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Kabira

Kaisee teri khudgarzee
Na dhoop chune na chhaanv
Kaisee teri khudgarzee
Kisi thaur tike na paanv

How’s this selfishness of yours,
that you don’t take the sun, nor take the shade..
How’s this selfishness of yours,
that your feet don’t stay anywhere..

Ban liyaa apnaa paighambar
Tar liyaa tu saat samandar
Phir bhee sookhaa mann ke andar
Kyoon reh gaya

You’ve tried being your own god,
and crossed all seven seas,
Still, there is a draught within your heart,
Why is it so..

Re Kabeera maan jaa
Re Fakeera maan jaa
Aa jaa tujh ko pukaaray teri parchhaaiyaan
Re Kabira maan jaa
Re Fakeera maan jaa
Kaisa tu hai nirmohee kaisaa harjaaiyaa

O Kabira, listen to me..
O saint, believe me..
Come, your shadows call you [back]..
O Kabira, listen to me..
O saintly one, believe me..
What a loveless and ruthless person you are..

[Nirmohee is someone who doesn’t have any love nor hatred, for anyone or anything. Someone who is neutral to the world and its happenings.]

Tooti chaarpaai wo hi
Thandi purvaai rastaa dekhe
Doodhon ki malaayi wohi
Mitti ki suraahee rastaa dekhe..

That broken cot,
that cool breeze from the east, awaits you..
That milk cream
and the earthen pot of cold water await you..

[Suraahee is an earthen pot with a long neck and keeps water cool.]

Kaisi teri khudgarzi
Lab namak rame naa misree
Kaisi teri khudgarzi
Tujhe preet purani bisri..
Mast Maula, mast Kalandar
Tu hawa kaa ek bavandar
Bujh ke yoon andar hi andar
Kyun reh gaya..

How’s this selfishness of yours,
Neither salt nor sugar fit on your tongue..
How’s this selfishness of yours,
that you have forgot old love..
O free man, free spirit,
you’re a storm of wind..
then why have you ended
within yourself only..

Re Kabira maan jaa
Re Faqeera maan jaa
Aa jaa tujh ko pukaaray teri parchhaaiyaan
Re Kabeera maan jaa
Re Fakeera maan jaa
Kaisa tu hai nirmohi kaisa harjaiyaa…

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When Gogol’s(Kal Penn) father Ashok(Irrfan Khan) dies in The Namesake, the boy not so unceremoniously lets a tapping-on-some-music barber shave off his head. Shaving off one’s head is customary to a son whose father passes by. But I won’t talk about that. It’s an image I have seen one to many times. Someone carrying off something so ignorant about what it really means to you, and it is not their fault.

Being an Indian who has seen some crucial moments of her life unfold abroad, as a kid, a teenager and someone who went away for college. Nothing got to me more. Than being this foreigner, in this foreign land, where your rituals are nothing but either a source of delightful inquiry or an inconvenience to everyone else. And I am sure it is true of other subcultures living in countries with diverse populations. Because in those moments, I cannot be someone who is an informative brochure.

While I was a college student, away, mostly in a dorm on a diwali evening, unceremoniously going about a day, that is the bigest day on the hindu calendar, I felt a ting, a pinch. I would organize dinners over at the Indian restaurant, but it still never felt festive enough. Yes, I could wear my heals under my ethnic wear, pertaining to the weather, but sometimes I was forced to wear snow boots, because well it was snowing. The clothing I wore, in no way was graceful enough for me. Neither did they seem graceful to me. I truly felt like an impostor wearing those clothes. But I wore them, because that was the only thing I could do on a diwali evening away from home. I couldn’t get my hands or my feet heenaed neither could I draw a rangoli on a floor. 

The exact things I used to be not that excited about, when I was back home. A rangoli, yes but a heena? hah! I was always too cool for that. I still am, go figure. But as a kid, when I was back home, these mindless rituals seemed rudimentary, and unnecessary. Now, they seem like a connection to my roots. 

When a hindu man dies, as tradition pertains, his son gets his head shaved, his wife removes the vermillion from the parting of her head (usually a signifier that a hindu woman is married, and her husband is living), removes or breaks her bangles, gains white clothing, basically removing all colors from her face and body, to signify her loss. We mourn our dead in white. The only difference is, when in a foreign land we are so caught off-guard with it, that we are usually left with an option of getting our heads shaved by a man who has not the first idea about why we are doing this, and hell he might even compliment us afterwards. It’s not his fault ofcourse. It’s just in those moments when you feel truly away.

