That’s Racist

25 Jan

I was inspired to write this post after reading an article about the poor treatment of Canada’s Aboriginal people. You can also help provide relief for people affected by the Northern Food Crisis by clicking here.

I was born and raised in Canada and I love being Canadian. I take great pride in it despite our not-so-great sports teams and high taxes. We’re not perfect, but I love us nonetheless.

Although Canadians have a reputation for being friendly and tolerant, our great nation is not free of some seriously racist and self-entitled a-holes.

Ever notice how frequently a coloured person gets asked where they are from? Asking such a simple and seemingly harmless question reiterates the discourse of belonging and national identity that equates Canadian with Whiteness.

When I get asked the question, my response is almost always “Canada”. That’s how I feel I need to answer. To say “India” would feel like a lie because I have been there twice in my life. I have been to the Cuba more than I have been to the birthplace of my parents. But when I answer like this, the follow-up question to my response is almost always “No, but where are you really from?”

I can understand an interest in one’s culture, and I am in no way ashamed of my ancestral roots. What bothers me that “Canada” is perceived to be a more acceptable answer when the response comes from a white person when the fact of the matter is that if you’re not Aboriginal, you came to Canada from somewhere else, even if it was several generations ago.

go back.jpg_large

Racist.

 

Another thing that annoys me is when people are surprised that I not only speak English well, but that I also write well. When I changed elementary schools, my new teacher spoke to me very slowly and considered placing me in the English as a Second Language program. I was so traumatized by this that I actually believed I wasn’t speaking English properly and barely spoke in class. It wasn’t until I had to submit a writing assignment that she realized that she has misjudged me and that I was in fact, pretty fucking awesome at third grade poetry.

Racist.

 

As a teenager, I moved from Toronto to Brampton, a suburb also known as “Little India” because of the high South Asian population. One time I was waiting to cross the road when the driver of the car I was waiting to pass stopped in the middle of the road and proclaimed “You know, in Canada, we don’t just walk onto the road, we cross at crosswalks,” and sped off.

I can only assume that this gentleman had guessed that because of the way I looked and the area I was in, that I didn’t understand the way of life in Canada, and that it was his duty to clarify it to me, albeit in a condescending manner.

The problem was that I was in a residential area, right by my house. There were no crosswalks, and the nearest streetlights were about 15 minutes away. Also, I don’t think in Canada it’s encouraged to pull up to a 15 year girl and reprimand her while stopping traffic behind you.

Racist.

 

A similar experience happened when I was walking to the bus stop after school. I remember it was a very frigid day and I couldn’t wait to get home to defrost. I was bundled up in my jacket, hands shoved in my pocket, with my scarf wrapped around my ears because I had forgotten my hat. As I trekked up the slippery, frozen terrain, a car headed down the street towards me from the opposite direction. The car slowed down, the passenger side window rolled down and the teenaged passenger yelled out “Go back to India!”. I was about sixteen when that happened. I hadn’t been to India since I was 6 and I didn’t really feel like taking another trip. I should have told that kid [sarcasm] to go back across the Atlantic to England, since that’s where all white people are from [/sarcasm].

Racist.

 

Once, I was at a Wal-Mart speaking to my mom in Punjabi when a woman made a comment about how in Canada we speak English. She then started to sing the national anthem. I’m sorry, but my mother and I speak English and Punjabi; and I can also speak Spanish, and French. I know you don’t speak French because you skipped that part of the anthem, and I’m willing to bet you don’t speak any other languages. You could argue that makes us smarter than you, and dare I say more valuable to the Canadian economy.

Racist.

 

When I went to a writer’s conference in LA (okay so this one isn’t based in Canada), this happened…

Speaker: Who here is from out of town?

I raise my hand

Guy next to me: Hey where’d you come from?

Me: Toronto

Guy next to me: I see, very nice. And when did you arrive in Canada?

Me: In 1986. When I was born there.

 

Racist.

 

I took a writing class last year where my classmates and I shared pieces of our works-in-progress and critiqued each other. I shared a chapter in a story I wrote that referenced Hindi music and it was the biggest mistake I could have made.

Anytime someone starts off a comment with “I’m not an expert or anything, but…”, prepare yourself.

Basically someone said something to the effect of “I’m not an expert or anything, especially with Hindi people* but I’m not sure how realistic it is for the character’s parents to be divorced. I mean with arranged marriages, and the obligation to stay together, and what not. I mean there’s a huge cultural context there you need to keep in mind. You’re job as a writer is to keep it authentic.”

*Wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Just stop.

This caused a domino effect and the discussion quickly moved away from my writing style and the story to a discussion of the character’s religion. Which, by the way, I never mentioned. I made a quick reference to a Hindi song that would be played again during another part of the story. I was robbed of valuable critiquing time because people just couldn’t move past the fact that my character listened to Hindi music.

I was instantly self-aware of my skin colour, and the fact that I was a brown person in a room full of white people. This never mattered to me before this moment, but now it was all I could think about because I knew it was all they could see. I was furious that I had to feel that way. I wanted to shout “Okay! I get it! I’m not white! My character is not white! Let’s fucking move past this already and analyze the fucking story!”

But I didn’t say those things because the meetings took place in a Church. And I have enough sensibility and cultural awareness to recognize that cursing in a holy place is not very respectful.

Fucking Racist

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An Open Letter to Anyone that Ate my Cookies

30 Dec

Casa de Saaqshi presents:

White Chocolate & Raspberry Shortbread Pizza-Cookies.

I love pizza and I’ve never baked before so my brain got a little confused. BUT, like Pfizer discovered the unique side effects of a little hypertension drug named Viagra, I discovered this inventive masterpiece. Enjoy!

 

photo 2-2

 

Okay, so here’s what really happened:

My cookies are not perfect, by any stretch of the imagination.

At first this made me feel like an utter failure. I went in guns-a-blazing and gung-ho on an idea that I thought was sure to kill it, so ya, I was disappointed in myself. I’ve never baked before (besides pizza), so some might even think I was overzealous and deluded to think I could reinvent the wheel. Did I share this sentiment when I saw my non-cookie shaped creation? Sure. Did I let the steam of the oven evaporate my tears and the exhaust fan muffle my sobs? I’ll never admit to that.

photo 1

This mess right here broke my heart

 

Should I have practised beforehand? Maybe. But if I did, maybe I would have been too cautious and too afraid to take a risk. Maybe I would have lost the initial excitement, that spark that leads to all great ideas. Maybe I would have convinced myself not to bake at all. That, my friends, would be a greater tragedy than my cookies. Cookies that are quite possibly still raw on the inside. (I’m sure they’re fine. You can’t get food poisoning from eating uncooked flour, right?).

So I will brazenly leave these cookies here. You are not obligated to eat them. But, just know that they have every right to be here. I made a choice. A choice to walk in with my head held high and leave my pizza-cookies with the ranks of yours.

It’s moments like these that define us. I went rogue. And I don’t regret it. I don’t regret it cuz YOLO.

braveheart

Seriously though, I won’t be offended if you don’t eat them. I totally get it.

Confessions of a Ghost Writer

26 Nov
This pic has nothing to do with this post. It was just a cool show. A cool show about a ghost living in your computer that communicated via a word processor.

This pic has nothing to do with this post. It was just a cool show. A cool show about a ghost living in your computer that communicated via a word processor.

Ghost Writers are in high demand and ghost writing is a lucrative business.   Clients can ask for anything from blog posts, to essays, to full-blown novels. And people are willing to pay good money to take credit for your work.

I was a Ghost Writer for a brief period of time. Although I won’t divulge on whom I worked for or what I was asked to produce, I will say that I had a nice pocket of savings by the time I was done.

I never set out to be a Ghost Writer, it just kind of happened. People realized that I was good at writing, and that I could write about topics that I knew very little about with a little bit of research. And I could do it fast.

Eventually, conversations changed from “Hey can you help edit…” to “How much do you want to just do this for me?”. From there, the word spread and my evenings and weekends were booked.

I was on a high. I felt like I was finally winning in life and that I had a skill that was directly useable and valuable, and this was a foreign feeling for me. I was no longer that awkward Indian person that got picked last in gym class and people were surprised spoke English. I was climbing that ladder. I was a hustler and I was racking in the dough and the respect.

I was basically Jay-Z.

Basically.

Basically.

But gradually, I lost the thrill that came with hussling and being a badass. Although I felt like a genius whipping out piece after piece of stellar work, I felt a dullness in my chest. I tried to convince myself that I was not a bad person, and that all of this work was actually helping me by challenging me and making me a better writer.

BART: I thought I'd be jumping for joy the day Skinner left, but, now all I have is this weird hot feeling in the back of my head. LISA: That's guilt. You feel guilty because your stunt wound up costing a man his job. BART: Yeah, I guess it is guilt. (Close up of a spider biting the back of Bart's head.)

