Sunday, August 14, 2011

How it feels like to be a minority?

Life in India has been somewhere between a dream and a nightmare for me. Just like anything else in the world, life in India also has two sides to it – the better and the worse. I have lived the first 24 years of my life (I’m just over 26) in different parts of India and have travelled a lot to see how it looks like in different corners. No prize for guessing what was common in all the corners of India – Hinduism. Wait, wait, wait. If you think I’m one of those ‘Policing’ types who want to gain TRP by criticizing India and Hinduism, I’m not. I just want to share my experiences with you.

So, as I said, I’ve spent 24 years in India and then moved to Dubai for MBA and then job. That’s where I learnt that people can be discriminated against within the purview of law. Anyways, first few months passed by overwhelmed with the grandeur of Dubai – the city of superlatives. Every road was a miracle, every building an epitome of expertise. For some time, I went to Singapore to complete my MBA, but couldn’t forget the extravaganza of Dubai. I always wanted to come back and settle here in a chilled out environment (though artificially so).

Now when I’m here and especially during the month of Ramadan, a strange thought stuck my mind. I realized that I am a minority in this country of Moslems, ironically categorized among the most metropolitan cities of the world. I realized that no matter what religion you belonged to, the food courts in the malls won’t open for you before 6:30pm. You can’t smoke a cigar in open even if your building is a No Smoking building and you are a chain smoker. Nice way of forcing people to quit smoking, isn’t it? The utmost paradox that I faced was when I went to watch Bridesmaids and found out that the food outlets were not open for anyone. I was confused whether Moslems were allowed to watch movies during Ramadan. And if not, then what’s the harm of opening the outlets for those who want to watch the movies.

The most amazing thing is about the language. I never thought that language can be so much intertwined with religion. I found this out while trying to learn Arabic. Almost every salutation, with only rare exceptions, has the name of almighty Allah in it in one or the other forms. I don’t know if we have it in Hindi as well, but it’s not there in English for sure. But Arabic has it and you are expected to learn and use it with your clients, colleagues and friends.

While I come across these things everyday in Dubai, I think about the Moslems and other minorities in India. Would they be in a similar situation? Do the Indian Moslems also feel left out when the PM goes and conducts Bhumi Poojan for a power plant? Do they also feel awkward to be the only odd name in the office? What do they think about when people look at them with a feeling of vengeance when they do not appear to be respecting the local customs of the land, which, most of the times mean the Hindu customs? I’m still looking for answers.