I come from a family of the new India, but these are still the sentiments we share with our ancestors, perhaps. Its is thru these rituals that we materialize and register our loss. While I lived in America, happily so I never went to a funeral, but I did attend a handful weddings, and a few of them were Indian. When I peeked into an American wedding, I was always an outsider peeking in, it was always amazing, it didn’t matter to me if they were doing enough or if they were doing less. As whatever was, was new and enticing. Similar to the reason, why I have always preferred interracial relationships over intra-racial. Yet, when I attended Indian weddings, I terribly missed home. To the point that I stopped rsvping to those. And even when I attended them, they felt so incomplete. 

It felt as if these people do not dully understand the meaning and ethos of it all. They will never get why our weddings have so many ceremonies, and how perhaps that is the reason our marriages, the majority being the arranged ones, last. It is not just celebration, and an elaborate show of wealth, it is also ritualizing yourself into the next chapter of your life. 

It is like this, it is like joining a fraternity/sorority, the rushing, getting to know the brothers/sisters, getting to know the letters, the hazing, and other rituals specific to different organizations. It becomes a life long bond hence. 

Similarly Indian weddings, which are annoyingly so long, yes. Are also ritualizing yourself into the next chapter of your life. A step spread over so many days. Earlier thought of as an inconvenience, now, I commend it. What is to life, but birth, death and marriage? If these are the things we let pass so unceremoniously or without any deeper meaning to the people involved, what is there to anything, if at all. 

You see I am The Vow kind of girl, my pinterest does not have a single wedding dress, a wedding cake or decor. I never grew up thinking about my wedding, as most girls did. Frankly, I thought I was too cool for that. I am or I was The Vow kind of girl, who atleast till this point thought, weddings are a huge waste of time and money, that I would rather elope, or idk drive thru vegas and get married. That maybe one sunny afternoon, I would call and say to my future fiance, “hey it looks beautiful outside, want to go to the City Hall on Broad and Chambers, and get married?” No frills, no show, and focus on the marriage and not so much on the wedding. 

I mean, I thought who is a wedding for? for the guests? for your parents, if you are Indian. 

Yet, now my predicament on the whole thing, might have changed. In the next seven days my childhood friend gets married, my first friend. And I can go there, with my ever poker face, and not feel a thing, but I know why I avoid these weddings. To avoid life. And now I think, I am done with that. There is a sweetness to these rituals that only leaving home could have taught me. That only someone else’s ignorance could have taught me, how much I hold some things so dearly. 

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There are more ways to feel the burn of racism than just the direct one, when one person from one race or faith decides to date another, they also face a type of racism.

In my dating history, not deliberately, yet I have dated across religions and races. I think the only time a woman or a man gets deliberate is when they choose to date their own race, or just one race. And even then, its is personal preference and it should be left to them. While I date the person I want to, I seem to piss off others. I do not understand this recurring phenomena, yet I face this every time. Its been some 50 years since the civil rights moment and some 70 since India has been declared a secular state. Yet, whenever I find myself dating a black, a muslim or a white guy, I find some people ridiculing me. I find people even telling me that I will be punished by own kind, for dating these “others”. It is hateful, and it should stop. What two people decide to date should totally be upto them and should be their business. But here are common insults I get. 

When I date a black/african guy:

1. She likes it big

2. She has no standards

3. You can never marry “that”

4. Find someone of quality

5. (somebody pushed me, yes, actually pushed me)

6. Mama likes chocolate

7. How is your nigga?

8. If you ever marry him, don’t be surprised if he has another baby mama in another state

9. They always cheat

10. Find someone of quality, find someone of your own
11. I had respect for her, then I saw her with him

12. He’s just her fetish
13. Your kids will have no faith, what will you teach them? They will be confused about their identities
14. Why him?

