A Community of Bullies

In recent years, the Indian community has begun to realize the delicate vulnerability of the childhood stage of one’s life. It’s when our self-esteem, mentality, and personalities are rapidly developing. The important thing to note, is that the utmost influential factor of the development of each of these traits – is a parent’s influence.

Ever notice how it a staple of our community to speak without thinking? This becomes especially true when an adult is addressing a child. Verbal abuse isn’t even considered abuse – it’s just the manner in which most Indian parents “parent.” Children who are misbehaving are degraded in the most aggressive and demeaning manner. It’s common for parents to call their offspring unpleasant names, comment on their physical appearance on the daily, and equate misbehaviour with poor character. If their children aren’t shaping up “on paper,” they’re told they’re terrible human beings.

Forget worrying about what this does to their self-assurance and identity formation. There’s much too strong of a emphasis on how a child or teen appears in the public eye. It doesn’t matter what’s going on behind closed doors or in the inner workings of a child’s psyche. All that matters is that the parents appear to be raising a stand-up kid.

Just from personal anecdote I can describe exactly when and where my self-esteem plummeted. I was born as a very fair and “cute” baby. I stayed that way until about 5-years-old. Then I began school, my nutrition took a hit, and most importantly, I began to play outdoors for longer periods of time. Unfortunately, as my pigment changed (due to increased sun exposure) – so did my self-esteem. But not because I looked in the mirror and didn’t like what I saw, it’s because the adults around me didn’t like what they saw anymore. Their attitude toward me was tangibly different. I just didn’t know what I had done to cause the change.

They would turn to my mom and say, “she used to be so cute, what happened?”  I would hang my head in shame wondering what I had done wrong to go from being celebrated as one of the lucky “white ones” to receiving pity for now crossing over to “the dark side.” 

The Indian community places an unhealthy amount of emphasis on a child’s appearance. Don’t believe me? Just put on a few pounds and notice how many people will comment on your changing waistline. However, if you were to ace a test or master a new hobby, typically no one would bat an eye. The negative is always pinpointed and positives are swept under the rug.

Something needs to change in the way we communicate and raise our kids. How can we stop them from being schoolyard bullies when that type of behaviour is engrained in the very way they are raised? In fact, it is how they’re raised – through verbal threats, taunts, and expressions.

Be careful of how you speak to your kids and allow others to speak to them. Nothing grinds my gears more than when someone comments on my son’s weight, or other physical attributes – it makes me want to go ahead and pick apart all the things wrong with that person’s face.

Imagine throwing it right back at them – I used to be that vocal – but now I think I’ll teach my son to do the fending for himself. After all, it’s rather character defining to be able to learn of the way you can “woo” an easily swayed community or be shunned simply by the manner in which you respond to their adult bullying.

Sajjan’s Fall From Grace

This morning I woke up to a video of the Canadian defense minister Mr. Harjit Sajjan. At first, it’s unclear what is going on in the video. Through bleary, half shut eyes I tried to make out what was going on in the video. I thought, oh dear, was he caught engaging in some promiscuous act? My heart sank, thinking, what has this man done to be caught on social media – what is this act that will cause him to fall from grace? Then I saw him flicking something out the window, “okay” I thought to myself – is he smoking? That would most definitely be something a lot of people would get “up in arms” about considering he is a “Sikh” man – because all Sikhs are otherwise oh so commendable.

And then I suddenly burst out laughing, when I realized that the horrendous act the individual recording the video felt he needed to whip out his cell phone and launch a verbal attack on the minister for was ….

Eating cherries. The minister was sitting in some suburban area of Osoyoos, BC, enjoying some fresh British Columbian cherries – and flicking the pits out the window.

Okay, I get it – it’s a act of blatant disregard for whoever’s property they were landing upon, and it just didn’t look all that professional. But for heck’s sakes – I can’t help but wonder why we as a community get our sh*ts and g*ggles from watching others in vulnerable positions.

The man making the video is pretty much high off this discovery as he excitedly and aggressively attacks the minister. Ever take a walk down 128 street in Surrey, BC – you know what you’re going to see? You’ll see individuals spitting, picking their noses, belching, sometimes inebriated, sometimes arguing with one another – and generally acting in a socially unacceptable manner. Don’t believe me? Just read this article I wrote about “Surrey’s misbehaving elderly.”

