Monday, January 17, 2011
Salman Ahmed of Junoon said in Shoaib Mansoor's Gulls n Guys, "Agar aik Pakistani gora banna chahay aur na ban sakay, to woh aik ajeeb cartoon ban jata hai. Agar woh is main kamyab ho jaye, to aur bhi bara cartoon ban jata hai." (If a Pakistani fails trying to be white, he becomes a strange cartoon. If he succeeds, he becomes an even bigger cartoon) And it's only now that I understand what he meant.
I mentioned in an earlier post that my college has a vast variety of people and here I will talk about the foreigners. They come in all shapes and sizes and from many countries. Most are Made in USA while some come from Canada and fewer from other Asian countries. Only the ones from the west are ethnically Pakistani, though that is a curse for most of them.
Before I go on to rant aimlessly, let me clear a few things. Firstly, not all foreigners I know are the same. Some are very reasonable. Secondly, my college is to blame mostly. I had a friend in A Level in Beaconhouse from Canada and we're still like best friends. My current medical college is...well...let's just put it this way that I have more sworn enemies than marginal friends because I have an uncontrolled tendency to hit hypocrisy where it hurts most.
Let's describe the average Pakistani-American. He's cooler than a Pakistani, even if his shirt says "Born on the street". He plays basketball better than a Pakistani, even if his baby hands can't score from under the basket. He doesn't give a crap about anybody, even if he drools at the sight of an average LGS chick. He might not accept your friend request, but he'll add you himself to see what a girl posted on your wall. He's more honest than a Pakistani, even if he bribes every lab attendant. He's smarter than a Pakistani, even if he relies completely on cheating to pass. He has a better knowledge of Islam than a Pakistani, even if he attempts the Ethics paper instead of Islamiat. He hates cricket (because Pakistanis love it), even if he's the vice-captain of the college cricket team. His music choice is much better than a Pakistani, even if he cannot name two rock bands. He thinks Pakistanis are a disgusting nation, even if he openly expresses his Oedipus complex. He hates coming to Pakistan but hey, it has cheap education.
In short, he's a Pakistani, only not one. He's just like us, only completely different.
I first met their clan in my first few days in the college. I clicked with one to start with and he took me there. Coming from the A Level community and having watched a gazillion movies, I'm able to fake the American accent pretty well. And so I did. After a normal conversation, one asked me, "Which state are you from?" I said, "I'm from here, only from a different school than most people here". And suddenly, there was a dramatic background music. I grew smaller as they all grew taller, looking down on me with that despicable gaze. There was an actual uncomfortable silence like I just confessed an unforgivable crime. But I was only to be surprised the next few years.
After a few days, I was chattering with an Iranian and an American when the Iranian said my accent was very American. I don't think Hitler would be that offended of being called a Jew as the American was by that comment. He spent the next few minutes explaining to the Iranian how we were two completely different people as I stood there smiling in disdain.
Before I get lost going deeper, here are a few conversations of particular interest.
1) Pakistan had just won the 2009 T20 tournament, so this American updates his facebook status: "Fuck cricket"
American 2: Yea, these fuckin paki niggers, i can't even go out. they're in the streets etc.
Me: "Fuckin paki niggers", I like that.
American 2: Hell yea.
Me: I was being sarcastic in case anybody didn't get it. :)
-no more replies-
2) American: Why are Pakistanis so corrupt?
Pakistani: Did you pay that lab attendant for the practical?
Pakistani: I didn't.
American: But that's different.
-end of conversation-
3) American: Why do you hate America?
Me: I don't. Matter of fact, I love America. I love their music and movies. I just get pissed when you diss my country.
American: Oh yea? Well I get pissed when you diss my country.
You must be thinking, what is my problem? Well, my problem is that one should never forget his origins. Life in Pakistan might have become too difficult but that does not mean you should go into a denial of not being a Pakistani if you're born and/ or raised abroad. You might call yourself an American in Pakistan, but in the US, you'll always be a Pakistani-American.