Yarn it! Society

Let’s hear it for New York

What’s good for the American is not good for the Indian

IHeartNY Uncle is visiting. He opens his suitcase. “Here, my boy, IHeartNY cap for you.” He gives me the same cap every year. By now, Mummy’s bonsai and lampshades also wear IHeartNY caps, or else what to do with so many? He pulls out treasure for my other cousins: “Snickers for you and Mars for you.” I tell IHeartNY Uncle that our corner shop, too, sells Buy2KnickersGet1Free. He mutters, “This is the trouble with free trade. Free to have all things cheaper here. Devaluing brands.”

As we sit to eat, IHateFree Uncle opens the foreign liquor bottle which he gave Papa. He announces, “I only eat trans fat-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, please.” Mummy looks frantically at ILikeSomeThingsFree Uncle. Now what to do with the paneer masala floating in oil? Uncle pacifies her, “If it is olive oil, it is OK. Or even coconut oil. Now the West is adopting all things Indian, like yoga and coconut oil.” Mummy looks at my sister’s oily plaits and sends her to get the coconut oil from the bathroom to make parathas with. “Don’t worry,” Uncle says sweetly, “I can make do with quinoa.” I am sent to the corner shop to get quinoa and watercress. After checking Google Translate, the shopkeeper asks, “Why seeds and leaves? For feeding pigeons?”

When I return, they are talking politics. Uncle is saying Trump is racist. He doesn’t want immigrants. “How dare he? I too am immigrant and I am American,” IHeartImmigrant Uncle says. His son is protesting on the streets because multiculturalism and diversity and tolerance will strengthen the country. “I agree, same here,” says Papa. IHeartTolerance Uncle roars with rage. “Here? Here, we have no place for multiculturalism and diversity and tolerance. Jail those immigrants and students protesting on the streets!”

Now Uncle is in full flow, the foreign bottle is over and Papa has opened Old Monk. Uncle is shouting, “India is the greatest in the world.” I ask Uncle why he swore allegiance to America (even though swearing is not allowed at home), when he thinks India is greatest. “Because my heart is Indian,” he thumps his chest with his IHeartNY cap.

I say, “But Papa said you heart your foreign passport more and will never come back.” ILoveOldMonk Uncle points at me. “No respect! Indian children now are spoilt by western values. Schools should return to ancient times – ancient Indian values, culture.” I ask him why his son is struggling to get into those Ivy Leagues then instead of returning to study in ancient times.

Papa quickly sends me out to buy sparkling water. The fresh, pure foreign air has weakened poor Uncle’s immunity and he cannot drink our water or breathe our air without getting sick now. “It is for my IAmFromForeign Uncle,” I explain. The shopkeeper smiles, “I have Made-in-Foreign chocolates. Take these Buy2KnickersGet1Free.”

Where Jane De Suza, author of Flyaway Boy, pokes her nose into our perfect lives.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 3:15:49 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/society/lets-hear-it-for-new-york/article30879230.ece

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