Talk about the pot calling the kettle black. The man wasn’t caught doing something horrendously out of character. He made the innocent mistake of disposing of fruit in a way I am 100% certain all apnay have done at some point in time, justifying doing so by saying it’s biodegradable. And yes – he’s a minister, so he has to behave with a certain air of professionalism. But while he’s in his car? By himself? I suppose he didn’t think so many Indians were out to get him. Just desperately waiting for a slip up in order to “oust” him as this hypocritical monster.

Look at the big picture – you finally have a representation of your culture and heritage in the public eye. No, not in movies, not in television, in the Canadian parliament. So what in the world is wrong with your judgement that you want to attack the man like piranhas? Why not leave that to people of other cultures, some of whom I am sure despise seeing a man with a turban and a beard at such a high standing. But who needs to wait for them to bash the man’s reputation? We have internal internet bullies and inverse racism to do the job.

Pat yourselves on the back Indo-Canadians, you sure should be proud of your dire desire to dethrone this man from making those of us with some perspective proud.

The Lit Life | Ep. 04

Here is the latest episode for The Lit Life Podcast. If you enjoy listening to “against the grain” viewpoints and care about issues like racism, stereotypes, and hypocrisy in the Indo-Canadian culture — then have a listen!

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New Podcast Every Thursday!

The Lit Life | Ep. 02

On this episode of The Lit Life I discuss lazy Walmart auntiya, what it means to be called a “sh*tskin,” and what my personal goals for the next little bit are and what I hope yours will be.

Click here to listen: http://youtu.be/KuwG8TjpHYs

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The Lit Life | Ep. 01

In this Episode: Learn about who Amrita Lit is, what the novel Chasing Kismet is all about, and what you’re in store for if you subscribe to this podcast! It’s time to get L I T in a whole different way people…

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The Strength of a Mother

My mother’s always worn a black trench coat
They were a vast contrast to her creamy white skin
Which was a source of both pride and dissapointment
Proud that she looked like one of them, dissappointed that she resembled none of us
But her heart and soul belongs to her own
Replacing aspirations with obligations
To secure a house into a home
Giving each of the pieces of her heart a place to belong
Selfless service seldom met with gratitude
Her teachings pour into every aspect of my attitude
Thank you mother for all you give from within
Because I know there’s scarcely anything left
From which you can pull, when times get hard and your patience wears thin
The eternal and everlasting
Love of a strong poised Indian woman
The shield of her coat
Keeping in the warmth
Closing out the cold
Providing the sanctuary, required even as you yourself grow old

Airline Arrogance – What really went wrong?

This post is in regard to the video circulating around of the man being dragged off the overbooked United Airlines flight – you can bet your ass race played a factor in the manner in which he was removed from the flight.

All too often there’s this assumption that minorities will just submissively accept whatever is expected of them without a challenge. Typically because that’s usually how things go down.

I’m an advocate for people who are dubbed as “dippers” or “freshies” because it is these people who subconsciously think people who are “white” are some how superior and not meant to be challenged.

Think back to times when you were gone somewhere with your parents and they were always afraid to “do the wrong thing” or “disrupt the status quo” that’s because they automatically assumed the RIGHT way of doing things was set by people who belong to the majority.

So many times I see entitled individuals who “speak down to” ethnic minorities. Heck, people within the South Asian community do it too.

Keeping on track with speaking of airlines and improper conduct; I recall flipping my lid at one flight attendant when I overheard her telling a fellow passenger (who was clearly born and raised in India) that the beverage Coca Cola was bad for his kids teeth. Would this flight attendant dare challenge a white passengers request for some Coke to quiet his kid at the butt end of a gruelling 14 hour flight from India to Canada?

Of course not.

But she found herself entitled and exercised her advantage of being a westernized “brown girl” to tell the guy how to parent because he must somehow be in the dark about the unhealthy nature of Coca Cola.

Guess what nitwit air hostess chick – sometimes you just pacify your kids and give them what they want full well knowing it’s not the best thing for them just for a God forsaken moment of peace and quiet.

