We had a Pakistani Dinner late and it was quite a laugh (even though I’m quite Indianised these days & constantly rant about Muslims, I do love my Pakis). One of my friends brought along a white lady who joined us. As we left the dinner she asked me if I was fully Pakistani because I was lighter than the rest and they looked “more Indian.” She then mentioned that I could pass off as a Spaniard, which frankly was BS ???.
I was much annoyed (not faux-annoyed because it seemed like she was giving me a compliment) because I’m instantly taken for an Indian (& happily so) whereever I am in the West (not Arab not Middle East not even Persian). I am usually seen as Indian or Muslim (especiallywhen I wear a beard, which is what I am, the collision of the Ummah & Mother India) in an all-white context; it takes a very discerning white person to see me as anything other than those.
A good rule of thumb is that the rounder my face the “desier” I look, the leaner the more Persian I get (an Iranian friend told me that and it makes sense).
What I found interesting is that in an all-desi context (which has been a while) my “otherness” admittedly did jump out (I felt it myself but then this was a predominantly salt of the earth Punjabi table, where the Urdu spoken has a nasal quality to it). If I had been with Muhajirs (of the KGS strata) or Pathan-Punjabi mixes it wouldn’t have felt so stark; this was a case of regional rather than national differentiation. But Punjabis own Pakistan and good for them, some compensation for the horrid they had to undergo at partition.
I find this bestowing of “light privilege” by white people to be ridiculous and micro-aggressive (microaggression is a thing!).
It’s not that we don’t have our colour fixations in South Asia (and the Middle East) but colour is a spectrum/gradation rather than a stark barrier. There are dark Brahmins after all (even though I once heard a quip in Kampala that never trust a dark Brahmin lol) the Aryans seemed much more partial to mixing & mingling than Southern Slaveholder Landlords.
The divide & rule concept with which goras have categorised and classified coloured people borders on the ridiculous. One can be considered coloured if they have two or more of the following; dark hair, dark eyes and dark skin. The distinction between Meds & Middle Easterners (swarthy Sicilians are essentially like Levantines) does get more hazier but I do have to agree with Ta-Nehisi Coates that I find the concept of “white” to be more of a political than a racial construct. Human societies have always grappled with light & dark (with preference for the former usually but then with few exceptions invaders tend to stem from the icy north) but black & white is a distinction that seems to have arose in the slave-holding societies in the New World (don’t take my word for it I’m not a scholar!)
Adios (gotta practise my Spanish now)
Ps: while my wife has done a very good job in Indianising me; as soon as I am in a Pakistani crowd my Pak-narrative conditioning kicks in and I blend in like a chameleon (that’s what my best friend calls me since I like to constantly blend in). I’m such a Munafiq!
Mahira Khan is of course Pakistan’s biggest actress and she seems to be dating Ranbir Kapoor (in this picture he looks the spitting image of his Dad Rishi).
Of course Twitterstan is going mad with calling Mahira an infidel and what not for betraying her country for a Hindu Indian (no matter that the Kapoors, like so many of their caste, are sons of an Indus soil).
My only take in all this is that good on Mahira for expressing herself and living life to the fullest. However kindly stop playing the Virgin in Distress (Hum Safar, Bin Roye, Sadeqay Tumhara & Sheree Zaat). It’s that hypocritical strain in Pakistani culture that we must constantly project this hyper-idealised version of reality where women have no autonomy or sexual freedom apart from their role as good Muslim mothers.
In Hum Safar she accepts her treatment at her mother-in-law Farida’s schemes. In Bin Roye she punishes herself with a tortuous (and unconsummated) marriage while in Sheree Zaat she atones for her arrogance by becoming a good Namaazi. While Sadeqay Tumhara (which is a truly fantastic show along with the groundbreaking Hum Safar) she allows her future to be ruined by her mother.
Mahira has created a dangerous template for a female lead in Pakistani dramas; Kashaf (played by Sanam Saeed) in Zindagi Gulzar Hai is a much more autonomous and forward looking character but even in that brilliant show the central message was on the Mother’s Sacrifice so shall the Good Life be built. Pakistani culture needs to start giving our Women Room to Breathe and allow them to make their Mistakes/choices the way the Menfolk are given that Carte Blanche.
Good luck Mahira, Mahira Khan-Kapoor has a good ring to it & with your Star Presence you will smash Bollywood (you were the best thing in Raees, maybe I’m being jingoistic when I say that but Paki pride still runs deep lol).
Why one earth is the Pakistani delegate wearing a translation piece? Even I, with my much weaker grasp of Hindustani (decent enough to understand Pakistani dramas), could understand most of this clip with the exception of a few Sanskriti/Shuddh Hindi words here & there.
Our ancestors, Persia’s first-born, preserved their ancient faith in the underground warrens of Yazd. Zarthushti houses had to be on a lower level to Muslim homes so that if it rained the water of infidels couldn’t contaminate that of the believers. It is only fair that for the sake of those ancestors who have sacrificed so much that at least some of their descendants should go on to light the sacred fire for the generations to come.
Twitter is in a huff about Jiyo Parsis’s last-gasp campaign to raise the anemic Parsi birthrate through blunt ads. The liberal opposition are featuring an angsty article denouncing JP as racists:
Imagine a khap panchayat in rural Haryana – a kangaroo court of village elders – launching a slick ad campaign encouraging members of their caste to marry (each other) and rapidly multiply to increase their dwindling numbers.
(Disclaimer: I had my Navjot when I was nine, despite having a Hindu father.)
Anahita Mukherji is a US-based journalist who has a quarter-Parsi son with a full-Parsi name.
The author’s father is a Bengali Brahmin and she herself married out of the Parsi caste. Anahita’s only sop to her mother’s identity is to give her son a Parsi name.
Now she’s the designated American voice of the (liberal) pushback against those Indian Parsis who understandably want to preserve Zoroaster’s bloodline for posterity. If the Parsi community were to follow Anahita’s personal example; they’d be extinct in a generation.
She has every right to lead her life as she sees fit but it is unacceptable to hector others to follow her PC non-solutions. When it comes to the Parsi community there are simply no lemmings left to fall of the cliff.