What would RTH do?

That is the question.

If I were in a highschool yearbook, they would vote me most likely to die of a lynch mob. That does not prevent me from opening my mouth and serving a warm hearty cup of STFU to people who deserve it. My dark scathing humor will leave no matter of existence untouched. My innocence will touch your soul.

Welcome to a warped world turned inside out and upside down. All sorts of discretion advised.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I am not Trayvon Martin

But, I could be.

Well, I am a South Asian female. Usually, we are an unlikely group to be discriminated against. We're considered the coy model minority types. However, I look Hispanic. When I cut my hair real short, I look like an Hispanic boy from a distance.

Many years ago I was mowing the lawn, when an elderly gentleman passing by told me he liked my diligent work. He asked how much I charged for yard maintenance. I smiled and told him politely that I lived here. He walked away surprised. I always brag about the incident as a testament to my fine lawn mowing skills. I do a really neat job. The lawn looks fantastic. But there is a sad truth ingrained within. It is a testament of our racial prejudices and stereotypes. A young Hispanic working in the yard is immediately perceived as a gardener, a manual laborer. The thought that he could be a homeowner or resident of the neighborhood still surprises.

A few days ago I was walking late night. As always I was lost in my own world day dreaming. In my daze of day dreaming I accidentally walked up to my neighbors house and tried opening the door. It took a while for it to register in my mind that I was standing on the wrong porch. My neighbors are also Indians like us. They know me well. Even if I had accidentally startled and awoken them, we would have laughed about it.

I shudder when I think what it would have been like in Florida. What if I was in a white neighborhood where no one knew me. What if I was visiting a friend and accidentally walked up to the wrong house late night. The fact that there is a possibility that someone could shoot at me is positively terrifying. The fact that people are so mistrusting and would immediately deem a person of color as a robber or burglar is disturbing.

The Trayvon Martin case has reignited the debate of race dynamics in the United States. Today President Barack Obama made a gutsy move by speaking to the nation from the perspective of an African American. His speech was eloquent, thoughtful and poignant. What was impressive was the fact that he acknowledge the fact that crime and violence is prevalent in the African American community. He showed an understanding of how and why stereotypes are formed and called for the nation to find solutions.

I'm not perfect. Despite being a colored person, I am racially prejudiced as well. Even I have been guilty of looking at African American men with suspicion. Sometimes I feel scared if I'm alone and there are plenty of black people around. I don't feel that fear around Asians or Whites. So I understand George Zimmerman's perspective as well. He saw a black man and got scared. He was genuinely concerned for the well being of his neighborhood and its safety. I'm not going to demonize him when I know very well I'm no saint. I completely empathize with him. George Zimmerman isn't a bad man. He didn't mean to cause death and pain. He made a mistake.

But that is that. Just because I empathize with him doesn't mean I feel his actions are justified. Even good men makes mistakes. And when you make costly mistakes like the ones that take innocent lives you have to have consequences and pay the price. And it is because I get him, I can say without doubt that he is a racist who profiled Trayvon Martin. I say that because I am guilty of the same, and I feel terrible about it. My prejudices break my heart and I want to be a better person. I don't know if George Zimmerman can say the same. He killed an unarmed boy and got away with it. This would not have happened if Trayvon Martin was a white boy.

Another important point to note is that had George Zimmerman listened to the 911 operators and gone back home, we wouldn't be discussing this today. It would have just been that brief moment of asinine profiling we all do and hopefully try to reflect and learn from it in the future. He defied the advice of the experts and took matters in his own hands. Instead of backing off and ending a scuffle with a kid and a bag of skittles he decided to fatally shoot the kid. Not a warning shot that would have told the boy to scurry, but a shot that took the kid's life.

No George Zimmerman is not a bad man. He is not a cold blooded murdered. He didn't want this to happen. But he did kill an innocent kit. It was a mistake. But he did defy common sense, authorities and human compassion and chose to take the fatal route. He is guilty of manslaughter or at least accidental death. He should pay a price for his racial profiling, defiance of authority and taking an innocent life.

Many people say that Trayvon Martin shouldn't have attached George Zimmerman. There is a point there. I agree. That was stupid and reckless. But if we defend George Zimmerman with stand your ground, what about Trayvon. If you are being followed and think you maybe at risk, wouldn't you want the right to stand your ground? What if Trayvon had a gun? What if he was scared to death of that creepy man following? What if he tried to fire a warning shot but his hands were so shaky he killed George Zimmerman? Would we defend him for standing his ground? Would we still say it was in self defense? Or would we assume the worst - that he is a black male prone to violence?