Feeling entitled and superior to someone because of their ethnicity or appearance is straight up racial profiling.

And just the same way the police statement released by the department to which those officers who dragged that DOCTOR off the plane just had to include the fact he was asian in their “official statement” you can bet their assumption and expectation of him to be submissive and afraid played a role in their violent attack.

Anyway – rant over. Moral of the story, stop judging people by what they look/sound like. Pull your heads out your asses and understand no ones better than anyone else.

For the “dips” — don’t be afraid of people who so excitedly tell you off when you’re in the wrong line up, facing the wrong way, or doing something else “the wrong way” in public.

And for the enablers within their own culture (the ones who feel themselves to be better than their own) stop thinking you’re superior just because your parents came to Canada at a certain time. That very well could be you with the thick accent, screaming kid, and desperate need for Coke or whatever else would placate your kid and get you through a overseas flight with small children.

Just stop judging one another and acting like douches. Okay? Okay! 🙂

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Have a wonderful week everyone!

The Balancing Act

As you all know I recently released my South Asian Fiction Adventure novel titled Chasing Kismet.

Along with many messages of congratulations and praise, also came a few offhand snide remarks along the lines of, “oh WOW I can’t believe this is actually good!” Or “did you seriously write this all yourself?”

-__-

Over the last few years I have developed a thicker skin than my insecure young adult self had (dang, when did I leave the YA zone)? And I’ve learned to take the negative with a grain of salt just as I don’t allow the rave reviews and soaring sales get to my head. Because no one falls quicker than a person whose head gets too big to carry, or someone who just can’t phase out the haters.

None of that is what I really want to talk about here, though. What I really want to explain is that there was no magical shortcut way for me to have produced this book and have something to forever be proud of.

Really – what it took was a big ol’ balancing act of keeping all my priorities and responsibilities straight. It wasn’t easy “keeping all my ducks in a row.” And that’s why they weren’t most of the time. Usually, when you take on too much – certain things suffer while other aspects of your life flourish. The secret to keeping it all together is learning what to put on the back burner and when to switch it up before you totally eff up the “lesser of your pressing priorities.”

For me, what I have to balance is my professional obligation to my husband’s family business, my role as a mother, my personal writing goals, and taking care of myself too.

Now I won’t lie – if I’m kicking ass at one or two of the things mentioned above, I’m usually sucking badly at the rest of it (typically my personal health and appearance takes the biggest hit).

But I still consider it a win if my son’s happy and fed, and if I manage to stay on top of my office work on a weekly basis.

But if you step back from this all- and really think about it, it’s quite funny that men never really have to struggle to find a balance between personal and professional aspirations. Usually, they’re one in the same and quite in sync with one another. For some reason only women have to conjure up some serious inner strength and mental stamina to pull off this seemingly impossible balance act called – having a family AND a career.

The ultimate responsibility of child rearing DOES always fall upon a mother, so any hopes, dreams, and aspirations outside of that role, usually fall by the wayside unless you try your ass off to make sh*t happen.

If you want something badly enough, you’ll find a way to make it all work. I knew from a very young age, pretty much at the age of 11, when I read my first real novel “The Underground Railroad to Canada” that I wanted to have my name embossed onto a glossy cover one day too. The immortal lasting effect of literature was something that just mesmerized me. As did my passion for wanting to create social change, or atleast sparking the mind of the individual who would do so.

So there you have it, a dream was born – one to be a real, actual, “big time” author.

Of course it took longer for me than most to publish this book and I have by no means “made it” in the world of literature. Not to
mention that having a child does throw your whole existence for a loop, and of course I faced countless instances of fret and worry about how I would be viewed as a married woman writing fiction about taboo subjects in my culture – but once you release your own demons, there’s nothing holding you back.

All that’s left is to put your pen to the paper, or in my case fingers to the screen, and let your heart bleed out your truest desires until your dreams become reality.

Purchase Chasing Kismet here: http://www.amazon.com/dp/1540886131

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The United States of Canada

Could it be possible – that we aren’t quite as safe and removed from the reality of our southern neighbours as we believe?