BART: I thought I’d be jumping for joy the day Skinner left, but, now all I have is this weird hot feeling in the back of my head.
LISA: That’s guilt. You feel guilty because your stunt wound up costing a man his job.
BART: Yeah, I guess it is guilt.
(Close up of a spider biting the back of Bart’s head.)

 

And then I got shot. Not for real, but metaphorically. I’m Jay-Z, remember? I got shot like in the 99 Problems video.

Right...there!

Right…there!

One of the first pieces I ever pimped out ended up getting published. The person I wrote it for was glowing with joy, and gave me a copy of the publication like I was Dexter and needed a trophy or something. Any millisecond of pride I felt was lost after reading my own words, months later. Reliving the flow those beautifully arranged words hurt me because it wasn’t my name under the title.

My excitement for my new found place in the world was gone and replaced with deep resentment. I wanted to scream at the top of my lungs THIS IS MY WORK, I DESERVE THE CREDIT, NOT YOU! ME ME ME! SOMEBODY HIRE ME TO WRITE AS MYSELF AND SOMEBODY CARE ABOUT WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!

After that, I tapered off the number of clients I was working for until there were none.

Ghost writing isn’t all-bad, I don’t think. Some people just don’t have the time to write, or just aren’t able to write, which is a shame because they may have something very important to say. It’s the people like this that you can really help out, if you’re looking at this business from an altruistic perspective. But then there are others who just don’t want to put in the work at all. The ones that never manage their time in order to meet a deadline, or think they can buy their way through life.

A successful Ghost Writer probably doesn’t care if their clients are in the first or second category. In the end, I just wasn’t cut out to be one of those types of people, my pride got in the way, and I was just too high up on my horse to look down.

I am an artist, damn it.

There’s a thin line between a sense of self-entitlement and knowing you can do better. Being a Ghost Writer made me see the distinction more clearly.

Yes, very much so.

Yes, very much so.

 

 

I’m writing a novel in a month. I’m an idiot.

28 Oct

I signed up for NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month. What this means is I agreed to attempt to write a novel in a month. I need to write 50,000 words to “win” Nano.

Signing up was easy, and now I am proceeding to the next logical step: freaking myself out.

I’m working on a Superhero story. I thought I had a good chunk done, and realized that I only have 3000 words.

3000/50,000 words = 6% completion.

Then I thought, ok I wrote a thesis. That was a long thesis, if I could do that, I can do this.

I nervously retrieved my thesis from my many unorganized folders.

It was only 11,000 words.

Eleven.Thousand. Words.

11,000/50,000 = 22% of the distance I have to go.

Up until the last sentence, I have written 134 words.

134/50,000 = 0.268%

Fuck.50,000

werds

49999 i got this  not crazy

Paris

13 Oct

I went to Paris this summer as part of a trip to France and Spain. This is what I found.

view of tower

The People/L’Amour

There are a lot of Arabs, Sri Lankans, and Chinese in Paris. And it’s super weird to hear them speak French. I know, I’m a racist.

People openly drink in the streets and everyone smokes. Great for my love for wine, terrible for my asthma.

wine

It’s true, the French are very amorous. They are loving people that don’t shy from public displays of affection (and then some). I don’t have pictures of this because it made my non-romantic and North American stay-out-of-my-personal-space self very uncomfortable.

Love locks on a bridge in Pont des Arts, Paris. Lovers leave these behind to symbolism their love, often tossing the key into the Seine River below. But, what happens if they break up? I didn't see anyone with pliers.

Love locks on a bridge in Pont des Arts, Paris. Lovers leave these behind to symbolism their love, often tossing the key into the Seine River below. But, what happens if they break up? I didn’t see anyone with pliers. Love Lock sites can be found around the world.

People have picnics along the Seine River and pack wine bottles and glasses for these picnics.

La Langue 

Parisians are pretty fluent in English and it’s amazing how quickly they can transition between languages. I’ve been studying French since the third grade and have taken adult level classes, and I still don’t feel comfortable speaking to a francophone. Considering French is a national language in Canada, that’s pretty disappointing. We need more exposure.

It’s endearing to hear a familiar Apple ring tone amongst the foreign chatter.

The influence of the English-speaking world is apparent is the anglo-isms

Angloisms in Pariswiz

 Architecture and History

There is so much history in Paris and the buildings are so old. It’s surprising everything wasn’t destroyed in WWII.

