[Assam] My Own Private India - Joel Stein, Time Magazine

Chan Mahanta cmahanta at gmail.com
Mon Jul 19 07:48:27 PDT 2010


Xactly what I say.





On Jul 19, 2010, at 9:46 AM, Ram Sarangapani wrote:

>> *** That the truth hurts :-)!
>
> That's vague, specially to someone like me, and this early in the  
> AM. :-)
> What exactly do you mean by the one liner?
>
> --Ram
>
>
>
>
> On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 9:42 AM, Chan Mahanta <cmahanta at gmail.com>  
> wrote:
>
>>> Now, what do you think, C'da?
>>
>>
>> *** That the truth hurts :-)!
>>
>>
>>
>>
>> On Jul 19, 2010, at 9:36 AM, Ram Sarangapani wrote:
>>
>> What was yoiur view Ram?
>>>>
>>>
>>> hehehe! not that it matters much.... but I kind of like what  Parikh
>>> writes.
>>> Stein, like many WASPs in the US think their cosy, secure clubs  
>>> are being
>>> ruined by 'lesser people'.
>>>
>>>
>>> "Then, in the 1980s, the doctors and engineers brought over their  
>>> merchant
>>> cousins, and we were no longer so sure about the genius thing. In  
>>> the
>>> 1990s,
>>> the not-as-brilliant merchants brought their even-less-bright  
>>> cousins, and
>>> we started to understand why India is so damn poor."
>>> - Joel Stein
>>>
>>> Now, that's a gem ..........
>>>
>>> Now, what do you think, C'da?
>>>
>>> --Ram
>>>
>>>
>>>
>>> On Mon, Jul 19, 2010 at 8:37 AM, Chan Mahanta <cmahanta at gmail.com>  
>>> wrote:
>>>
>>>
>>>> What was yoiur view Ram?
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>>
>>>> On Jul 19, 2010, at 7:59 AM, Ram Sarangapani wrote:
>>>>
>>>> This column, has taken a lot of heat from NRIs. Both the author  
>>>> and Time
>>>>
>>>>> have apologized.
>>>>> Below is also a stern rebuttal by Rahul Parikh, a physician,  
>>>>> from San
>>>>> Francisco
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> ____________________________
>>>>> http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html
>>>>>
>>>>> http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/07/13/parikh.stein.rebuttal/index.html
>>>>>
>>>>> Monday, Jul. 05, 2010
>>>>> My Own Private India
>>>>> By Joel Stein
>>>>>
>>>>> Statement Appended: July 2, 2010
>>>>>
>>>>> I am very much in favor of immigration everywhere in the U.S.  
>>>>> except
>>>>> Edison,
>>>>> N.J. The mostly white suburban town I left when I graduated from  
>>>>> high
>>>>> school
>>>>> in 1989 — the town that was called Menlo Park when Thomas Alva  
>>>>> Edison
>>>>> set
>>>>> up
>>>>> shop there and was later renamed in his honor — has become home  
>>>>> to one
>>>>> of
>>>>> the biggest Indian communities in the U.S., as familiar to  
>>>>> people in
>>>>> India
>>>>> as how to instruct stupid Americans to reboot their Internet  
>>>>> routers.
>>>>>
>>>>> My town is totally unfamiliar to me. The Pizza Hut where my busboy
>>>>> friends
>>>>> stole pies for our drunken parties is now an Indian sweets shop  
>>>>> with a
>>>>> completely inappropriate roof. The A&P I shoplifted from is now an
>>>>> Indian
>>>>> grocery. The multiplex where we snuck into R-rated movies now  
>>>>> shows only
>>>>> Bollywood films and serves samosas. The Italian restaurant that my
>>>>> friends
>>>>> stole cash from as waiters is now Moghul, one of the most famous  
>>>>> Indian
>>>>> restaurants in the country. There is an entire generation of white
>>>>> children
>>>>> in Edison who have nowhere to learn crime. (See pictures of Thomas
>>>>> Edison's
>>>>> Menlo Park.) <
>>>>> http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1999191,00.html>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a  
>>>>> random town
>>>>> in
>>>>> New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that  
>>>>> got made
>>>>> fun
>>>>> of by all the other Indian states and didn't want to give up that
>>>>> feeling?
>>>>> Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep  
>>>>> numbering our
>>>>> parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?
>>>>>
>>>>> I called James W. Hughes, policy-school dean at Rutgers  
>>>>> University, who
>>>>> explained that Lyndon Johnson's 1965 immigration law raised  
>>>>> immigration
>>>>> caps
>>>>> for non-European countries. LBJ apparently had some weird  
>>>>> relationship
>>>>> with
>>>>> Asians in which he liked both inviting them over and going over  
>>>>> to Asia
>>>>> to
>>>>> kill them.
