uneducated or backward if he chooses to converse in Hindi rather then English. “Thanks, Dude,” “Oh, that’s rocking,” “Awesome,” are just few of the many stolen phrases that middle- and upper-class Indians utter while chatting with their college buddies. We are all changing, adapting, so are the majority of the people back home, but the condition of the poor man who returns home to his little Jhopdi (“hut”) remains the same, he is oblivious of the supposed “progress” that surrounds modern South Asia. The imitation of Western life has become a reality in India, and its emergence has long come and gone. The irony is that, we sit here, spending our lives at work, as doctors, engineers, architects, or pharmacists waiting for that next Shah Rukh movie to come out, eating loads of sweets at Diwali or Eid, or attending the Garba Raas every October, subtly trying to uphold our native cultures, while people back home are getting more interested in McDonalds, Chinese Takeout, Pizza Hut, the latest Tom Cruise flick, and I myself smirked at this one, “Hot Fudge Brownies.”

    Back home or abroad, the South Asian constantly yearns for something, he feels restless as if he needs to prove something to the world, change himself to gain some standard of acceptance. This seed of inferiority was planted a long time ago, and subconsciously it is present amongst all who hail from a country which was once oppressed. Oppressed on the basis of skin, religion, and culture causing division amongst our very own people. We learn to hate our very own, and look up to the very same people that caused that hate. Russell Peters said it best, “Indians don’t have time to hate other countries in the world, they are too busy hating each other.” The new generation of NRI’s (Non-Resident Indian) are gifted with the burden of freeing our country from the bonds of inferiority and weakness. We must reach the bulk of India, the poor man, educate him so he is free to make his own choices. This is our duty.

    Why must Indians travel to the West to seek a better life? We have the brain power, the technology, and the money to take our country to horizons even the West could never imagine. As Swami Vivekananada once expressed, it doesn’t take millions of men to cause a change within in a country, it merely takes a few hundred good hearted individuals who work without seeking any ends, who work for his fellow man, so he doesn’t not sleep full of hunger at night.

    I am not asking you to give up your lives in America and move to the villages of India to help those in need. I am asking you, rather begging you to think about the big picture for once, and ask yourself some important questions.

    So You, the brown man who chooses to walk around in a backwards hat, baggy jeans which reveal your boxers, hair gelled up in curls, greeting your buddies with a “What’s up dawg” idolizing Jay Sean or Juggy D, take some time to sit down and think how your life can ever benefit another. Or You, the girl who likes to smirk and whisper “FOB” every time she passes by a brown man wearing exceptionally tight clothing, whose face glows of oily skin and un-groomed facial hair, ask yourself if you have any legitimate reasons to feel superior to your fellow South Asian who has just recently arrived to America.

    Think about these things the next time you go to a SASA party and grind the night away with your boy friend to “Chaiyya Chaiyya” the remix version. Ask yourself the important question, do I want to spend the rest of my life living a sheltered existence, where I pretend to be an Indian who stays in touch with his culture with a few trips here and there back home?

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