Site Meter

Sunday, April 30, 2006

Et tu (a) Freud

Blogging is supposed to work like an emotional cathartic. At least, I have always felt like that. But I had no idea that blogging will also save me money that I would have otherwise spent on a shrink. Thanks to this blog, I have had the pleasure of my personality dissected inside out by amateur and wannabe Freuds. Don't get me wrong. I appreciate the expenditure of mental energies on me. It is always a good idea to learn about myself from others. You could say that that might be one of the reasons I write a blog and present myself for such analysis. But also remember, what you might think you see in me may partly be your own reflection. A process that psychiatrisits describe as "Projection". Anywho. Thanks for all your comments. I could not help make this observation though. Inherent in most arguments is the admission that turbans are indeed considered by women to be a negative accesory. My row is against that matter and that matter alone. Rest is coincidental.

It seems like it has been my sad duty to play the Devil's Advocate throughout. Maybe the turban is just incidental here. Maybe the truth behind my woes is elsewhere. Unfortunately, I have not been able to determine any other factor. But it is kind of a mute point now. They say the darkest hour of the night is right before dawn. I am getting the feeling that my dawn may be close.

The other day I went with C to watch this new movie "Inside Man". It is a Spike Lee movie with an abundance of usual Spike Lee style racial allusions and metaphors. What was interesting was the appearance of a young Sikh guy who works in the bank. It is amazing how the movie devotes 10 seconds for the guy to vent against the daily problems that a turbaned Sikh guy experiences. He mentions the selective frisking at the airports, the usual mistaken identity with Arabs so on and so forth. Sitting in the theatre, I felt like Waris Ahluwalia was giving life to my thoughts. As he was speaking on the screen, C kept squeezing my hand as a gesture of silent acknowledgement. Touche, Spike. Interestingly, the movie also opens with a score from Chaiya Chaiya. Overall, I feel happy that there has been a good platform for the concerns of the Sikh community to be voiced.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

First Steps

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that my baby has taken her first steps. Well, kind of. C has made her first attempts to make the best of Indian cuisine namely Chicken Tikka Masala. The bad news is that I will have to now make her Chicken Parmesan. Anywho, focussing on the good news. Can you imagine my joy when she brought a bowl full of juicy tender pieces of CTM that she had cooked herself ? My joy was kind of similar to the joy of a parent at the sight of his baby uttering the first word or walking the first step. Ok, not really like that of a parent but you get the idea. And even though C did not think she did a good job, I think it was all worth it. I mean there is always room for improvement but I really really respect the sentiment. I hope I can reciprocate although I think being a guy and a MCP, I should be given more chances to cheat (like getting half cooked CP and heating it at home etc). We will see about that. Hopefully, C will continue to hone her cuilinary skills and I will continue to exercise my palate.

Other things. I am rather disappointed by some of the comments made to last post. First of all, I must make it clear that I value my privacy a lot. I had never wanted to reveal what I do for a living as it is immaterial. But that particular experience was so emotionally overwhelming and so germane to the theme of this blog, I felt I had to share it. People can put on any style of malice-goggles and twist things around to make whatever point that they want to make. It does not matter.

Even more disturbing is the confession of a young Sikh guy who feels disenchanted with the turban to the point of thinking of getting rid of it. The blog was started to celebrate the Sikhi swaroop and to let people know how some of the things they say or do can hurt others. I know I can sometime sound pathetic but trust me I am not. I might be self-effacing but I do not indulge in self-pity. "Bahut Janam bichre re Madho, eh janam tumhare lekhe" (I have wasted many a lives, my Father, this one I surrender at your feet) is my guiding principle. While it hurts me how the thinking of Sikh youth is changing, I think turbaned Sikhs are strong enough to endure the change. In an earlier post, I had alluded to Robert Frost's poem A Road less taken. The path is ardous and there are bristles and thorns on the way but serving one's Father is worth it. And usually these efforts don't go waste. Believe it or not, there is still Natural justice out there.