Paris has very quaint places, and very grand places. There’s little in-between space.

hotel

Tiny hotel room

elevator

One-person elevator

buddha

Big ass statue

Notre dame

Notre Dame Cathedral

notre dame inside

Inside Notre Dame

luxembourg

The grand Luxembourg Garden, formerly the garden adjoining the Luxembourg Palace. After the French Revolution, the Palace was transformed to the French Senate and today the public can enjoy the beauty of the garden.

 

    Replica of the Statue of Liberty that was sent to New York as a gift from France. It was designed and built by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower

Replica of the Statue of Liberty that was sent to New York as a gift from France. It was designed and built by Frederic-Auguste Bartholdi and Alexandre-Gustave Eiffel, the man behind the Eiffel Tower

towerarchitecture architecture

tombstone

Napoleon’s tomb at Les Invalides, the military museum of France.

gravetop of invalides

d'orsay

Orsay Museum. Shh, you’re not supposed to take pictures.

louvre

Area outside of the Louvre.

street view

L’Art

gold man

accordian

Accordion player performing on the Archbishop’s Bridge crossing the Seine River

Art store

One of many book stores spotted in Paris

One of many book stores spotted in Paris

statue art

Fashion

Black is the new black in Paris. Colour is less common but not unseen. Accessorize with scarves and hats, and hold your head up high for you are fabulous.

paris fashion

Finding my inner Chanel

police

Only the French can make a uniformed man sexier. Drool.

my french fashion

I’m like 30% model

fashion vspa

Pop of colour on a vespa.

Food and Wine

I have to admit, I was not a fan of French food, it is far too indulgent for me. There’s only so much foie gras and cheese I can eat. However, what I skipped in solid sustenance, I made up in liquid luxury.

Brunch was my favourite time of the day

Brunch was my favourite time of the day

rich food

wine 2

cheers

Cheers

 

The Metro

metro

No, I didn’t get robbed on the metro (phew).

graffiti

Graffiti outside of the subway appears to be universal

 

 

Fin.

Thoughts on a Plane: YYZ to YVR

29 Sep

This past year and a half, I’ve done a lot of travelling. And second only to the toilet, an airplane is a great place to have deep and profound thoughts. Ladies and gentleman, may I present, Thoughts on a Plane

YVR

YVR

I should get really good at poker

I should watch Archer.

I should colour my hair. Go lighter. Cuz YOLO. And danger zone.

I should stop eating so many cookies and muffins. Ugh, I’m so fat. It’s gonna be like so hard to lose 5 lbs.

When I get off this plane I’m totes doing some lunges and pushups. Yep. Gonna do me some ‘shups.

You know how when you don’t want to be picked up and then you just make yourself super heavy? How do you do that? How do you make yourself heavy, and then make yourself light again? HOW ARE YOU CHANGING THE WEIGHT OF AN OBJECT WITHOUT CHANGING THE OBJECT ITSELF? OR IS THE OBJECT ACTUALLY CHANGING? OMG I’M FREAKING OUT RIGHT NOW…

..You probably just contract your muscles or something. Whatever, I’m over it.

This is the worst coffee I’ve ever had *barfing noise*

*Resumes drinking coffee*

That’s a cool cloud.

OMG I’m having heart palpitations, I need to stop looking out this window.

If I was ejected from the plane, I would use my sweater as a parachute. I could possibly survive. DANGER ZONE!

It is so freaking cold in here! You know what they should invent? A shower that people go into when they’re cold. But instead of it spitting out hot water, it would spit out hot air that would feel like water. But it’s not water, it’s air. Hot air. That would be so good for the environment. Vancouver is so inspiring with all of their environmental friendliness.

I should probably study for my French exam. Merde!

*Nap*

Wait. Isn’t an air shower just a heater? Fuck.

Thoughts on a Plane: YYZ to LAX

14 Sep

This past year and a half, I’ve done a lot of travelling. And second only to the toilet, an airplane is a great place to have deep and profound thoughts. Ladies and gentleman, may I present, Thoughts on a Plane

US-CRIME-SHOOTING-AIRPORT

I can’t believe I’m going to a writer’s conference.

Did I pack enough underwear?

I’m about to watch this film about Coco Chanel in French because I’m so pretentious and want to practice French for when I go to Paris in two weeks. Ugh, I’m so refined.

Never mind, they’re totes speaking English. It’s ok still refined.

Ok some is in French. I think. I don’t really understand what they’re saying. Shit, I don’t speak French.

Ooo radio. I’m gonna listen to some classical. Gosh, what’s wrong with me? Why am I being such a hipster?

Ahhh never mind classical makes me feel like I’m in a horror movie!

Okay, bye, taking a nap.

Fin.