>>>>>
>>>>> After the law passed, when I was a kid, a few engineers and  
>>>>> doctors from
>>>>> Gujarat moved to Edison because of its proximity to AT&T, good  
>>>>> schools
>>>>> and
>>>>> reasonably priced, if slightly deteriorating, post–WW II  
>>>>> housing. For a
>>>>> while, we assumed all Indians were geniuses. Then, in the 1980s,  
>>>>> the
>>>>> doctors
>>>>> and engineers brought over their merchant cousins, and we were  
>>>>> no longer
>>>>> so
>>>>> sure about the genius thing. In the 1990s, the not-as-brilliant
>>>>> merchants
>>>>> brought their even-less-bright cousins, and we started to  
>>>>> understand why
>>>>> India is so damn poor.
>>>>>
>>>>> Eventually, there were enough Indians in Edison to change the  
>>>>> culture.
>>>>> At
>>>>> which point my townsfolk started calling the new Edisonians "dot  
>>>>> heads."
>>>>> One
>>>>> kid I knew in high school drove down an Indian-dense street  
>>>>> yelling for
>>>>> its
>>>>> residents to "go home to India." In retrospect, I question just  
>>>>> how good
>>>>> our
>>>>> schools were if "dot heads" was the best racist insult we could  
>>>>> come up
>>>>> with
>>>>> for a group of people whose gods have multiple arms and an  
>>>>> elephant
>>>>> nose.
>>>>> (See
>>>>> TIME's special report "The Making of America: Thomas
>>>>> Edison.")<
>>>>> http://www.time.com/time/specials/packages/ 
>>>>> 0,28757,1999143,00.html>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Unlike some of my friends in the 1980s, I liked a lot of things  
>>>>> about
>>>>> the
>>>>> way my town changed: far better restaurants, friends dorky  
>>>>> enough to
>>>>> play
>>>>> Dungeons & Dragons with me, restaurant owners who didn't card us  
>>>>> because
>>>>> all
>>>>> white people look old. But sometime after I left, the town  
>>>>> became a maze
>>>>> of
>>>>> charmless Indian strip malls and housing developments. Whenever  
>>>>> I go
>>>>> back,
>>>>> I
>>>>> feel what people in Arizona talk about: a sense of loss and  
>>>>> anomie and
>>>>> disbelief that anyone can eat food that spicy.
>>>>>
>>>>> To figure out why it bothered me so much, I talked to a friend  
>>>>> of mine
>>>>> from
>>>>> high school, Jun Choi, who just finished a term as mayor of  
>>>>> Edison. Choi
>>>>> said that part of what I don't like about the new Edison is the
>>>>> reduction
>>>>> of
>>>>> wealth, which probably would have been worse without the arrival  
>>>>> of so
>>>>> many
>>>>> Indians, many of whom, fittingly for a town called Edison, are  
>>>>> inventors
>>>>> and
>>>>> engineers. And no place is immune to change. In the 11 years I  
>>>>> lived in
>>>>> Manhattan's Chelsea district, that area transformed from a place  
>>>>> with
>>>>> gangs
>>>>> and hookers to a place with gays and transvestite hookers to a  
>>>>> place
>>>>> with
>>>>> artists and no hookers to a place with rich families and, I'm  
>>>>> guessing,
>>>>> mistresses who live a lot like hookers. As Choi pointed out, I  
>>>>> was a
>>>>> participant in at least one of those changes. We left it at that.
>>>>>
>>>>> Unlike previous waves of immigrants, who couldn't fly home or  
>>>>> Skype with
>>>>> relatives, Edison's first Indian generation didn't quickly  
>>>>> assimilate
>>>>> (and
>>>>> give their kids Western names). But if you look at the current  
>>>>> Facebook
>>>>> photos of students at my old high school, J.P. Stevens, which  
>>>>> would be
>>>>> very
>>>>> creepy of you, you'll see that, while the population seems at  
>>>>> least half
>>>>> Indian, a lot of them look like the Italian Guidos I grew up  
>>>>> with in the
>>>>> 1980s: gold chains, gelled hair, unbuttoned shirts. In fact,  
>>>>> they are
>>>>> called
>>>>> Guindians. Their assimilation is so wonderfully American that if  
>>>>> the
>>>>> Statue
>>>>> of Liberty could shed a tear, she would. Because of the amount of
>>>>> cologne
>>>>> they wear.
