I like writing stuff here, things that do not make for polite conversation. I am just back from a fat Indian wedding reception and I am still hung over by the obscene splash of wealth. Pretty envious and wishing I had that much money to celebrate every occasion of my life with style. On second thoughts, I would use that money to travel but no, if I had that much money I would do both! In anticipation, my fifth year wedding anniversary will probably be a modest dinner at home with a few friends where I will probably dole out my chicken curry, some dal, salads, rice. I love my friends; they never tire of being fed the same thing over and over again. Not that I don’t have a choice to cook something different but it is too much of an effort and this is something I can cook with closed eyes. They qualify as exotic Indian food too. It cannot get more intimate than this, can it? A warm winter evening under soft lights, nice music, home cooked food, friends and conversations.

The reception was as upscale as it could get. We were welcomed with top of the range drinks and variety of nibbles while we waited for the bride and bridegroom to usher us into the ballroom of the five-star hotel where we had our tables with names on. Once inside, more drinks and entrees and even a dinner menu comprising not less than ten desserts. Someone was happy at the choice of sweets. Then there were speeches, but the spotlight were the dances presented by the newly-weds, the family and professional dancers. I didn’t know whether to concentrate on the food or enjoy the dance programmes. At the end everyone was invited to the dance floor where we readily joined. “I just paid xx$$ to learn Bollywood dancing and I didn’t remember a single step,” rued the man. Happy and full, we got back home with a box of sweets, yet another largesse from the host.

I am clearly fascinated by the Indian diaspora in Melbourne, many of whom are no different from the ones in Pritam Pura, Motibagh or Greater Kailash. They follow pretty much the same pattern. They vie for big houses and big cars to up their status symbols, they have arranged marriages, the children are doctors and engineers (only the accent is different, they don’t fail to live up to the expectations of papaji and mamaji), they get picked up and dropped even at the ripe age of 25 and they go for family picnics. Then follow the fat weddings after mamaji and papaji have scanned and studied the family background and standing of the prospective spouse, after which they procreate hybrid of ‘cultured’ offsprings who carry on the ‘Indian values and traditions’. You see they are not tainted by western values and cultures.

It’s been four years since I arrived in Australia and I have yet to see any inter-cultural marriages among Indians. What is more, I have yet to see any of my Indian friends having Australian friends. “They are not like us,” says this friend who arrived here in 2001. Her ‘core’ group of friends comprise Indians who settled here in about the same time as her. And I like the way they whip out the racist card when they have failed to assimilate. Often in our drunken stupor, we have arguments on this. And then I push really hard telling how India is so racist against north easterners, whom they call chinky! I don’t want to be right or win, but that is a fact, and one, most Indians overlook.

I have asked the stupid friend and many others why they left India to come to Australia. The universal answer is “better life for the children” and, of course, in the process creating their own mini-India or their own ghettos. I was on a rant once with best friend settled in another part of the globe on this topic and she said “How their children’s lives are better there I don’t understand….they’re exposed to the same environment at home that they would’ve found in India and academically Indian schooling system is far superior than anywhere else… I’ve met kids here who come to my shoulders but are academically zero because their curriculum is hardly focused on textbook learning. So, all the benefit of giving your children better lives by moving out of India and then bringing them up the same way as you would in India defeat the purpose of moving out of India.”  Something the stupid friend and her ilk will never get in their masala-laced heads. I believe many of these parents are teaching racism to their kids by telling them “they are not like us.” A child is a product of the parents.

I love the fact that I have a wide circle of friends; it enriches my life knowing people from different backgrounds. Incidences of racism are there all over the world but Australia is one of the most successful multicultural stories of our time and that is the beauty of living here. I regret to say stupid friend continues to live the stereotyped life. And it is my celebratory right to say I am so much an Indian only when it comes to Bollywood dancing. For I still get told, “Oh you are Indian, from where? Northeast where? Manipal?” 

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