Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Why my mother may have been right and Bagels and what not??

Culture is a very strange thing. For instance coming from Sri Lanka I had my first run in with a conservative Muslim gal in the Brisbane convention center in Australia. This very funny sort of incident did happen some weeks back. The incident was more embarrassing than anything else really. I was attending a seminar called, ‘Islam and the West’.

When I first took my seat at the event I quickly realized that I had two Jews on my side. Might I say the light skin and the big nose is a dead give away. Come to think of it, the incident itself is quite funny. One very confused Buddhist/Catholic who looks like the stereotypical Muslim surrounded by two Jews, who happen to look very Jewish. We got along well like a house on fire! In all the talk in the seminar room about racism that is targeted at the Muslims by the west; the Bush regime and what’s happening to the to the poor Palestinians I struck a great conversation on where to buy the best bagels in town. I also later learnt that the best bagels in America come not from NY the Jewish capital of the world by Seattle? Seattle? Yes, and its owned by a much of Mexicans.

The rather embarrassing moment came during lunchtime. I was standing with ‘Ari’ one of the Jewish chaps I ve met and chatting away when a girl approached us to start off a conversation, she was a Muslim, I could tell because well she was brown (I know there are some token white Muslims out there to confuse the rest of us; perhaps a bit more) and she was dressed in the hijab (the head dress), so I did what was meant to be done, struck my hand to give it a good shake and welcome her to the group. So, while my right hand was standing out like a fishing rod on a very bad day waiting for the first bite in the middle of the crowd I did not get that all important ‘shake back’. She happened to be the more conservative type, I felt quite naked! So, here I was after 26 years of living here and there I have my first encounter with a full-blooded Muslim and the Brisbane convention center. The greatest lessons are learnt by experience! When she left, Ari told me some ‘Jews’ are like that too; I could tell he felt quite bad for me and said, ‘ the best thing to do my friend, is for them to make the first move’ and we both broke in to laughter!

So, just yesterday when I was having my constitutional cappuccino made by Gabby; who happens to be a self professed JAP (Jewish Australian Princess). She told me soon she would be celebrating her 18th wedding anniversary with her husband. I was quite surprised to hear of this since she looks very young, anyways, I digress. She told me the key to a happy marriage is thing’s we share in common. Um, that sounds familiar. Well she went on to say how on her husband’s side he had four brothers the ones who married the ‘white trash’ as she would put it was not so happy. She said, “ they never understand our customs, you know Path, how we do things, so, marry your own kind”. Now, if my mother said this, I would have come down hard on it but perhaps I am thinking she may have been right.

Of Passports and Human Rights...

The most vocal advocates of human rights is of course the West; and rightly so I would imagine since some one has to carry the flag for some the poor peoples who get either marginalized by their own government as in the case in Sri Lanka or the poor chaps who gets destroyed by a foreign government as in the case of Israel in Palestine or the Americans in Iraq.

The funny thing is the ones who scream and shout the most in regards to equal rights the ones who legally and utterly have destroyed it. What do I mean you wonder? Its just like the passport you carry, for instance since I carry a Sri Lankan passport and need to travel to any god forsaken corner of this world I need a visa. A visa, which usually means long lines in the hot sun, or rain whatever Mother Nature, may throw at you. It would also mean giving up any rights to my own privacy. This of course means that I would have to give up all my bio data to some bugger I don’t quite know if I am single or not? Which I am utterly for the past few years and even my sex, and how much I am worth. There are of course discrimination happening at two very different levels here, I am being discriminated great number of westerners who can travel freely though out the world and of course my own countrymen. The poor fellow who doest have enough rupees in his bank account so it is assumed that he would surely stay once he gets there.

So, when these western governments scream and shout in regards to the human rights violations that goes on in the third world, I would stay it would be a nice place to start at home and take down some of the institutions that have been so nicely created to keep the third world out. Plus, if you really care so much about them make it easy for them to relocate, I mean on humanitarian grounds of course.

The saddest aspect of visas is the fact that it’s purely done on economic terms since we as a society have tried hard to get over the color of our skin discrimination at least on paper. The reasoning is we are rich you are poor and we don’t want you to come here in the search of wealth. So, what it implies is the fact if we are to become rich like them we would get a fair ride like the rest of the privileged world. Here in lies a big problem for the first world; it is only now the first world is realizing the lives that are sustained though the plundering of the world by a few if done by every one we would have high gas prices and global warming in the multiples of ten. So, I guess I am waiting for some world leader from the West to get up and say “ah, may be you guys should not develop us fast as we have, or we would all be royally be fucked.” I say to the ones who shout about human rights and other such novel causes as great as it is, please try to put your own house in order since that’s probably causing the most havoc anyways.