Baggy Silk Pants


I will point out that most Indians don’t give any fucks about whether you dress like them. We actually LIKE it when you do. Remember Hinduism has few restrictions on other faiths despite what the Hindutva say and do. “You can eat beef, I just won’t” is the attitude.

You can wear bindi, sandhanam, flowers, bangles, earrings, nose rings and the like and no matter what you are going to insult someone. And Hindus are going to get upset about a lot of things. I know Indians who are upset about women wearing jeans. Do you eat beef? Congratulations. You are insulting to a Hindu. Pork? A Muslim. You are therefore insulting to most Indians. Bacon Double Cheeseburger is pretty much the most offensive dish on the planet at this rate.

Some of the links here are just plain condescending to Indians… Really. They aren’t kids. Maybe 10% will get insulted about Obama dancing the Tandavaram, but you know what? 90% will be happy that someone thought it was cool. That hinduism is considered normal enough that you can portray people in poses associated with it. There is an article that mentions Joel Stein’s silly break down about brown people, but you know what? A part here that mentions “racist fonts” and I know for a fact all that’s going through my head as an ex-hindu atheist and british indian is “Great font for a take away menu. It was probably FROM one made for a take away. They are the only people who would want a english font that looks like hindi”. And all his article proves is that racists will always exist and it’s easy to be one if you don’t know about another culture. Big whoop, even the concern brigade here are being racist in a different way.

You have posts complaining about “bollywood parties” and why Indians tolerate it. It’s not tolerance but pride in the fact that you want to play with their culture. We want it to be seen. We know it will survive a bunch of white kids trying to “pet dogs and screw in lightbulbs” at the same time. As for the belly dance outfits? That’s weird but you know what? That’s what a lot of Indians wear. Lehenga and Choli is a real outfit in India and that’s a close enough approximation. And you know what? Indian bollywood movies steal a lot of real life outfits and have borrowed belly dancers and the like from middle eastern culture.

And get this through your heads. Indians aren’t all poor. The man who lives opposite to me in India drives a Humvee. My parents invested in property wisely but the house I live in is not small in any world and I am not “poor”. In fact I would be highly upper middle class. There are a lot of pretty well off Indians who go to the west and learn things and take them back to India. Not everything in India is super great. Not everything in the UK is super great. You can learn from each other and culture is not so fragile that it cannot change or suffer from being appropriated. And if anything,  India has done more to kill it’s own “culture” than any number of white women doing yoga in stretchy pants. Or wearing bindis. That’s like saying that we should stop using decimalised mathematics because it’s “cultural appropriation” (II + II = IV). Or that yesterday I culturally appropriated a Chicken Tikka Subway. You know what? I have seen Bill Bailey “culturally appropriate” a Indian band to play music with. All that happened was a new fusion of western and indian music making for a great show. Both cultures got enriched. You know what? A lot of Indian classical music is Sitar or Veena based and the Nadaswaram is a lot more nasal and more of an acquired taste than Indian classical. Want to complain? Complain that most Indian Indians wouldn’t know how to play the damn things compared to most westernised Indians. That’s killing the culture, Not background music to a documentary.Want to get mad? Get mad about that, then go out and fucking learn the sitar. Don’t whine about whitey taking our culture then not doing anything for it.

You hate jokes about curry? Why? It’s curry. It’s one of the most popular food types on the planet. It can defend itself. It’s popularity stands for itself. I don’t see the donner kebab requiring defending on the basis of it’s the food of choice for drunk people (including myself). You hate jokes about Indians owning corner shops? Or driving Cabs? Really? Would you rather they mocked our fascination with “engineering and medicine”? We do own a lot of corner stores, we do run them rather well judging by the sheer numbers we have. You don’t want to hear jokes about how we are hairy? Fuck that. We are hairy. Deal with it. We are like italians in that respect. Good food, we gesticulate a lot with our hands and yes we do have a lot of body hair. It’s a fact of life (Sorry ladies, if I was gay I would be a bear so grizzly that I would have to worry about poachers). You hate it if people “steal” our aesthetics? Why? Come to India, the walls of my house are painted in hospital green. That’s indian aesthetics because a lot of Indians just don’t give a damn. So it irritates me when people suggest there is a single concept of Indian aesthete because someone clearly thought hospital green was an acceptable colour for a wall when it isn’t even an acceptable colour in a hospital!  The ultimate joke is that a lot of the ideas of indian aesthetics are a product of western culture, in the same way that “rustic” is an aesthete based on rural construction techniques. There is nothing wrong with buying yourself some indian aesthete stuff. Hell one of the most british of aesthetes often derided and mocked is Chintz. Or Calico cloth. From Calicut in India. Borrowing a pattern or an idea to use is not WRONG. Someone doesn’t like Yoga being removed from Hinduism? Maybe you should remember that Yoga is mainly a man’s fitness routine. Women rarely got to do it in India but now… Now it’s mainstream. You may hate it when white people tell you about your own culture but you know what I am more insulted by? When brown people don’t know anything about their own culture. White people living the Eat/Pray/Love lifestyle and travelling around India as a spectacle? Really? Would you rather white people still think Indians travel around on the backs of elephants in India because none of them have ever been? And you know what? They are pretty worldly, they didn’t have to do the travel. They did something difficult and out of their comfort zone and learnt something about the world and themselves. That’s their achievement and it’s the very point of tourism. To go to a new place and take in the sights. Venice offers me romantic gondola cruises, food and beautiful architecture. India offers me vibrant people, experience and history. India is not denigrated by white people coming to have a shuftie anymore than the Queen Lizzie’s monarchy is called to question by the throngs of american and japanese tourists standing outside Buckingham Palace. And you may hate it when the civilised world thinks it has all the solutions to “our backwardness” but you know what? You have the luxury of being a relatively rich indian in a western society far removed from the reality of India. Do you really want to come argue that “Oh, whitey cannot understand why we abort female babies” or “Why women are so malnourished” or “Why we have a massive problem with sexual harassment” or “Dowries” or “Forced Marriages”. Really? Because people who thought like this helped protect a lot of abuse because they couldn’t possibly understand how “western ideals could be applie
d to Indians”. There is nothing wrong with taking the best ideas of a group of people and using them to improve your own. It doesn’t destroy your culture, it makes it BETTER. India has improved by adopting a lot of western culture. Gandhi and Nehru were both quite westernised. Without them there would be no India, but a balkanised series of states more interested in screwing each other over than India.