Let us not kid ourselves. We are all a bunch of fucking racists. We are all victims and propagators of prejudices. This post is not just about George Zimmerman or Trayvon Martin. This post is to ask a bigger question - How do we become better people? How do we build a better society? How do we make the world safer and better for the future?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

The Beasts of Our Lives (Part 4)

It has been quite a while since I updated my tails (misspelling intentional) about our furry friends, the beasts of our lives. A recent comment on my blog spoke about childhood that made me nostalgic about my childhood again. I was reminded once again of these beasts that played their part to make my life magical.

The Beasts of Our Lives (Part 1)
The Beasts of Our Lives (Part 2)
The Beasts of Our Lives (Part 3)

Rocky

He is by far one of the handsomest dogs I have ever seen. He was the son of Chibud and Rani, and it seems he was a mutt who got the best of all genes. Tall, stocky, incredibly muscular, Rocky was built like a powerhouse. The Pitbull genes in him showed in his well built body. Sharp, sleek, elegant and regal, Rocky was a Mister Universe amidst dogs. The German Shepherd genes showed in his sexy good looks and intellect. Even as a little puppy, Rocky just towered above the rest.

Dogs like Rocky are frightening and intimidating. No one wants to get on the wrong side of a dog that is so quick and so powerfully built. But our Rocky was a gentle giant. Much more of a cuddly teddy bear than a dog. In fact he was quite a bit of a doofus. I don't think he had any idea on how massive his size was. I don't think he ever realized that he could probably rip apart a gang of dogs on his own. I don't think he knew that one bellowing bark could have sent humans covering away in fear.

The other dogs often bullied him and stole his chew sticks and food. Little kids found him an adorable mountain to climb and a fanciful horse to ride. Me, I loved having this massive beast rubbing against my legs like a pussy cat. I enjoyed having men who didn't know better shudder at the sight of this monster padding in my shadows. And I think despite his silly goofy cuddly nature, the Pitbull and German Shepherd in him kept a watchful eye on all us kids.

Ruby

Soft, black, with the most beautiful soulful eyes, Ruby was another one of Rani's daughters that survived. She was the most unique of Rani's puppies because she was the only one with black fur. Also unlike her siblings she had longer hair instead of the typical soft hair.

Ruby is imprinted in my memory because my dad and I saved her life. We don't know if it was a fight or an accident, but Ruby suffered a major gash in her shoulder. My dad noticed that her gash had become infested with maggots. If nothing was done she could lose her limb and possibly even her life. So we took her to the vet where her wound was washed with antiseptic. The vet and his assistants too tweezers and scissors and deftly pulled out any remaining maggots.

I have a major gag reflex. The sight of real live blood and gore makes me sick to the stomach. I remember my stomach churning as I watched Ruby being treated. My heart wrenched every time she whimpered in pain. But I also learned that I could stomach anything and everything for ones I love. I remember checking her wound regularly and learning to tweeze out maggots. I became diligent about checking all my neighborhood gang of dogs for wounds, ticks, maggots - even though it grossed me out. When I remember Ruby, I wonder if I should have toyed with my fragile stomach and become a vet.

Sheila

Most of Brownie's puppies never survived. One really startling exception was Sheila. Startling because she wasn't timid, weak or sickly like most of Brownie's puppies - but was surprisingly hale and hearty. Not only was she hale and hearty, but she also exceptionally playful. Every time she saw us, she would come to us running in leaps and bounds. She was so hyperactive, she was always bouncing off the walls like crazy. She was the kind of dog who wanted to knock you over each time by jumping up to you and covering you with many wet kisses. I think she was a favorite amidst my cousins.

The Others

Apart from our pets and our gangs of dogs in Vashi, many family members had pets that I knew throughout my childhood. Like Cookie, my uncle's adorable border collie. Dumbo and Puffer, Cookie's two precocious feline sisters. There was Tiger, the Doberman who intervened with barks to end every fight. Snoopy the very naughty, naughty poodle who rolled himself blue in pool chalk one day. Tipu, a big lovable lug of a goofy Great Dane who knocked people over in affection. I'll never forget Zorro, the massive overweight Doberman and Silver, the tiny little yippy Pomeranian who bossed him around. The love of my life was Pia, a most adorable cat at my great grandfather's place in Udipi and her whole brood of kittens. And of course the many Tommys and Dasus my great grandfather had including the one who chomped my jaw because he loved Pia more than me. And then the last time I went to India, I met Shaggy my cousin's fuzzball and Coffee a neighborhood stray whom my aunt was convinced had the soul of Socks in him.

Soon I will write about the beasts we met in the USA.