April 11, 2008

Love thy neighbour? My foot!

For an Indian growing up in the 'communally sensitive' city of Hyderabad and having watched the menace of cross border terrorism grow from murders in Kashmir to bomb blasts 5 minutes from my home, I have nothing but the deepest hatred for all things Pakistan.

I remember Wasim Akram once said in an interview that when he first came to India he half expected to find devils with horns walking on the street. My notion of Pakistan, and as an extension Pakistanis was not very different. Though that particular notion has since been put to rest, I have found new reasons to continue my contempt for the nation.

The first time I met a Paki (I use the term purely as short form for 'Pakistani' and not in the derogatory sense), in fact two of them, was in Dubai on stopover to London, which, incidentally, my first overseas travel.

As much as I dislike it I do look like someone across the border, and thus they misunderstood me to be a Pakistani. They surely did not look Indian to me and I guessed at once that they were from Punjab across the border. When I told them I was an Indian they were surprised but when I told them that I was from Hyderabad, they were sort of relieved: 'So that is the reason you speak such good Urdu!'.

Now, as much as I admire Mughal-e-Azam and the fact that I watched it in a theater, I do not consider myself a good exponent of the language. I was only speaking what can best be described as 'Hindustani', which is really a khichdi of Hindi and Urdu. I had heard Rameez Raza speak similarly on TV and refer to it as Urdu but experiencing it first hand was something else!

Once in London you cannot miss interacting with the neighbours, be they Pakis or Bangladeshis. Most of them undertake manual labour and are here only because of the money (what else!). They usually try to juggle 2 or 3 jobs so as to make more money. Since the pay for a white collared job and for manual labour in the UK is not very different, they can chalk out a decent living and save in pounds.

Most of the restaurants owned by these 'neighbours' are proudly classified as 'Indian restaurants' and are unimaginatively titled 'taste of India', 'prince of India' and the like, especially if they are owned by Banglas. The one dead giveaway is of course the menu which would have dishes like 'Shobze masala' (sabzi masala) and 'Balti masala'. In case of Paki restaurants, of course, you find a lot more kabab varieties then normal and a very low sense of hygiene, so it is not difficult to identify.

The watchman (called here as the 'concierge'), in our apartment is also a Paki but for heavens knows why the bastard has married an Indian. He talks about India-Pakistan friendship a lot - he goes the whole length and says things like 'yeh sarhaden to in politician logon ne banaayi hain varna hamaare dil ek hain' etc etc. He said he wanted to go to see the Taj Mahal for his honeymoon but was denied a visa. All said and done I dont believe him a jot even after two years. It does not help that a van allegedly belonging to a 'Kashmir relief group' (also written in Urdu) arrives to meet him once in a while.

I have sensed that they consider the Mughal era as some sort of a golden period when they ruled the whole of the sub continent and the fact that all of the remains of the period stayed with India really gets to them.

I found it very funny that after all the anti India talk they do, they still watch Indian movies, TV serials, and even news channels. (as long as they are not talking about Kashmir!) They love India for all that it has to offer but also hate it wholeheartedly because that is what they were supposed to do in the first place!

Many of the Pakistani artists and sportspersons live off India: their singers sing in our movies; their comedians perform in our shows; half of their Cricket team is playing in the ICL, the other half of course in the IPL, and the hockey players have already been playing the IHL!

While it helps in people-people contact and all that non sense, I never understood why we as a nation never got over this unnecessary and uncalled for desire to help out Pakistan. Maybe it comes from Mahatma Gandhi granting 55 Crore to Pakistan (was that a starting bonus of some kind?)

The Pakis, on the other hand, expect India to fulfill its duties all the time. Javed Miandad for example, said recently that the BCCI should help PCB by coming over for an ODI series! Not that I'm sourcing most of my opinion from Cricket, but when we are talking of India and Pakistan, it is generally an excellent indicator.

Now they have got to a situation where they bred this monster as a weapon to use against India but it has gone out of hand. I hope we resist any temptation to help them out. They would fight among themselves and there would be fewer left for us to finish off.