Reading some of the articles and you realise that the people complaining have forgotten one thing. That culture changes. Indian culture of 100 years ago is not the same as today. It’s like NWA complaining about Eminem being white. That rap born out of a pain of racism and institutional poverty is appropriated by a white guy.

Culture changes. It won’t die because a bunch of white guys dress like me or wear a bindhi or even tattooed themselves with Oms and wheels and (fuck it) the swastika. Any more than Indian cuisine will die if you used salmon instead of king mackrel or douse chicken tikka in gravy or shove it into a sandwich.

Yes, we do face racism but you know what? NOT ALL WHITE PEOPLE ARE THE SAME. You have to recognise the line between racist pillocks and normal people. All these posts about India and Hinduism just set out to make any Indian who lies between two cultures feel like a goddamn traitor. Oh, you dated a white woman, you traitor! You just buy into the idea that white women are more attractive. You don’t like bollywood (fuck you! I am tamil, why the hell should I like bollywood? I got tamil movies which are even cheesier and even sillier) you traitor. You just think western movies are superior! You don’t do x, y or z. You like a, b and c. How dare you take your friends out to wear a sari, don’t you know the suffering of Indians who wear saris or bindis?

Yes there are a lot of things that suck like “Fair and Lovely” and the like about Indian culture but you know what? That has nothing to do with a bunch of white people putting indian things on their foreheads or carrying our bags or dancing in movies. That has to do with a society that doesn’t realise that all skin colour is beautiful. It’s due to western influences and the idealisation of beauty but you have to realise one important thing. White people are as exotic to Indians as Indians are to White People. You are just as fetishised as our women are to you.

Do you understand how utterly moronic it is to define a culture by your skin? That by refusing to allow anyone else to partake in your culture you are preserving it’s mystery and it’s status as something that people will NEVER  UNDERSTAND and therefore will never be able to fight ACTUAL racism. Indian culture is thousands of years old and even older than judaism and survived multiple actual destructions of culture at the hands of countless invaders from nearly 900 AD who destroyed culture with swords and death. In the end all who tried got assimilated by India. Because you shouldn’t treat Indian culture as fragile, that’s one of the best bits of Indian culture. It assimilates both ways. For every second you spend whining about how white women shouldn’t wear the bindi because they don’t know the racism you faced for wearing it or the fact that racists have targetted indians for violence you forget it works both ways. That we have taken things from western culture. It doesn’t sound like you are defending indian culture, you sound like the tired white supremacist trying to defend “western culture” from us.

And you think that my culture will fall because you want to wear my baggy silk pants? Shame on you.

My pants are the baggiest and the silkiest…

Comments

  1. Carolyn Moir says

    Fantastic! As a white American woman who practices Hinduism, I get angry comments once in a while about how oppressive saris are, how I will never understand, etc.

    But most of the time I've found people to be welcoming. Many Indians love that I respect and love their culture. The ones who are insulted…I figure they've got their own issues to work out.

    I'm going to link to your post on my blog!

  2. StevoR says

    I don’t see the donner kebab requiring defending on the basis of it’s the food of choice for drunk people (including myself).

    I’ll drink to that!

    Love a good curry myself.

  3. StevoR says

    .. bunch of white kids trying to “pet dogs and screw in lightbulbs” at the same time.

    I’ve heard tantric sex makes one flexible and can work wonders but surely that’s getting ridiculous! Or are they really huge lightbulbs? ;-)

    .. all his article proves is that racists will always exist and it’s easy to be one if you don’t know about another culture.

