Being a desi in today's globalized world is not easy. You are immersed in so many different cultures and get wounded in so many different clashes of cultures. The result is that you morph into a million mutants. You are that college kid in India with a faux-Hrithik Roshan hairstyle who perennially hopes for that next Aishwarya Rai to sweep you off your dumpy classroom. You are that technogeek who populates the corridors of Microsoft and Cisco. You are also that new bride who migrates to New Jersey and haunts the Indian stores in search of the latest Amitabh movie and curry leaves. And one of your children, bless their cute American accents, will also go on to record the outgoing message on your answering machine. You are equally well the parents of NRIs (en route to Amrika, of course) with your trademark petrified-looks, crouched near other such parents in unfriendly foreign airports. Sociologists will tell you that you are simply a part of that large desi goulash called the Diaspora.
And our dynamics are even more interesting. Especially considering that when it comes to us desis, god gets to roll his dice one extra time and we are constantly left to battle the unknown, the unexpected and the unbelievable. Place two desis in one place and we will discover curious inter-desi interactions - love, hatred, servitude, anger and a penchant to recruit each other for Amway. We are at once hardwired to beat any so-called system in the world (ISO 9001, the conventional mousetrap, Da Vinci Code - you name it) and also programmed to hang on to retrograde ideas and prejudices. We may ultimately colonize the moon, but even then, us desis will remain desis and we will find new Rabri Devis and Lalu Prasad Yadavs in our midst.
In these pages, I have presented a bunch of stories and columns I wrote, based on the donkey- years I had spent as an ex-pat desi in the USA. Some of you may remember that several of these articles first appeared circa 1988, on the Soc.Culture.Indian bulletin board, a precursor to today's desi Internet forums. (Later in 1994 Sridhar Venkataraman even created a website for me and archived them - one of the earliest websites for an individual desi, I am told) Over the years, I have evolved as a writer and you may find a lot of mainstream and experimental writing in this collection. I would like to thank Sulekha for publishing a lot of my newer stories.
I hope some of these stories make you laugh or at least make your lips pout a little. I consider my purpose served if I can make the reader empathize with the protagonist, and in so doing, leads the observer to become the observed. I want you to relate to that universal desi experience and merge into that collective desi identity. And at the end of it, I want all of us to feel even more proud of being a desi. I apologize in advance to the hypersensitive among you, who may take offense at the style or content or simply my propensity to make fun of ourselves. Bash me in the feedback section of this website!
These stories, of course, are best read during office hours, unbeknownst to your boss, with a critical deadline staring at your face.
I can be reached at the
following phone numbers and email address.
011 91 44 2615 2667
011 91 94442 16984 (cell)