When I date a muslim guy:

1. She likes it circumcised

2. Isko kya chahiya, katta lund aur muh mai allah (what does this one want, she wants a circumcised dick and someone who says Allah)

3. What are you going to be, wife number 2? 

4. You know some of them only go for non-muslim women just so they can convert them 

5. Find someone from your own faith

6. I can date anyone, but I can never date a muslim, why are you bent on ruining your life, your parents will cut you off 

7. Your kids will have no faith, what will you teach them? They will be confused about their identities

8.Why him?
When I date a white guy: 

1. She is a sellout 

2. He is into colored women 

3. Why can’t you find someone from your own race

4. White men eventually cheat

5. Your marriage with a white guy will never last

6. Atleast this is better than dating a black guy, a muslim guy or a mixed breed 

7. You are not white you know

8. Your kids will be so pretty 

9. She thinks she is white

10. She is not happy about who she is and where she comes from 

11. She is trying to marry up the foodchain 
12. She’s one of “those”

13. You are just his fetish

 
14. Your kids will have no faith, what will you teach them? They will be confused about their identities

15. Why him?

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Hi, I date inter-racially.

And when I do, I reach your probing eyes, sometimes you smile because you are happy that people like me exist, sometimes you are trying to keep a straight face, and I can see that. I get dirty looks too. And if you are someone from my race, you give me third and fourth looks, if you are someone from his race you still seem to accommodate more-thankyou! If you are an ignorant someone from his race, you like to call me “that little white girl” even on my fat days, yet I am Indian and I stand 5’6″ tall. It pinches, because you think I am nothing more than a light skinned girl-and that maybe he is dating me for my color.

If you are a guy from his race you look at me like I am fair game, and this hurts me even more, if you are a guy from any other race you are hell bent on to prove it to me that you are *big* down there too, and that is disgusting.

You have presumptions about me, because I am holding his hand. When you are a guy from my race, you think I am just playing around and that I am still fair game because I will never be serious about this dude, btw who told you that?

If you are an older person from my race you blatantly shake your head at me, as if I am committing a crime. I sincerely don’t need your judgments.

And you, yes you, the one I date, or I am dating, you doubt even my sincerest feelings for you sometimes, and that bloody hurts, your friends seem not to tell you otherwise, you call yourself “a huge waste of time” for me-and that hurts more than a thorn. Or when you think that I think that you are not good enough for me, when I am standing there doubting just whether I am even accepted in your damn heart, and maybe that gives me my weird expression. You think you are my fetish, that you are my ‘sexual experiment’, and even if its just a joke, that feels like an arrow thru my chest. I am aware of your color, I am aware of my skin too. We are only a few shades apart..

I have nothing against the guys of my race, nor do I have a thing for yours. Okay maybe I do, maybe I do like to date inter racially because I don’t like to bind myself to one kind. Yet, I just happen to be with you.

I just happen to be with him.

I just happen to be with him, because he makes me feel safe, because we laugh at the same things, because I can have a conversation with him without ever getting bored, I am with him because there is no dull moment between us, and even when we are laying un-groomed around his apartment, I still find him cute. Even when he hasn’t shaved in days or he packs in a few pounds, I still like him as much. I know what his every expression means, and he can read my mind. I like him because I can tell him anything, because I trust him. I think I like him because he is committed to his family and his work. And even though I am not religious myself, he is, and thats something I look for in a person I am with. I like him because he is a feminist. I like him because even on my bloated days, I go see him, and he looks at me like I am some goddess. Even when I am breaking out he doesn’t seem to care, if its broken he fixes it.

If it lacks luster. He polishes it.

And you know what, I leave it be like that, just so he can do it.

So next time you make a snippy comment, remember this, just because you are with your own race does not mean you will definitely have a successful relationship, the chances of you falling apart or making it as much as ours. And when you point one finger at me, remember three are pointing towards you.

And why are you still stuck in some medieval school of thought, if you don’t want to date inter-racially, just don’t! But don’t look at me in scorn 

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ImageI recently, and by recently I mean this afternoon, watched this movie,(Foreign Student, Eva Sereny, 1994), the protagonist Philip is a foreign student from France, who comes to America on a fellowship and falls in love with April, an African woman. As the movie is set in 1955, he goes thru somewhat of a forbidden interracial love, which is funny because it is still forbidden in this day and age. Being that it is 1955 the black and the whites community down south are very segregated, he is warned not to get himself entangled with a colored girl. But in the end he realizes his love for April is just something he can look back at, and it is doomed. It is, what it is.   