And trust me, it is probably not that hard to find "a" wife with or without a turban. Had it been upto my parents, I would have been married at age 2 years. But I am a hopless romantic and just wanted to fall in love with somebody. Unfortunately, in my profession. there is not enough time to roam around and find someone. And there are not enough young single Sikh women in the medical field. Anyways, my story is mine alone. Regardless, my position on the loss of respect of the turban is unchanged. It will be really sad if one more brother gives in to the pressure rather than taking it as a man. Turban stands for resilience against tyranny whether it comes from Mughals or from within us.

Monday, April 24, 2006

A Glass half full

Here is a rare opportunity for you guys to witness the rare utterance of positive words from a guy who is usually fixated at the empty half of the glass. I am a physican. I work with people all day long and hence I deal with their preconceptions, their judgements and their notions about somebody who looks so different than them. The other day, one of my patients told me this. She told me that the first time she ever saw me in the hospital, she told her mom that she hoped that I would not be her doctor. She did not tell me why she thought so but I and most of you can guess why. However, as fate would have it, I was assigned to take care of her. Now, after I have been taking care of her for the past six months, she told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to her. She told me other nice things about me and basically made my day.

The objective of this side-story is not for me to blow my trumpet or to tell you how special I am. That is already a well known fact. Just kidding. The point I am trying to make is when people judge other people merely on the basis of their looks or other superficial attributes, there is scope for much errror. I don't blame her for prejudging me. I mean look at me. Here I am, a guy with a beard and a turban in a post 9/11 world. I don't look anything like she had ever seen in her life and she was put in a situation where she was asked to put her life in the hands of a guy that looked wierd( to her). So, even though I am partly hurt (as I don't know how many other of my patients have thought like that about me), yet I can't complain because in the end she recognized the fact that I cared about her. Compare this to the other scenario. One of my non-Indian friends asked me almost in disbelief that how it was possible for me to find a non-Sikh non Indian girl to be by my side when Sikh girls (well, a whole lot of them) had even refused to me. It was hard for me to explain to him because even I don't understand it. True, my efforts had mostly utilized online matrimonial services but whatever. It is amply clear that Sikh women have similar or even worse preconceptions and prejudgements about turbaned guys as non Sikhs.

I am proud of my religion. Every weekend, I look forward to going to the Gurudwara because sitting there listening to the kirtan gives me the same pleasure i had when I lay in my mother's lap as a kid. Every time I bow before my Guru, I feel the loving hand of my Father tap me on my back. I meet other Sikh people and they all seem nice and friendly. I feel accepted and at home. But the moment I step out, everything changes. There is this dichotomy that I don't understand. Sikh women and Sikh guys who not only proudly choose to give up on their identities but ridicule those who don't. "Only clean-shaven JSM respond" is the predominant requirement. Everything else is secondary. The above story however is ample proof that if only people would take the time out to know somebody before dismissing them, they would know that most of their pre-conceived notions were so wrong. If only Sikh women would put in that effort, would they find out that guys they were dismissing as trash might actually be a piece of uncut diamond. Topaz can mimick trash sometimes.

Anyways, I have harped on this tune forever. I have cried myself hoarse but I don't know if it really matters. It is an eternal fight. People will always prejudge people like me and at every step of life, we have to fight against those opinions. The only thing that bugs me is: " Why do we have to do that with the people that are our own and who should have understood us better?"

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Apples and Oranges

Years ago when I was a young boy, I had the dubious distinction of accompanying my mom to the sabzi mandi (Indian fruit and vegetable market). I remember how she would do this elaborate routine of choosing the best of the apples and oranges. She would pick the best looking orange up, turn it all around inspecting its contours in 3D. She would smell it and sometimes she would put it back with a frown on her face while at other times she would happily put it in her basket. The whole process intrigued me. Back home, nine times out of ten, she would be right. The apples and oranges she picked up would be really juicy and ripe. But then there would be that one bad apple that escaped her experienced eyes and would end up in the trash bin.

