Is it impossible to be posh and Paki?

For all my talk of poshness – an Irish customer just asked me if my father is a taxi driver as he met a taxi driver who is the spitting image of me and talks just like me

I love being coloured in Britain 🙄

Addendum I’m in the shires not Londonistan (our great capital) and Paki in this country means coloured/brown.

The problem is that we are becoming sophisticated as a people and the WWC (white working class) are not fans of that surge.

Addendum: incidentally it so happens that today is the 1yr anniversary of B.Tap (my dessert bar) and Winston Churchill’s birthday.

After the celebration dinner I convened an emergency late night chapter of the Sherbet Socialists ahead of the important Decolonisation Summit to discuss Taxi Driver incident. Considering these are some of the finest coloured minds in the Shire (disproportionately Stemmies) I asked them to deconstruct my feelings and the incident:

(1.) was I being classist in my original offense? The answer was no because if he had wanted to know if said individual was my father he would have asked if my father was based in so and so rather than immediately state my father’s profession.

(1a.) the chap had a stereotypically Irish accent and probably felt discomforted by the “coloured done well phenomenon.” We agreed that we shouldn’t let incidents undermine our WWC potential allies but rather realise collectively the benefits of solidarity .

(2.) one of the Shrubs posited this was my “Gandhi being thrown off the bus moment.” When Mahatma Gandhi was evicted from the 1st class coach for being Brown/Indian he realised no amount of success or wealth was going to buy him out of his identity. In the same way my taxi driver incident was my Gandhi moment (on Winston Churchill’s birthday no less).

(3.) we agreed that as Coloureds this was equivalent to a #metoo movement. Obviously not in the gravity or scale (sexual harassment is a very different and important phenomenon) but rather in the ingathering and solidarity and discussion of the experiences helped us to realise that we should not be ashamed and internalise these experiences but air them out as I did.

(4.) my racial awakening is only beginning the Sherbet Socialists have yet to begin our difficult task of disseminating subversive & ethnic prose & poetry for the dissemination of a wider audience.

(5.) we agreed that ethnic clothing would be sine non qua for our events irrespective of discomfort to translate our experiences of having to wear & be Western day in and day out.

(6.) I shared the Brahmins on Twitter incident and we agreed that the Shrubs need to urgently familiarise ourselves on cross-solidarity activism. Help each other push back against the convenient narratives of shame.

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21 thoughts on “Is it impossible to be posh and Paki?”

  1. Perhaps it was just an especially posh taxi driver?

    Not sure why you’d want to be posh in the first place, though. Lower-class British accents sound so much better.

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          1. Wasn’t trying to imply that. But if the queen spoke Cockney (and this was a general pattern about the British aristocracy), then everyone raised and schooled in standard British English would speak Cockney.

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      1. Part pure subjectivity, part fondness for regional archaisms, partly a good ol’ fashioned healthy American distaste for pomp and nobility (I think Zach sounds alright though; South Asian-tinged English doesn’t trigger the same reaction).

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  2. Maybe he associates small business proprietors and taxi drivers as proximal social classes, particularly among Asians. In the US for example, there are many examples of Indian physicians who are partners in fast food franchises or similar businesses. I haven’t seen that among WASP physicians who may maintain more social distance from such things. Hence I could see them conjecturing on a connection between an ethnic physician and another class more freely, in a way they wouldn’t for themselves.

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  3. I don’t know much about UK society but aren’t Indians one of the richest communities there?
    Hasn’t that impression rubbed off on all swarthy looking people? Or is it that the Brits can distinguish between Indians and non-Indian browns?

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    1. Londoners tend to understand the difference between Indians and Pakistanis. Bangladeshis are harder to place, but usually slot with us – at least those who aren’t in any obv religious garb. Sikhs would almost never be mistaken for Muslims (unlike the US).

      BTW I have been living in the UK for 14 years (in Cambridge & London) and never been called a “Paki”. At least not within earshot. London is super cosmopolitan and perhaps the experience of brownies in more mofussil English midland towns may be different.

      Apparently my wife and her Pakistani friend were called “brown rats” once by a Cambridge townie…
      What can I say, I never had such blessed luck 😉

      PS: If there’s one thing you should know about Brits it is that they *despise* bragging. Humble-brag is an art the Brit middle class have perfected and Indians (esp the nouveau riche) royally suck at it. So wealth, if any, does not buy Indians much cred.

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  4. You dont need to have color difference to have stereotypes.

    Sri Lankan Tamils would be quite happy to see the Indian Tamil Estate workers disappear from Sri Lanka. Quite a few Tamil legislators voted for the Ceylon Citizenship Act (1948) to deport the even the 2nd gen Indian Tamil (wiki says Tamil politicians opposed, not true, some voted for).

    The basic issue was the that the Tamils, Sinhalese saw on a day to day basis were the Indian Tamils who did menial jobs like street sweeper and night soil removers (that job is long gone). Into the bargain even the women would drink themselves silly after work. So even though the Govt Offices, Banks and Doctors were disproportionately stacked with Jaffna Tamils, the moment you said Tamil the association is Indian Tamil street sweeper.

    Pre 1983 I have been asked “do you know so and so family” in some small town. I didnt even have to ask their occupation, could tell by the name was a Indian street sweeper “sakkili” family. Sakkili is still an derogatory word.

    Post 83 the stereotype of Tamils were Terrorists.

    * Street sweepers are Municipal worker, i.e.state jobs with a pension (think NYC garbage men). Colombo is now screwing the menial Municipal workers. Cleaning services are now contracted out to Abans one of the largest companies in Sri Lanka. Company started by a woman Parsi, Aban Pestonjee.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ceylon_Citizenship_Act
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aban_Pestonjee

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    1. A number of similar sterotypes of Malaysian Indians (but, not for Singapore Tamils): robbers, drinkers of cheap liquor or heavy drinkers, and if they speak English, they must be Singapore Tamil. Of course, all of it is untrue.

      A sad part of this, even the Indians who go to Singapore or Malaysia latch onto stereotypes: get angry when they do not respond in Hindi (Singapore or Malaysian Tamils barely have heard of Hindi); unhappy with Singapore Tamils because they do not work construction ; and arrest Indian laborers for overstaying the visa or drink excessively. An excessively funny situation happens when indian and jaffna Tamil try to converse with Singapore or Malay Tamil and find that they have nothing, not even language in common.

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      1. I think quite a few of the “English speaking” Tamils are descendants of Jaffna Tamils who emigrated in the early 1900’s. SJV Chelvanayagam the iconic Ceylon Tamil politician was born in Malaysia.

        Quite a few relatives out there, Tamil in name only (they still carry the surname). Descendants of my grandfathers brothers.

        eg
        https://thecgf.com/results/athletes/60136
        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70v938dv9sI
        https://www.nst.com.my/lifestyle/groove/2018/10/419124/showbiz-malaysian-lyia-meta-wins-world-music-artist-year-award-us

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