I am an international student, in a state school I am somewhat of a rare breed, everywhere I go they want to know how back home is like, how do I feel here, would I stay here or go back? By my third year they even forgot that I am not from here, that I am a foreigner. My friends back home think I am brave to take on this. Yes, it was one hell of an adventure. But lucky are those who have all their friends and their family in one place. 

As an international student, I feel most at home on airports, it gives me a calm, I am not here and I am not there, I am in transition, I look at everything differently, you could call me lost in translation. I have had amazing friends to talk about, great experiences, I am allowed everything, the language, the culture the awe, the flings, the hookups. But Love? Nope

As an international student, you can’t fall in love and nobody will fall in love with you. And you will look around in envy when you see lesser mortals succeeding in love but not you. When and if you fall in love with someone who is not from your race, you will be told “why can’t you find someone in your own race” friends won’t support, family will rejoice and say “god sent some sense to your head” when you breakup, hell you would doubt it a million times too.

When you are a foreign student, you have everything but love. You long to see all your loved ones at once place, but you know that can never happen, you know once you leave your friends will graduate and be in different countries, and it is never going to be the same. When you are a foreign student, your home doesn’t leave your heart and your heart doesn’t leave here. You just don’t know what to do with yourself.

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I don’t get easily impressed when it comes to food, oh you can make bhindi masala or a quesadilla? good for you, so can a million other people. But I love fusion food, the east meets west or a little of Israeli couscous with idk maybe an Italian touch? Indian Chinese, which btw is pure finesse! The latest, Chinese watercress in an omelet (Smart and healthy!). 

All in all I like it when people do something innovative and create something I have never tasted nor predicted.

I had to be waiting on the 30th street train station, Philadelphia for a bus, around lunch, and since it was too hot outside to enjoy the city and not trying to risk getting sick, I decided to sit around with coffee and a book. After a while I decide to walk around. I come cross this place called Express Crêpe. Looking thru the menu, I came across “Paneer Tikka Crêpe”

WOW

Really?

I told them, “do your thing, and make it as Indian as you can!”

Well I savored it with the utmost delight, and the googler I am, I started googling the recipe right when I was eating it, figuring there is none online. I decided to go back to the shop and ask for one. Uh you know just in case a volcano emerged and erupted in that very spot and the shop got destroyed?

 Image

Ingredients

For the Crêpe

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
 For the Paneer Tikka:
1 Large block of Paneer (curd cheese)
1 onion
1 Capsicum
1 Tomato
Few Mushrooms
Finely chopped Coriander leaves
To Marinade:
1 tsp Garlic paste
1 tsp Ginger Paste
2 tsp Tandoori powder
1 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
2 tsp Chaat powder
Salt to taste
Red chili Powder to taste
 

Directions

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
  2. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  3. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.
  • Cut Paneer into long 1/2″ thick cubes.
  • Cut all vegetables into cubes.
  • Mix all ingredients for marinade and keep aside.
  • Add the left marinade to the vegetables. (typically in Paneer Tikka curd s used to marinade, but they didn’t use it here to prevent sogginess)
  • Brush the marinade to the paneer and refrigerate it for 3 hours.
  • Heat oil in a kadhai and fry marinated paneer till fully done.
  • Also fry other vegetables.
  • In a plate arrange fried vegetables and then paneer.

4. Now take the above and put it on your Crêpe

and vollllaaa

why this works?
well because Crêpes and Cheese do go together! they both lend a similar yet complimenting texture and character to each other! Here they used Paneer that is basically curd cheese and mostly made at home with lemon vinegar and milk (please google recipe). Its a win because it gives the necessary proteins and paneer is also one of the few cheese that doesn’t get you fat.

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I first got to know about the term “Jungle Fever” when I was dating a guy, who told me his friends joked that I was his jungle fever (he was Caucasian, and since I am East-Indian, I had a relatively darker skin). I ofcourse googled it, initially, the whole idea of a term like that was quiet ridiculous to me.

It is also common for guy friends from our own race to get protective and defensive and even angry about us dating outside our race, but they should understand it is nothing personal. By choosing someone else we are not rejecting everyone else, or our own race altogether, we are just simply choosing to be with someone we are interested in. And today they are african, tomorrow they could be someone else.