Finding a wife, by the arranged route, is kind of similar to the process of buying fruits and vegetables. Most of the times, you have 15-20 minutes to decide if the person you want to spend the rest of your life with is a bad apple or good. Unlike fruits, you cannot turn her all around or smell her. That would be weird. But if you are smart, you may ask her her a few soul-searching questions and hope that she would answer them honestly. Even so, there is so much you can do in 20 minutes. But like fruits and vegetables, nine times out of ten, you would be right. The person that you end up marrying would not be a nagging obsessive pyscho but really a cute little princess who would stroll around in the garden of your heart. However, there would be that one time when the whole marriage would be one big rotten apple with worms crawling out and gross stuff like that. So, generally the odds are in your favor. The question is: are you happy with those odds because if you are wrong, it is not the damn apple who is going to the trash bin, it is you and your life. To borrow a term from economics, I am a risk-averse individual. Especially when the stakes are as high as my life. Hence, I thought of trying to see if I could meet someone on my own and get to know her before taking the leap of blind faith.

On the other hand, the other route is not that rosy either. Because the first few months, people just can't help but pretend to be somebody that they are not. They are at their best behavior, they put on their best clothes and lazy suckers like me clean up their apartment or walk other people's dogs with a broad grin on their face. You know how it is. It is the natural way of things. C tells me that she would never marry anybody till she has been with him for a year and half. While that is a tall order, but I can see the logic behind it. It is only with time, that the initial euphoria dies and the true you comes in the forefront. And then when you really really know the other person, you can decide whether he or she is the one who you want to share your life, in sickness and health, in poverty and opulence and other sweet stuff like that. To sum up, in this method, you could literally touch, smell, even Xray the goddamn oranges and apples before you decide which ones you wanna take home to mama. You can still go wrong but then you don't have your parents you can put the blame on because the decision was yours and yours alone.

Anyways, my ramblings on love and ladies go on. The other day somebody wrote that we should strive to be better humans rather than focusing on disparaging others. I agree with that completely. Gandhi wrote: "You must be the change you want to see in this world." It is true that when you are an accomplished individual, you will invariably get the admiration and affection (of ladies) that you seek. The ladies will flock to a bigger better you. I have heard that story for about three years now. And it is my sad duty to report that it is not always true. More so, when your chief modality of finding a wife are online services like you know the names. Women make it amply clear there that they don't want turbaned guys and hence your proposal will be rejected no matter who you are or what you stand for. Call it bad luck or being at the wrong place at the wrong time or any other excuse, but that is the truth. I am all for self-improvement but unfortunately, life is not as rigidly governed by the laws of physics as the pendulum in the Science lab.

Last but not least, C categorically denies that she thinks I am cute when she is in a happy mood. She says that she thinks I am cute even when she is in a bad mood. Only that she does not say it. Also, she did not go to that party because she hates Asian hangouts but because she had other stuff to do. Give the poor girl a break. She is going through enough being with me. Be easy on my sweetie.

Disclaimer: There has been this idea floating around in the comments of an organization to help "crying Harrys" find a wife. Let me make it clear. The idea is that of the anonymous person and his alone. I am neither for nor against such an endeavor. I have known a lot of Sikh organizations way too well to know that most of them end up being either the personal kingdoms of a chosen few or get entangled in a quagmire of personal avarice. Anyways, this blog is my story and I have taken the liberty to extrapolate from my experiences to deduce that other Sikh guys have probably experienced similar things. I have said before that each of us is unique in our own way. You might have had a better luck with Sikh women that I have but do remember that if you are in a room with a giant Gorilla, there is little chance that you would miss it. That Gorilla, ladies and gents, is the dynamic change in our religion. Good or bad, who knows. But it is happening and it is difficult to ignore it.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Born to Cry

I was born crying. It is in my genes. What can I do?. The only time a woman called me cute was the nurse( who helped pull the curtains and introduced me to the world) who told my mom that I was a cute boy. Even that is hearsay. I know it only because my mom told me so. Until now. C, when she is in a good mood, tells me that I am cute. I hope she means it. Anyways, this is all in response to my friend's comment that maybe I should shut my trap now that I am with somebody. I wish it were that simple. I have had plenty of reasons not to stop crying. Now, I have found a special lady but until I find a wife (or she becomes one), the blog shall live.