I don’t know about all of you but I for one seem to find myself thanking my lucky stars that my parents chose to settle in Canada rather than the USA right about now.

Since when did the colour brown become the new target of all those born ignorant and afraid? How in the heck have we stumbled upon a time in which men are being shot in their own driveway because of the colour of their skin?

When you read history books – you feel this knot of disbelief when you learn about all the tyranny the nazis got away with against the Jews. And not just in the full blown years of Nazi rule – but the time leading up to that. What exactly did it take to persuade the masses to behave like mindless sheep following the rule of a dangerous dictator?

History is truly repeating itself. Men in positions of power are utilizing their status to create scapegoats, monger fear, and promote hate.

Simply put we are in the thick of racism being once again openly expressed.

Lives are being lost. But how many of us Canadians are afraid when walking out the door? We live in our nice friendly little multicultural bubble.

Right?
Wrong.

Just as those who voted Trump into office hid their true impression of people of colour so do many Canadians.

And the reality the US is facing today could very well be our tomorrow. All it takes is someone like Kevin O’ Leary being voted in – which chances are could happen since we tend to flip between Liberal and Conservative and suddenly we might find ourselves thinking twice before heading out the door sometime in the near future.

It’s so unfortunate that people who are born and raised in a certain country are being made to feel like outsiders. It’s even more heartbreaking that those who came to the land of the “free” to begin anew are being oppressed and attacked.

I really don’t think we’re as far removed from their type of hate culture as we think. It’s in the offhand comments, it’s in the stereotypical statements, it’s definitely floating around the backdrop of many ethnic majority members minds – all it takes is one bold leader to make those closet racists feel confident enough to step into the light – and boom you’re standing in your driveway with a gun pointed in your face.

The masses are swayed so very easily. The marginalized become pushed to the outskirts and branded as the culprits of all that is evil – and those in advantageous positions have the power to behave any which way they please.

So trust me – even though we’re tucked away in our snowy abyss far from the venomous actions being committed in the US – this already is OUR problem. Whether we feel protected by our Canadian identity or not. Because let’s face it – when it comes to choosing who the true badge of being a Canadian belongs to – you can bet your last dollar it won’t be allotted to those wrapped in a turban, burka, or duputta.

It’s all in your head!

Perception is everything.

What’s that tired, over used cliche mean? It means that whatever lense you look through – will determine your fate.

If you think it’s lame to partake in social clubs and philanthropic activities – that’s what will become your ultimate limitation.

If you think studying and getting good grades will somehow demean your character – that’s what will set your life trajectory.

Your perception can be the thing that takes you to bigger, better, brighter places than you ever could’ve dreamed of, or it can be what holds you back, allowing you to only excel as far as you feel comfortable.

Comfort zones and fear of deviating from the norm can be what define your perception.

You might be so wrapped up in desperately wishing not to appear like a “loser” or failure – that you don’t even bother trying.

You don’t go for that job interview, you don’t attend that meet and greet, or even ask that girl out — because you can’t handle rejection or that which makes you uncomfortable.

It is your perception – that hearing the word NO is the end all and be all of your being.

Individual occurrences do not define you, hang ups and bang ups DO NOT define you, it’s what you make of them.

It’s how confident you are to see yourself and the world in a manner that allows you to grow and exceed to your full potential.

Not too long ago I passed up not one, but two entry level scholarships to SFU and UBC simply from the anxiety it brought me to think about joining such large, prestigious institutions.

I had the perception I was not worthy of attending such establishments. I couldn’t fathom the thought of sitting in a 200+ capacity lecture hall, with the potential of being called on. That very scenario kept me up at night the summer I graduated from Highschool.

Now just look how strong my negative mindset was – that it held me back from so many future doors and opportunities which may have been awaiting me. Instead I chose the safe route, the more well known route – a local college.

I write this blog not to reminisce and feel the sting of these poor decisions of yesteryear once again, but to enourage you all to have a positive perception of the unknown.

Allow yourself to be succeptible to failure. Allow yourself to try new things or maybe see old things in a new light.

Because you never know if something you might be dismissing as too grand, or too daunting, or even falsely classifying as being beneath you – might just be your ticket to having it all.