    On a serious note, I think racism is probably a part of human nature and practically an instinct, one of our nastier monkey brain elements we all have to struggle to overcome.

    And get this through your heads. Indians aren’t all poor.

    Read somewhere I think that India has the world’s largest number of millionaires. I could be wrong, misremembering, out of date or misheard and it could just an urban myth of course, but given huge population that makes a certain kind of sense.

  4. says

    Tantric Sex is one of those hippy things that have little to do with India. Indians follow victorian morality. Women are perfect beings and if you don’t fit that “perfect” standard you clearly are the sluttiest of whores and not a “woman”.

    It’s falling apart now, India is on the verge of a sexual revolution. But Tantric sex is a lot more prevalent in western culture than indian. It’s also geographical practices. It’s east indian. I live in the south so you may as well be discussing german fiscal policy for it’s relavance.

  5. Ms Anne Thrope says

    Great piece. On a bit of a tangent, I find that people are often completely unable to seperate religion from culture, especially when it’s a brown person. So wearing a nose ring and a punjabi makes me “Hindu” not just “Indian”.

  6. Petteri Sulonen says

    I love culture remixes, even with the risk of treading on thin ice. Here’s one I liked; Finnish-Punjabi with some Knight Rider thrown in. Looking forward to reading more from you.

  7. mijan says

    I like the way you think. I’ve always felt that sharing culture and traditions and ideas was the best way to keep them alive, and that people get way too uptight about the lines between cultures. This “yours and mine” attitude is ridiculous in this day and age, when you can travel to the other side of the planet in a few hours, sample foods from around the world within the same city block, and talked to people from a dozen different countries (or more) in a single chat room. I’m glad I’m not the only one who thinks this way.

    I’ve got a mixed background, but I’m mostly Acadian. Most people don’t even know who the Acadians are. They don’t know the dialect, the music, the way of life, the history… so Acadians welcome people and encourage them to participate and learn. An honest desire to learn about other people is a good thing. It wouldn’t diminish Acadian culture if you came to one of our festivals, dressed in traditional Acadian attire and learned some songs and dances. It doesn’t take away anything from us if I share some of our traditional foods and teach you to cook them. In fact, I think pretty much ALL Acadians would be thrilled if more people from other cultures came and learned about us.

    The other thing that boggles me is how so many white folks don’t understand that we’re part of the Indo-European genetic group. Your history is my history. People across the planet (not just the Indo-Europeans, but everyone) would do well to understand as many other cultures as possible, AND to know that our ancestries ALL connect somewhere. Our experiences are so limited sometimes, and our worlds are so small if we don’t interconnect. And actually… I fault many of my fellow Acadians for not reaching out and learning about things beyond their small communities.

    And finally, THIS: “There is nothing wrong with taking the best ideas of a group of people and using them to improve your own.” THANK YOU. Cultures across the world have been doing that since the dawn of humanity. There are things that every culture has to offer, and things every culture could improve. There are people in every culture who struggle and suffer, and people in every culture who are living large. We’ve all got issues. Might as well stop pretending otherwise.

    It’s too late for me to be trying to think on a Friday night while on pain meds. I have rambled far too much, and probably didn’t make much sense. But suffice to say… nice post.

  8. bradleybetts says

    Lol great post :) funny and true! A little incoherent in places, but that’s just your passion coming through. I enjoyed it.

  9. bradleybetts says

    @SteveOr

    “On a serious note, I think racism is probably a part of human nature and practically an instinct”

    I think you’re right. I think it’s fairly obvious that it’s an example of evolutionary mis-firing, a product of the sort of in-group/out-group mentality which is advantageous when living in small family groups. Ditto for stereotyping; if your mate gets eaten by a big orange stripey monster, the next time you see a big stripey orange monster, don’t give it the benefit of the doubt… it’s far safer to assume it too is going to eat you, and run away.

    I have no hard proof for this, btw… it just seems logical to me, from an evolutionary point of view. It’s undeniable that racism and steretyping are fairly universal human traits, and we must have evolved that way for a reason.

    For this reason, I always say that no one should feel guilty for occasioally indulging in a spot of subconcious steretyping. Everyone does it, it just means you are human. What’s important is that you have the brains to self analyse and realise that your hind brain has had a knee-jerk reaction and reality probably does not match up to what’s going on in your head. If you find yourself judging someone on their appearance, the correct reaction is to think “Shut up, hind-brain!” and take steps to get their real measure. It is not to think “Oh I’m a terrible person!”, because that’s just silly. If you find yourself making those assumptions and make no attempt to try and see past them… that makes you a terrible person. A racist is just a person who is too stupid to understand their own motives.

  10. says

    I like this post. I was just posting something of my own along similar lines and I’ll be linking to this page. You couldn’t be more right. People need to get over whether or not they will offend someone else and just live their life. There’s going to be people complaining from every culture and there’s always a troll in there somewhere but that one person shouldn’t ruin your view of the whole race.

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