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!

Don’t forget to share your reaction in the comments section, subscribe to my YouTube channel, and like my Facebook page – Amrita Literature.

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

  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/amritaliterature
  • Instagram: www.instagram.com/amritaliterature
  • Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-765328127/episode-2
  • Youtube: https://youtu.be/KuwG8TjpHYs

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…

  • Facebook: www.facebook.com/amritaliterature
  • Instagram: www.instagram.com/amritaliterature
  • Soundcloud: https://soundcloud.com/user-765328127/the-lit-life-episode01
  • Youtube: https://youtu.be/TQiiNjELMqE

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! 🙂

To read more articles by Amrita Literature please follow: www.facebook.com/AmritaLiterature.

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

Like my page on FB: www.facebook.com/amritaliterature 

Follow me on Instagram: www.instagram.com/amritaliterature 

 

Backyard Bullies

Oftentimes, it’s easy to think of bullying as being something which originates from an individual much different from the target. Unfortunately so, there is a common phenomenon currently occurring for bullies to be targeting individuals who are “one of their own.”

These instigators may not be aware that they’re demeaning someone who is absolutely no different than themselves, and just how detrimentally damaging their behaviour may be.

Call it a defence mechanism, ignorance, or a result of a poor upbringing. But whatever it is – it’s causing newly immigrated South Asian children to feel ostracized and inferior to their peers.

Time and time again, the concept of those dubbed as “dippers” or “freshies” is always used as a manner to classify the “acceptable Indians” from the ones who are deemed unworthy of inclusion.

To make matters even worse, these taunts and blatant in school emotional antagonism is nearly always instigated by South Asian second generation immigrant children, toward first generation South Asian children.

It’s no surprise that this tendency is all too frequent in our schools, since the mass media portrays all Indians in such a unfavourable manner. The smell of curry and thick accents are synonymous with dark brown skin and hair. This drives western born offspring to become vehemently defensive of their own identities – causing them to wish to differentiate themselves from this portrayal of Indians.

It’s essential for our youth to understand that a kid may dress or speak a little differently from them as a result of the environment they’ve grown up in, or because they truly did just immigrate to Canada from India. It is crucial to engraving the notion that it is never acceptable to make these vulnerable individuals feel inferior simply because of who appear to be.

Certain aspects which are a part newly immigrated or less acculturated children’s lives, and are only a small part of their social self becomes pitted against them. This crumpled the odds of them having a well structured social life. It also sets the tone of their life trajectory.

It’s time to stop this phenomenon and educate your children about how excruciatingly hurtful such things can be for someone who may already be well aware of the subtle differences in their persona. Perhaps your child isn’t the instigator – but it’s everyone’s responsibility to ensure kindness is at the forefront of their offsprings behaviour each and every day in and out of a school setting –regardless of if they think they’re “too good” to be classified with the kids who are actually in fact just like them.

Believe it or not, when you dig beneath the surface, typically we all wish for the same things in life (more or less). Less assimilated individuals are just children (and maybe even some grown-ups) who want the same thing the “more westernized” groups of society desire – acceptance.

Remind your children (and yourselves) that there’s no need to shift the spotlight onto an easier target in order to protect ones own self from being attacked. Rather, enlighten them on the importance of challenging commonly accepted stereotypes and demeaning portrayal of East Indians rather than support them by partaking in the quest to alienate those who don’t fit in with “the majority.”

Being a minority doesn’t have to mean to be on constant guard, it just means we have to be one step ahead the masses and not allow anyone bash those whom we share our roots with.

Happily Never After – The Truth About Indian Relationships

I’ve been in a relationship ever since chingy was the number one artist in the world of Hip Hop and R&B. My singificant other and I skipped school together, grew our own identities yet managed to remain close, and formed a rollarcoaster of a life including a hoot of a three year marriage and a rambunctious little one year old.

Every now and then I come across someone who tells me how so very LUCKY I am to have a husband. As if it’s a rare jackpot of a scenario to find and marry someone you can actually stand (for the most part). When I ask these subtly glum individuals if they’re seeing anyone or getting married soon – since they’re typically my peers or slightly younger – they simply respond that “there’s no good (guys or girls) left out there.”

I usually can’t comprehend exactly what this means. “Good” meaning they do their own dishes and mind their p’s and q’s? Or good as in meet their checklist of standards for their dream significant other? Then I’m usually forced to listen to their horror stories of past relationship failures and cringeworthy stories of the dating world (aka club scene) in Vancouver.

I just can’t help but wonder, where have all the good girls and guys gone to hideaway?

If there’s a seemingly equal amount of guys and girls on the prowl, who are all looking to settle down with smart, attractive, and successful individuals, then why can’t they seem to simply make their way to one another?

