Tag Archives: india

The Chicken Gang (Vengeance is Sweet)

During a visit to Kerala when I was 5, my parents bought five gorgeous white chickens. They walked around like the hottest chickens on the block.

I was afraid to go outside by myself because they were hunting for me.

In their pack, they were unstoppable. I tried to act cool, but they smelled my fear. When I bravely attempted to play in the yard, they came and pecked me in the foot. I cried and ran inside, shaking my fist at them.

And then the five chickens became four chickens.

They were still a threatening pack but toned it down a notch.  When it came down to three chickens, I think they had a clue about where their feathered friends had gone.

Finally I could wander the yard. They gave me threatening looks but didn’t venture too close. When there were two chickens, they gave up the hot-to-trot act.

Dinner each day that week had never been more satisfying — the chicken curry in particular.

Vengeance was sweet. No — spicy.

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Kerala Trip 2010: Oon

Lunch time is party time for my taste buds.

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Kerala Trip 2010: The Hunt for Hamburger

At some point during every trip to Kerala, I crave Texas barbecue and hamburgers. Knowing Texas barbecue will be impossible to find, I head to the local bakery in search of a hamburger.

The Kerala hamburger resembles nothing found in the states, but I’m a fan anyway. I sink my teeth into two pieces of sweet bread hugging a spicy cutlet with raw onion, tomato and Kerala-style cole slaw.

Kerala Hamburger

Kerala Hamburger Half Eaten

Kerala Trip 2010: Breakfast

Mornings are awesome because a full meal awaits.

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Race is a Human Construct

I honestly think some of my cousins in India think I am a complete numskull.

Pluralism/diversity causes misunderstandings. An inability to understand the world, thoughts, worldview of someone from somewhere else. It causes conflict in the states. But I enjoy this diversity. I enjoy growing up with so many people and knowing their heart and their mind. When you know someone, you don’t think about their skin color or worry too much about “where they’re from.” You just appreciate them as a person, as someone like you.

Race is a human construct. Latino is not a race or even a color. Neither is the state of being black. News anchor Soledad O’Brien is culturally black, even though she is not deeply pigmented as such.

“Don’t let them tell you you’re not black,” her mother tells her. “Don’t let them tell you you’re not Hispanic or not Cuban.”

I don’t like checking my “race” on surveys. It waters down, mocks and misrepresents who I am.

I want to tell you who I am. Part of who I am. My roots. Raices.

I admire culture and the sense of community and resourceful engendered by many cultures. This is potentially my ignorance speaking, but I see most countries as very similar. Most countries outside of the United States and Europe. I see a sense of understanding of community. This exists in small towns in the states, too. I enjoy talking to people who grew up on a farm. It whispers parallels with my forebears in India with their chickens and goats and crops all around.

My India is not your India. It’s like the parable of the elephant and the four blind folks. One feels the trunk, the other feels the feet; one feels the tail, the other feels the belly.

Everything is different in Kerala, isn’t it?

 

I stood on a hill in Kozhencherry with my cousin Tijo. As we overlooked the city, I told him, “Do you realize you live in the most beautiful place in the world?”

I never wanted to be anything but what I am. Of Indian descent. Though I did want to be black for sometime. I think you end up wanting to be the people you’re around. I loved dark skin. Keralites were known for their dark skin. Mine wasn’t dark, though I wished it to be. It wasn’t until later I realized that some people are taught to look down on dark skin, which to this day I do not understand. It wasn’t taught in my household.

I remember the first time I learned about skin color.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreanna/2779781360/

A tree is falling in the forest.

If your identity is taken away, are you left with nothing?

If a people’s history is not written down, it’s as if it never happened. They are redefined to suit someone else’s whims.

I’ve always described India as a different planet. Every corner might as well be it’s own nation, with the mishmash of customs and dialects. You can’t look at someone of Indian descent and know their story.

India is snow-capped mountains, steamy nights, tropical paradise, scarcely bearable oppression, freedom of the highest kind, democracy, caste, religious oppression, religious amity.

India is diaspora.

Everyone is looking to go somewhere else. Or they have no idea a world exists outside their few kilometres.