Tuesday, August 07, 2012

The Joys of Faith!


I have to hand it to the Young Muslim Politician who Feast in the Middle of Ramadan from Pasir Ris GRC aka Thambi Pundek for having the ability to rescue me whenever I get hit by a bout of writers block or some other distraction. He has knack of raising topics that bring out the aggressive side in me and after a session of talking rot with him, I feel inspired to blog.

It was a magnificent day today. He decided that he needed to meet up with the Naan maker and me this afternoon and being the good self-respecting Muslim that he is, he proceeded to assist us in polishing off two bottles of wine and a little roast chicken in the middle of the Ramadan Day. To show his appreciation, he happily posed for a photo with a glass of wine in front of him and then proceeded to take few snap shots of the chicken.

Anyway, we were all happily enjoying this little much-munch session in the middle of the Ramadan day when he decided to try and influence the Naan Maker into becoming a “Mit Romney Supporter.” He proceeded to talk about how we needed to strong Republican President who would support Bibi Nethanyahu’s bid to get peace in the Middle East and that the Palestinians needed to learn to use the tongue and not the gun. He proceeded to then take the tone of moral superiority and claim, “What George Bush II did in Iraq was a noble act.”

That set me off. I told him to stop being a “Pundek” (Tamil for cunt) and actually look at facts on the ground. Let’s face, I have Jewish relatives whom I love dearly but that does not distract me from the obvious fact – the Jaudi’s have no intention of making peace and they are actively engaging in terrorist activities by stealing land, which nobody recognizes as theirs. While the Jaudi’s engage in daylight theft, the Western World under American Leadership endorses it. While the West bleats on about the possibility of Iran having the bomb, it continues to allow Israel to “neither admit nor deny” having a range of nasty little toys.

Anyway, the Naan maker must have gotten a little worried and did what he could to make peace. I think was still pretty belligerent. I will not accept that the Western view of the Middle East is the one that I need to follow and I don’t see why I should accept a lie just because the people sprouting it happen to be a shade of pink.

The kid has a way of bringing up what irks me the most – the mentality of a slave. He’s got this idea in his head that the only way to live is to ape the mighty powers of the world, which is what his masters in the little village do.

To be fair, you can’t blame him in the sense that the powers-that-be in Singapore have done a relatively good job at creating prosperity and stability. However, it doesn’t mean that they’re right all the time and it doesn’t mean that one shouldn’t strike against conventional views especially when convention is wrong.

Furthermore, he suffers from a symptom common to many colonized folks. He desires to be like the colonizer. This symptom is particularly acute in Indians. The moment they get their US or British passports, there is a tendency to become obnoxiously so. I have a friend who happens to be Tanzanian born and can’t stop reminding people that he has a US passport. This symptom becomes even more acute when it comes to the UK. As Russell Peters so elegantly says, “Every Indian has an ancestral homeland – it’s called ‘The United Kingdom.’”  

In fairness to the Indians, they’re not alone in this. The US Department for Home Land Security has become an expert at using neutralized citizens against their former kinsmen. Two of the least pleasant experiences I’ve had with US immigration have come from Chinese (the first time it happened, I was in my late teens and they were giving us hassle for not having a‘re-entry’ permit. He had to end with a threat – we’ll take away your green card. My gut reaction was – shove it, take it back. I was, however, with my mum and discretion was the better part of valor.)

While I do admit that life in the West is generally more comfortable than in most places, I have NEVER understood the desire to be like the “colonizer.” I NEVER felt that I was being “liberated” by the West or Westerners. It was ingrained inside me from day one that colonial masters were only good for one thing – target practice.

This doesn’t mean that I don’t appreciate systems that the colonial powers had in place. I put it this way; I’m educated in the British system, which for the most part remains a pretty darn good one at preparing you for life. I also enjoy the finer things about Western culture. American movies, English literature and since I’ve been involved in a French restaurant – French food.

I have been blessed by Westerners in the family and friends. I enjoy the company of a good many Westerners, who may not be close friends and family.

However, I’ve never felt an emotional need to be like them nor did I ever want to identify myself as being a Westerner. I identified and in many ways, I still identify with the people who defy and kick out larger colonial powers.

It’s not very patriotic for me to say it but what Lee Kuan Yew did seems shallow and meaningless (though it has proven beneficial) when compared to the blood, sweat, brains and heart that guys like Mao, Ho Chi Minh and Gandhi put in. When kids my age were fantasizing about being Rambo and the guys with the cool tanks, I wanted to be the men in little black pajamas, shooting at the chaps in the tanks.

Yes, Singapore has prospered by following the conventional path of building up a sound infrastructure and letting the multinationals come in. We’ve prospered. I am a direct product of that prosperity. My father made money from advertising, an industry which is as Western and Capitalistic as it gets. At one stage, I wanted to be a banker.

I should be grateful that I was born in Singapore and in many ways I am. However, when you look at how much we avoid a struggle and compare it to the struggle that our Asian neighbours have had, you start to see why our youth are like the Young Muslim Politician from Pasir Ris GRC who feasts and drinks in the middle of the Ramadan Day aka Thambi Pundek and they have young people like my little Thuy who throw a tantrum when they’re late to school.

When you make these comparisons, it’s easy to see why the government was so open about letting in people from elsewhere come in to do what needs to get done.

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