I have too often heard that white men punish white women who have dated black men by not dating them, or an Indian guy would never marry me or date me just because I had an African boyfriend. Sorry to break this to the generalizers out there, this is all utter crap. Nobody really gives a shit. And those who do, thanks for eliminating yourselves!


The 1991 Spike Lee’s movie touches the subject of attraction between a black man(Wesley Snipes) and a white woman(Annabella Sciorra), often termed as “Jungle Fever” and the taboos surrounding it. The movie depicts how the two are laughed at, judged and even disdained by friends.

If I mustered up enough courage and confessed that, I am mostly attracted to men of African decent, being an East-Indian woman I would be either categorized as someone whose just trying to rebel against her conservative Indian parents or is just a big-cock lover.
Not only can I not say the forbidden out loud to the rest of the world, a rough seventy-five percent of the times I am with a black man, he also bases my attraction to him as a fetish of sorts. I am constantly teased and ridiculed that “she likes it big”. It is a very vulgar generalization. I am too often asked to ‘justify’ my preference. I must have my defenses up. And this aspect of my sexuality is often targeted, even among friends, when it comes to insulting me for something.

Since this is a blog, and I use a pseudonym I get to say it here, I am none of the above, and for the record I do have plenty non-black men who are sexually attracted to me. And it’s not about a guy’s privates that draws a girl towards him. It is as simple as a preference of brunet over blond or breasts versus the butt, which can again be called shallow. But beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. If am not initially attracted to you, due to one or more of your physical traits, face it, I am not going to come over and strike a conversation, or respond convincingly to an approach for that matter; this goes without saying for men and women across the world.

If a black man truly thinks his USP is his dick size, he is obviously selling himself short, and is very shallow with his self-evaluation. I will not deny however, for a one night stand, it could be the main criteria, and well big boobs and nice ass is also a criteria in those grounds. The difference is, one doesn’t have to rely on stereotypes for the same, a girl’s breasts and ass are pretty much there for a quick evaluation, but on the other hand, for a woman, she will rely on the stereotypes for men.

Yet from a dating point of view, it is much more in a good black man that draws women towards him. In general I have found, atleast from the college setting from where I dwell, African men tend to be more athletic, and while at school are more focused and driven. They pay attention to the woman they are with, and do cater to her every need. They represent masculinity to its optimum. The mentioned traits will attract most women to men. Now let me come down to the dirt of it all, aesthetics, I will confess I like the smooth royal dark skin a black man has, his hair which is scant on his body and also the way he handles a woman, is intoxicating. My color against his, creates this beautiful contrast which is a moving art in itself. I also get to be what I want to be, without being judged. When one dates inter-racially there is an openness in the relationship, an obvious willingness to open yourself to someone else and understanding the other person, and where they are coming from. In contrast to an intra-racial, where a lot is taken for granted. There is just so much more to learn and assimilate from an inter-racial interaction. I do not advocate that inter-racial relationships are better than intra, they are just different yet very similar.

Being an East Indian woman, I have been appreciated for my very smooth skin, my sunshine complexion, my hair, my deep eyes, the right amount of curves and also my nurturing side. It’s almost embedded in us, from the beginning to be natural nurtures, some people go to the extent of calling an indian woman the symbol of feminism. So when the african man and an indian woman comes together, it’s almost yin and yang. It’s an explosion, and there is so much mystery and chemistry. Let’s face it, african men, are relatively stronger, and when they get to handle an indian girl, they are usually at their best behavior.

I will confess however, that I am labelled something I am not, that I am asked for and about my preferences, something nobody does to people who are dating within their own race, but it bugs me even more, when a guy I truly like doubts my liking for a fetish. It is ridiculous, a skin color, a hair type, a body type can get a few people attracted to other people but it won’t necessarily keep them going, unless ofcourse they see something in them.

It also becomes easy for a friend in whom I was never interested, not because of his race but because of some other things, like his personality, to simply say “she didn’t date me because I am not black” when in fact I didn’t date him because he was a douche bag! and even ward of potential guys by saying the same. Distasteful!

Author’s Note: If you liked this entry also checkout https://kshity.wordpress.com/2013/02/12/interracial-dating/

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