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American born confused American

American born confused American
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Those familiar with Anurag Mathur’s novel The Inscrutable Americans will agree when I say the central character, Gopal- a goofy small-town boy who goes to study in the States, is nothing less than a hero. Might seem commonplace today but, back in 1991, not many managed to.

I remember my cousin being accorded a sort of celebrity-status when he was first sent to Amreeka, in 1999, by his employers- an Indian multinational IT major. Congratulatory calls poured in, sweets were distributed, envious glances were cast, conspiracy rumours swirled, and tears (of joy/jealousy/ecstasy/pride) were shed. I remember reading a letter from him that mentioned pizza, snow, and Hollywood. What was to not like? Any impressionable 13 year-old would be enamoured! But, I was an oddball, and didn’t fall for it, much to my mother’s utter dismay. Plenty others did, and thus started the export of fine Indian brains!

Coming back to Mathur’s Gopal, now he was a bit of a bumpkin. One of his first thoughts when he arrived in Amreeka was, ‘most surprising thing about America is…everywhere Americans…big and white, it is a little frightening’. I distinctly remember laughing uproariously when I read it the first time. Yet, when I think about it now, it seems a lot deeper. Americans aren’t restricted by geographical boundaries. The world is full of Americans, because America is an idea that has spread all over. It isn’t just a nation. It’s a way of life. One can now spell American, talk American, dress American, eat American, think American, live American. And, it IS a little frightening.

Now, I’m no political commentator. I’m just an artiste with a mind of her own. Those of you familiar with the political scenario and policies of the USA might well dismiss my views as vague, ill informed, and half-baked. But, my voice resonates with lacks of other regular folks the world over when I say that it bothers me to see one country in the middle of every storm in every corner of the world. It bothers me that one country successfully lures away the most intelligent minds across the world. It bothers me that one country holds the fate of tens of others. It bothers me that one country is cunning enough to spy on the whole world. It bothers me that one country is so utterly vain that they think everything that goes on in this world concerns them! It bothers me like it bothers hundred thousands of others!

The US, since 9/11 has, at every opportunity, made a puppy face and asked, ‘why do they hate us’. I wonder if they’ve ever searched within for answers. Why would any sane country, a superpower at that, look for excuses to bomb other nations?! This question never fails to baffle me. Bombing seems to have become America’s solution to every issue that may or may not concern them. Bill Maher, in a piece for The Guardian, once wrote, ‘Since 1945, when Jesus granted America air superiority, we’ve bombed Korea, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Lebanon, Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Serbia, Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya and Yemen. And Yemen only because the tenth one was free’. That pretty much sums it up.

I’m no fan of institutionalised religion. My interest is as deep as the USA’s concern for global peace! So I’m nobody to comment on if/why Islam seems to be at the root of most instances of terrorism the world over. What baffles me is how quickly America has arrived at the conclusion that the fault lies in a particular community only. Are they’re sneakily reading the Quran instead of the Bible, and drooling over fairies and nymphs in Jannat (heaven) as opposed to Kim Kardashian and Beyoncé? I’m sure not. So, what gives them the divine right to serve justice they way they deem fit? Have they been Face Timing with God Almighty? Who, WHO, has appointed them as the Supreme Judge?
If the USA had a Facebook page, they’d probably post loony updates like sociopaths (a lot of them American) do before attacking unsuspecting people, ‘I’m bored…Let’s bomb a new country’! Howard Stern had said, right after 9/11 that, ‘in retaliation for 9/11, America should bomb a Muslim country, any Muslim country, it doesn’t matter which one’. Wow! Pearls of wisdom! And, let’s not even get started on the global surveillance issue!

Last week, daddy brought back a copy of The New York Times, and the first thing I noticed was that it smells different from its Indian counterparts. Yes, you read that right. Smells. Quite heady, must admit. I wonder what makes it so. Is it oil, the supply and demand of which Amreeka wants to so desperately control? Is it blood, gallons of which it has spilt across the world? Is it smoke that emanates from the thousands of places it has bombed? Is it Hollywood, dreams of which it sells so shamelessly? Is it money, that it shows off obscenely and dangles like fresh, juicy carrots at hungry, cheap Asian labour? Or, is it dirt from a third world country, unknowingly carried by the lakhs of immigrants seeking a better life? I wonder. Sigh.

Oh, and quit trying to change my S-es to Z-s! Mind your own business, and learn some English!

Malini Banerjee is a snotty single child, mountain junkie, playback singer, Austen addict, and dreams of singing alongside Buddy Guy
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