One of the people in the comments section proclaims that I am a "stupid idiot" because I write about the ladies and love. Well, that is only partly accurate. I write about ladies who don't give a fair chance to guys like me. Whatever. I have been down this route so many times that I am flagged and tired of talking about it. I love to write. I have written short stories all my life and now I write a blog!. What can I do? And I write about what I see. Sikh kids smoking cigarettes even as the tattoo of a khanda glistens on their backs, Sikh ladies who are too haughty and too cool to look at a turbaned guy as they sip on their margaritas and Sikh lads who don the turban when they accompany their parents to the Gurudwara yet are only too quick to take it off and show off their neat crew-cut in da club. What are you talking about? That is hot stuff to write about. It is the story of our lifetimes which is unfolding before our own eyes. Makes you wonder about a lot of things.

The other thing that caught my attention was a young missy talking about how she feels discriminated by turbaned guys because she cuts her hair. I must admit that this is the first of its kind. I am sorry if it is really true. I am sorry for the brazen uncivilized attitude of my brethren. But I am sure one of them will come forward and ask you out. Lately, I have noticed people do exactly that on my blog. I will be happy if some other brothers are able to find wives here. And thanks for your wishes. I do hope that it works out for me.

Sunday, April 16, 2006

The Statistics of Love

Lately, there has been a fascinating discussion in the comments section on the application of statistical methods to the age old question of finding a wife for Hairy Harries of this world. While some of the mathematical theories that have propounded appear simplistic, the message is clear and grim. Some people have proposed that other attributes like intellect and handsomeness might be able to compensate for the turban and put people like me at par with their non-hairy peers. Others have drawn comparisons with other religions like Islam to justify the fascination of Sikh women with the non-hairy subspecies of Sikhs.

I do agree with some of the statements while differing with others. First of all, the non-turbaned Sikhs are not a sect of Sikhism like Shias and Sunnis are of Islam. They believe in the same fundamental beliefs of Sikhism but for their own special reasons have chosen to ignore a few rules. Most Sikhs would look upon them as renegade Sikhs if nothing else. I do agree with "Givelove"( a very interesting moniker) that the percentage of Sikh women who dig turban is astonishingly small.

All these statistical mambo-jambo was at work in a desi party this weekend in downtown Houston. It was a bhangra party and needless to say, a lot of people who boast of being Punjabis showed up in full force. Of course, they were sans the turban and other outward signs of their religion. Yours truly, on the other hand, was the solo turbaned person in the crowd. This is a not a matter of pride or embarrassment but just a statement. I am not afraid of standing out even though I am not outstanding (Well, C says I am). Anyways, it was a dark smoky atmosphere with the smoke emanating from all the cigarettes that were smoldering at the luscious lips of the bevy of Sikh ladies. Don't get me wrong. A lot of young Sikh lads were partaking in sucking the joystick as well. There was loud music and there were people gyrating to the tunes of bhangra and hip-hop.

Unfortunately, C did not accompany me to the party because of other stuff. I was in the company of my male friends who went in the hope of meeting somebody. The edifice of their hopes has crumbled several times in the past and this time was no different. A friend of mine wears a stubble of a beard and wears a baseball hat. The poor guy tried but failed. As did other of my friends. Most of them carried the burden of atleast one of the lethal trinity: fobs, bearded or partly bearded Sikhs and nice guys. The party was a window into changing times and the future Sikh generations. There was perhaps sampling bias but I would still confer some degree of validity to it.

