As I mentioned earlier, I am visiting my parents in Kuwait this summer. But honestly, it’s quite easy to forget that sometimes over here. Now, we reside in a part of Kuwait where mostly Indians and Pakistanis live. When we step out of the house, people on the streets, parks and malls looks exactly like the people back in India and it does not really feel like we are in a “foreign” country. The local shopkeepers and street-end grocers speak Tamil and Malayalam(south Indian languages) and you can be sure that anyone in the area will respond to your Hindi. Before we go ahead, I must emphasize to those who don’t know already, that Arabs (West-Asian origin)look quite different from Indians (South-Asian origin) in terms of facial features and physical built. Now let’s get to the point.
Why does an Indian or South Asian ghetto even exist here in the first place??! Why do people like to flock with others of a common or even a similar origin irrespective of whether they like the fellow clansmen or not? This scenario is not just limited to Kuwait, every city has such spaces that can be said to be an area specifically populated by people of a specific races, countries, religions, regions, languages, ages. All my parents’ friends here are Indians and as far as I can perceive , belonging to certain privileged castes(as such a problem exists in India), class and I suppose also largely vegetarian like my family. I remember meeting a particular Aunty who always always criticizes Kuwaitis whenever she speaks. She talks about how “they” waste food in restaurants, splurge money, ill treat maids, buy too much stuff at the mall etc. But how can a certain people be just generically criticized of a behaviour that I am sure exists even outside of them and I am definitely sure exists also in the people this Aunty will call her own brethren. She probably hasn’t really spoken to a Kuwaiti beyond an “excuse me” and not interacted with them at all. Don’t such preconceived notions definitely stop her and us all from actually ever really getting to know anybody who is born different from us.
Its really strange that what people consider “community” changes in different places and often depends on how far they are from a place they consider their “home” or the place they belong to. For instance, back in University, the Tamilians, Bengalis, Assamese, etc made what they call cultural associations so that others of similar origin and language can gather and mingle, celebrate festivals, eat, date , etc. Delhi also has a Bengali ghetto called Chitaranjan Park and Okhla has actual territories that are divided as Hindu and Muslim where people belonging to the other religion don’t even enter. 😐 Yes, so grave is the situation in the capital of India.
But boss, you should see an India v/s Pakistan cricket match. The most recent of these stand=offs was the ICC World Cup 2011 Final match and it was just crazy how the Indians rooted for the Indian team and rejoiced when Pakistan lost. I suppose the situation is the same on the other side of the border as well. The tension between the countries remains and is quite bitter and aggressive especially when there are unfortunate acts of violence in either country. As for me, I am of a delicate heart when it comes to this, and wanted Pakistan to win that cricket match simply because they needed the victory.
I emphasized the tension between India and Pakistan because I have seen that Indians and Pakistanis bond with each other when they are in Kuwait. The other day we went to an amusement park here and met another family who looked “very Indian” and on speaking we got to know they are Pakistanis and we hung out for sometime and there was not an ounce of bitterness. I suppose that for a lot of people , meeting someone from anywhere near where they are can kindle a sense of brotherhood. I wonder why a brown skin among a sea of white faces should make someone feel at home. (Ofcourse, the same could be different or the exact opposite perhaps for say, Indian who is born and/or brought up in America.)
Guys, so please, just ‘unghetto’. It could make a world of difference. It is actually going to make for a safe interdependent neighbourhood because that is how we could begin to deal with trust issues that have enslaved our minds and bound us from new experiences.
May be I have no right to say all this because I haven’t lived in another country for very long periods, but so far, I have noticed that for me “people are just people”. hah, that’s a line from Regina Spektor’s song, Ghost of Corporate Future. She also says “the world is everlasting, its coming and its going.” So I want to make the most of this world while I come and go and know that I could, without any preconceived paradigms, experience all the people and things that make the world as wonderful as it is. I hope that when it comes to it, I don’t run to some Indian ghetto in whichever part of the world I live in and mix it up bitches!