Here’s my theory..(and you all knew there had to be one). The reason people are getting married later and later and more and more engagements/relationships are being called off is because people have built up an unrealistic ideal of what it means to be in a relationship. We grow up watching television programs and movies which depict relationships amongst people of a complete different background and upbringing.

Not to mention the fact that in current day, social media makes it appear like those of us married with kids or simply in a relationship are just picture perfectly happy on and off the screen. Here’s the cold hard truth though, ain’t nobody pulling out chairs for us and showering us with bouquets unexpected flowers. Just sit there and smile as you sip your Mc Donald’s coke with Crown mixed into it on “date night.” That’s about as much wining and dining you’re going to get honey.

Our men (the Indo-Canadian ones) simply haven’t been raised in the manner to be these respectful chivalrous gentlemen which we have so pine-fully dreamt of our entire adolescent years. This ideal image we have created of what our perfect mate should be like is much too unattainable for the simple fact that – they don’t exist.

Now I like to keep things fairly unbiased and impartial so I don’t want to seem like I’m bashing all apnay (Indian) men here. I’ve heard plenty of guys complain about the fact there aren’t any “good” girls out there either. Well to you all I’ve got to say – where are ya’ll lookin? ‘Coz if it’s in the lineup to caprice (is that still a club?) then you best get your butt enrolled in a post-secondary institute of some sort and begin your hunt for a good wife there.

Book smarts tend to equal a well rounded individual – for the most part. So shape up your expectations and start looking in the right places. What you surround yourself with, and how you behave, is what you will attract.

Be the man you’d want your sister to be with, and be the woman you’d expect your daughter to be – and maybe, just maybe, you’ll come across that special someone, get married, and then bitch about the fact they’re nothing, nothing at all like Ryan Gosling or even Prince Adam from the little mermaid for that matter.

What does everyone think about this? Am I being overly pessimistic? Is it right to hold out for “the one?” Or is it time to accept that there’s only one way to get married – by lowering your standards and expectations and just settling for a secure and comfortable life.

Please do let me know in the comment section below or on my Facebook like page!

Strangers In Their Own Homes

It’s a well known fact that it is customary for adult children of certain ethnicities to continue to live with their parents, well, forever.

There’s no concept of moving out once you hit 18 or even farther into the future of setting your parents up into a nice retirement home when they’re too old to care for themselves.

It’s like a never ending pact, we raise our young, only to grow up to care for those who raised us.

It’s a nice sentiment isn’t it? To have such a high regard for our elders that we keep them close no matter what.

I recall a interview a few years back in which the mega Bollywood stars Aishwariya Rai and Abishek Bachan were on the late night show which was then hosted by Jay Leno.

He teased and poked fun at them for still living with their parents. Aishwariya snapped back by saying, “well our culture doesn’t believe in dumping our elders into homes and going about our lives.”

There’s more of a familial unit. A responsibility to put back into the world what was given to you, complete the circle of life if you will.

Now this is all fine and dandy under one extremely important circumstance. In order to all live under one roof, you all have to be mutually respectful to one another.

No one family member should have precedence over the other.

I see a whole lot of people treating their grandparents like second hand family members. They grumble and moan when they ask them for anything or to be taken anywhere. Their request is usually for a five minute trip to one of three places – the temple, doctors office, or the bank. How hard is that? It doesn’t have to be such a nuisance.

I remember being the EXACT same way with my grandmother. But then her days became numbered and I realized I shouldn’t take her presence and wisdom for granted. I realized that when she looked in the mirror she didn’t see a demanding old lady.

She saw the lady who built things with her own hands, singlehandedly fought off home invaders in her beloved home in India, worked day in and out for her family, and raised and watched four generations grow from her name.

Each “old person” has a story to tell. Each moment of crankiness, or request, or repetition of the same story has MEANING behind it. Don’t be too young and naive to appreciate that.

I think where it’s all going wrong here is that we are staying together for the wrong reason. Because we care more about what people outside our homes think rather than those inside. We keep our parents and grandparents close because well that’s just the norm. But no one sees how they’re being treated behind closed doors.

Pensions being cashed in by the youngsters, groceries not being shared, huffs and puffs when asked for help. They’re spending their last days bound to their homes because no one has time to take them anywhere. They’re forced to ride the bus, their bikes, and walk in the rain because once again no one has TIME. The only reason you’re on this earth capable of having ANY time is because of them so the least you can do is spare a few moments for them too.

It is no fault of their own that they can’t adequately care for themselves any longer. They are our roots and were our wings when we needed them to be, now it’s time to return the favour, and for all the right reasons.

Don’t make them feel like a burden. Help them remember their youth by sharing your own. Bring them into your world. Don’t shove them into a corner of ostracism and unkindness.