Monday, November 2, 2009

Racist, seriously?

** This was in the drafts folder for a long time MORE THAN 3 YEARS. **
There were way too many things going in my head that day. For starters, I was finally in a position where I was accepting resumes instead of doling out them. In an highly reputed institution, if I may add. Rest of group from my company were non-technical folks. Since most of the engineering students typically seek technical position(unaware of the real world company power structure which places the technical engineer at the lowest strata of power), they were all being referred to me.

Doctorates, students working with top of the line Professors were doling out their sales pitches while my awestruck eyeballs wouldn't even move out of their impressive resumes, wondering why they would want to join the positions we had. In short, I was relishing every moment.

And then there was this guy(Indian) standing in the stall opposite me. Initial I had thought he was good looking but on a little intense look, the rotund frame became obvious. Still, incidents in the opposite stall were interesting enough. There was another Indian girl in the stall. Every few moments, the girl would try striking a conversation with the guy. The guy would reply and return to continue his stare on the road.

The girl, not too charming, not too eager but from the distance I could still see the intentions. Except the guy was oblivious to all that.

With all this drama, the conversation that I was having with D, hardly made a impression.
" Oh Sorry S, we would have send all these technical resumes your way."
" I don't think I am qualified enough to evaluate some of these resumes."
"Oh, that's fine. I am sure you would know what we were looking for."
" Some of them even though highly qualified, are not good matches."
" Oh my girl friend should be here soon. I don't where she is..."
" She works for xxx. She just returned form yy today morning, haven't seen her in two weeks"
" You and A are close friends, right?"
" Are you dating him?"
This time, I got out of stupor, nodded my head in an Indian no way. I am such a schmuck, I couldn't even get to say, I don;t date.
" You don't like me"
"No, I like you, you ride a bike"
Uwww.. can I really get a lamer answer? If I rate all the lame answers, that would be the lamest but the truth is, I couldn't really think of anything else about him.

Then he said those words, " You are a racist S."
" I am just kidding."
Then the conversation drifted off to the something else.

Everything else blurred off after then.
It sounded absurd at first. Me, a racist? I wasn't harassing anybody due to their race. I wasn't harassing anybody period. But then all my friends are Indians ever since I moved to this place. I don't even find a necessity to talk to people from other countries.

I came to this country to earn money. I entered first for studying but let's face it, studies really didn't draw me. The fact that if I could find funding I would earn twice the money as a student than what the best jobs in India offered for a newbie like me did.

Of course, I fell in love with subject after I came here with all the opportunities, exposure to cutting edge technology, the fine professors, facilities, it was hard not to.

Again the first time I ever heard about coming to USA for the experiencing the multi-cultural environment was from the roommates. Before that it didnt cross my mind.

The place I went to grad school was 95% Caucasians. So, interactions were inevitable.

The place I have moved to after that has a minimum 30% Indians. A home away from home. Mini-India and so on. The necessity to develop friendships with Non-Indians just vanished. I always spoke to them. But never looked at them for long enduring friendships. Not that the incident changed my life or that I have removed the mental block from my head.

It still exists. I still don't consider my behavior racist. I talk to all my colleagues across races. I talk to anybody who talks with me. But deep friendships form on their own. Just to avoid a tag, you couldn't really develop fake friendships!

I am not discriminating, right?


  1. no you dont develop friendships just to avoid a tag, you develop them because you want to...because they're no different than the people you do make friends with...but human tendency is always to stick with what one knows than go out of the way to befriend the unknown...that's not racist, i think it is more like a comfort zone, some people like to step out of it, while others dont, you probably come in the latter...

  2. Same here...I dont have any non-Indian friends. My research group is 5 Indians and a lone American, and I have cordial relationship with him. Racism is when we do not even want to consider the possibility that a person of certain race/creed/caste/nationality can be our friend, ain't it....

    I feel comfortable with all my desi friends. I have friends here in the US, who do not want to move around with desis, stay with Americans and gotten themselves American GF's...

    I just have not got out of my comfort-zone (in fact most of the group that I hang out with are Tamil Iyer boys...that should not mean racism to other indians...)

  3. UL: yep, exactly.
    Kaushik: "hang out with are Tamil Iyer " always wonder why that happens. there has been a mass movement of the category i suppose.

  4. Hey Sachita,
    Sorry was on vacation.
    I get tamil songs from
    no you are not racist ;--) We tend to get close to those with similar views, likes, etc and those you can relate to, and it is difficult to find that with non indians bcos of different 'bring-ups', unless you bcome too americanized after coming here.
    But yes CA and esp all tech companies have too many indians. Mini-india you are right. :--) A little too much for my comfort.

  5. SK: "A little too much for my comfort."?

    in this case i had other friends who werent americanized but mingled perfectly but i couldnt. which is probably why he thougt so considering i was quite social within the indian circles.

  6. I guess we crave so much for home that anyone who speaks iyer baashai.. or even tamil ends up high on our favorites list.. very subconscious but true.
    There may be others for whom the familiarity is mrrored in some other quality. Just that yours is very obvious and blatant to the eye.

    Oh yes. I am guilty to it too.

  7. You are definitely not a racist!!When I was the only Indian in my team,I used to talk to everyone from different countries, but the moment another desi joined the group, though way younger, I felt this brother bondage(LOL).
    I talk personally to many of my team mates, but with the desi ones, it is always just a wee bit more and I feel like I have to look after the guy..

    And so, you are not a racist.

  8. yeah, it is the comfort factor, but the only problem is if you are alone and the others dont get close to you citing the same comfort feeling... that wud be horrible, isnt it?