To cut the long story short, I think turbaned Sikh men are an endangered species. Peer pressure and other things are just not in favor of the perpetuation of this species. I don't mean to sound nihilistic but I think I can read the writing on the wall. This, only reminds me of the Dodo bird. An indigenous species of Mauritius, the Dodo bird was wiped to extinction by the swift blow of changing times because the stupid bird just would not run away at seeing the hunter approach.

I might be a member of an endangered species but I don't want to be another Dodo.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Write No Evil

In this era of blogging, I think it is about time that the three monkeys signifying "Hear no evil, See no evil, Say no evil" get a new friend. A new monkey depicting "Write No evil". Over the past few months of writing this blog, I have had a few "slings and arrows" of nasty comments hurled at me. However, none of those have offended me as the ones posted recently. I almost can't believe them. Most of them are not even directed at me and yet I feel offended.

I am a proud Sikh. I love my religion but that does not mean that people can automatically assume that I hate other religions. I respect other religions and cultures, be it Hinduism, Christianity or any other. I am only too aware of the excesses against Sikhs but hate and diffuse malice are no answers. I and this blog are against fundamentalism, bigotry and intolerance of any kind, in any shape and form. So, if my tolerant views make you throw up or indulge in any other offensive biological action, please find another place in the open pastures.

And C, sweetie, I am missing you.

I miss you with every breath I take,
Every moment that I am awake,
With every cake that I bake,
I miss you, for God's sake.

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Hope springs eternal

To all my hairy brothers, read this and read this good. For every modern Sikh woman who rejects you for who you are and who you have chosen to believe, there is someone out there who will blow a puff of gentle breeze, parting midway your long flowing beard and reveal your tender loving heart. She will place a gentle wet kiss on your broken heart and as you writhe in pleasure, she will make you fall in love with her. I know she may be hard to find but hope, my brethren from turbanland, springs eternal in the human breast and trust me, that is for a reason.

This is in response to a comment made by a Sikh brother to one of my posts. I hear thy howl, brother. Keep faith. If Sikh women don't want you, there is no reason for you to want them either. Keep your faith and your dignity.

Years ago, I had read that Khuswant Singh had predicted that Sikhism would be extinct by the end of last century. That scared me at the time. Of course, he has been proven wrong many times over. But now sometimes, I tend to worry more. I know people would argue that it is a mistake to equate the whole philosophy of a religion with some dermatological appendage. Maybe so. But take a look at the 17 th comment to my post Kissed by a Rose and you would understand what I mean. Increasingly, more and more of us are showing our fingers to the outward symbols. But what is troubling is more and more of us don't care about the philosophy either: "I know Guru Gobind Singh's children died for their faith) who were cut into pieces because they wouldn't abandon the "path" but hey, that's what they wanted to do; it was their choice. It is not my choice so stop imposing it on me."

I understand religion is an intensely personal issue. It is a matter of belief and faith which should spring from within you and not be thrust down your throat. Sure. But are we doing a good job of teaching our kids about what our religion actually stands for? Do they think of us as a relic of an ancient past, clinging to a history that they don't care about or are they aware of the vivacious lively aspects of Sikh philosophy as well?

Whatever. It troubles my heart. Not that I care about how one random individual thinks. I don't consider it blasphemy either. But sitting on the sidelines, I take a sigh and utter a silent prayer that God give us wisdom.

On the personal front, things are going well. C has discovered that I don't snore although she hasn't fallen in love with me yet (although I have risen to the level of "sweetheart"). She tells me it is too soon. I agree. I tell her I may be hairy but I am still cute. She agrees to that. So, we are kind of even steven for the moment. Oh, BTW. She cooked something the other day and to my surprise, it was edible. Just kidding. It was actually sumptuous. Take it easy, babe.

Also, thanks TM for your nice comment. I have been telling people that for years but they wouldn't believe me.