Yesterday night, hubby’s colleague came over for dinner.
‘Danny (name changed) is an American,’ hubby told me the day before. ‘He’s from Texas.’
‘Texas?’ I repeated excitedly. Immediately the image of a Texan cowboy jumped into my mind. A 6-ft-2″ Texan cowboy, smoking a Marlboro, wearing long leather boots, looking down at me from his horse and drawling, ‘How y’all doing?’
‘Danny’s black,’ hubby informed me soberly. ‘No, actually he’s African-American,’ he corrected hastily, memories of stringent corporate training no doubt coming back to him.
‘Oh!’ I exclaimed even more happily, as the vision in my mind imploded and another one replaced it immediately. ‘Is he a 6-foot-5″, hip and cool, awesome athletic basketball player type?’
Turns out Danny is a soft-spoken, mild-mannered, devoted family man. And he speaks with almost no accent, forget a drawl. And is a complete tee-totaller.
What’s more he’s not even 6-feet-tall, his frame is slightly smaller than my 5 feet-10″ hubby’s. Which explains why most of the food that I had cooked for Micheal Jordan was left over.
What Danny is, is intelligent, charming, well-travelled and effusive, very much like my born-and-brought-up in Chandigarh Hubby.
In short they are both modern men (hubby will kill me if I call him a ‘metrosexual’) and they are the same whether they are from Texas, or Tokyo or Trafalgar Square or Thane (running of T’s now)
A while ago I had written a post on stereotypes illustrating how, despite priding ourselves on having a ‘cosmopolitan’ outlook, we tend to make snap judgements on people based on where they are from . Try as we might, somewhere in our minds, Bengalis=condescending and cutured, Delhiites=Stylish and brash, Parsis= intelligent and absent minded, French= Bongs of the world, Americans= Outspoken, ambitious and screwed-up etc etc. And while these stereotypes definitely stretch reality to a large extent, there is a grain of truth behind them.
People like Danny are changing the rules of the game. They are stretching the truth to the point where it snaps and all the groups fall down into a homogenous confusion. And there are more and more people like Danny now. Many of my Bong friends have never read Tagore, but are fanatic Harry Potter fans, my Punju cousins can’t understand Punjabi but can do bhangra-hip-hop, I even recently met a French guy who works 18-hour-days for an investment bank. And he hates cheese.
In the over-connected world we have not been brought up by our Texan/Punju/Tamilian parents, but by Apple, Pixar and Wikipedia. And that’s the same, no matter where we are. The truth is that aren’t Punjus, Tamilians, Texans, French or even Indian anymore. We are just modern youth (Will kill anyone who suggests middle-aged).
Don’t get me wrong- I am all for destruction of prejudice and propogation of equal opportunity.
I just wish there was a way that equality didn’t lead to uniformity. At best, it takes the fun out of travel and discovery. The world is a global village.
At worst, it sends shudders of Pink Floyd and we-dont-need-no-education down my spine. Globalisation and IT is inadvertenly creating the uniform, robotic ‘1984’ society that we have always dreaded. What’s worse is that we have gone to far to stop now.
And that just makes me sad.