One of the things that finally convinced me to move to Canada was not my husband, but another man - Russel Peters. The guy's hilarious, although I have to say I thought he was sooo much funnier earlier in his career. Still, can't find fault with a desi who manages to become one of the top 10 earning comedians in the world. Technically he isn't desi of course, he's Canadian, but his parents are desi, so we'll claim his success as our own. We are like this only. Remember Salman Rushdie, Padma Lakshmi, Jhumpa Lahiri (although, isn't she Bangladeshi - oh well same difference), Amartya Sen - the list of people of Indian origin who make it big in the world, who we claim as our own is as long as its wide.
Anyway, I digress. I have a new colleague. She is an Indian girl, from the motherland Indian. She's from Bombay, did her MBA in Pune, although she is gujju. She also happens to be a hijab-wearing muslim. She's a smart, funny girl, and probably the first Indian like that I've met at work. I mean, another woman, similar age, similarly educated, from another big Indian metro. I realize as I talk to her, that really, that's all we desis need to "get" each other. As long as you're of the massive middle class, educated and from a similar sized city, we usually understand each other. Doesn't matter I was raised Protestant/Hindu and she Muslim. We both have our identities. However the stereotype of desis in North American media is as such, that people at our office are tremendously surprised that we actually hit it off.
"Wait, aren't hindus and muslims supposed to hate each other."
"Well, actually I'm a Christian."
"But you're Indian, aren't all north Indians hindus?"
"But muslims terrorize and bomb your people."
"No, actually that's ISI and LET, and they don't have much to do with Islam."
"But she wears a hijab, how can she work? Doesn't her family beat her."
"Its a personal choice. Leave her alone!"
"You're defending her????"
You know, I never actually realized how accepting Indians are until I moved here. I never thought once yesterday of asking my muslim colleagues (there are two - one from India, one from Pakistan) what they would get me to eat for Eid. Really, that's all I care about. Its bakra (goat) Eid after all. They laughed. The Indian girl will get me biryani even though she complained about it. The Pakistani girl has promised to make me sewai. Just like that.
Hearing my demands for food, my Canadian boss asked me if I too celebrated Eid because she knew I am Christian. She sounded so surprised. I told her, the sub-continent culture is very food oriented. As long as there is good food and a holiday involved, we celebrate anything and everything. She laughed. But really, its just that simple. I always had Hindu and Sikh colleagues asking for Christmas cake. The best Santa in office was always the one chubby Jain guy.
I miss that tremendously.
Now if only I can get someone to get me latkes for Hanukkah, I'll be set.