>>>>>
>>>>> See TIME's Pictures of the Week.<
>>>>> http://www.time.com/time/picturesoftheweek>
>>>>>
>>>>> See the Cartoons of the Week. <
>>>>> http://www.time.com/time/cartoonsoftheweek
>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>>>
>>>>> *TIME responds:** We sincerely regret that any of our readers  
>>>>> were upset
>>>>> by
>>>>>
>>>>> this humor column of Joel Stein's. It was in no way intended to  
>>>>> cause
>>>>> offense. *
>>>>>
>>>>> *Joel Stein responds:** I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so  
>>>>> many
>>>>> people. I was trying to explain how, as someone who believes that
>>>>> immigration has enriched American life and my hometown in  
>>>>> particular, I
>>>>> was
>>>>> shocked that I could feel a tiny bit uncomfortable with my  
>>>>> changing town
>>>>> when I went to visit it. If we could understand that reaction,  
>>>>> we'd be
>>>>> better equipped to debate people on the other side of the  
>>>>> immigration
>>>>> issue.
>>>>> *
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Column vilified, insulted Indian Americans
>>>>> By *Rahul Parikh*, Special to CNN
>>>>> *STORY HIGHLIGHTS*
>>>>>
>>>>> - Rahul Parikh takes issue with Joel Stein's column about Indian
>>>>> Americans in his hometown
>>>>> - Essay was meant to be satire, but Parikh found it a  
>>>>> xenophobic, racist
>>>>> rant
>>>>> - Parikh says writer distilled ancient and diverse culture into  
>>>>> clichés
>>>>> and stereotypes
>>>>> - Says the piece reminded him ignorance about and fear of new  
>>>>> people
>>>>> still exist in U.S.
>>>>>
>>>>> *Editor's note:Rahul K. Parikh <http://www.rahulkparikh.com/> is a
>>>>> physician
>>>>>
>>>>> and writer who lives in the San Francisco Bay Area. Follow him on
>>>>> Twitter<http://twitter.com/docrkp>.
>>>>> *
>>>>>
>>>>> *(CNN)* -- Dear Joel Stein,
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Where do I begin? Normally, I write about health care, but your  
>>>>> essay in
>>>>> Time, "My Own Private India," caught my attention for reasons  
>>>>> that have
>>>>> nothing to do with medicine. Before I read it, I barely had any  
>>>>> idea who
>>>>> you
>>>>> were. Your name was vaguely familiar, probably from having seen  
>>>>> you on
>>>>> VH1
>>>>> while channel-surfing in the wee hours.
>>>>>
>>>>> I'm not the only one who noticed. Last I checked, your essay was  
>>>>> one of
>>>>> the
>>>>> most read and e-mailed articles at Time.com. Good work. You  
>>>>> earned your
>>>>> paycheck. But you did it with a xenophobic, even racist, rant  
>>>>> against
>>>>> Indian
>>>>> Americans like me and a lot of other people I care about and  
>>>>> deeply
>>>>> respect.
>>>>>
>>>>> Read Joel Stein's essay, "My Own Private
>>>>> India"<http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1999416,00.html
>>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> Have no illusions, sir. What you wrote was not funny,  
>>>>> insightful, smart
>>>>> or
>>>>> unique. No. Every word, phrase, sentence and paragraph you  
>>>>> produced did
>>>>> nothing more than distill the ancient, proud and diverse culture  
>>>>> of
>>>>> India<http://topics.cnn.com/topics/india>down to nothing more than
>>>>>
>>>>> clichés and stereotypes.
>>>>>
>>>>> Calling us dot-heads and Guindians, speaking of spicy food and
>>>>> multilimbed
>>>>> gods with elephant noses -- clarification, Joel: Ganesh has the  
>>>>> elephant
>>>>> nose; Siva has the multiple arms. You did it even when you were  
>>>>> laying
>>>>> on
>>>>> the backhanded compliments. "We all assumed Indians were  
>>>>> geniuses."
>>>>> Thanks
>>>>> for that.
>>>>>
>>>>> By the way, I am not some bitter old man trying to lecture you.  
>>>>> You and
>>>>> I
>>>>> are contemporaries. I'm just a year younger than you are.
>>>>>
>>>>> In reading a little bit about you, we have some things in  
>>>>> common. I was
>>>>> "dorky enough" to have played Dungeons & Dragons growing up.  
>>>>> Given your
>>>>> esteemed education at Stanford, I suspect both of us excelled
>>>>> academically.
>>>>>
>>>>> But it's clear that our consciences have been on divergent  
>>>>> paths. I try
>>>>> to
>>>>> do just a little bit of good in the world by practicing medicine  
>>>>> and
>>>>> writing. You took your pricey education and became ... a  
>>>>> humorist ... a
>>>>> satirist ... a pundit? A descendant of Mark
>>>>> Twain<http://topics.cnn.com/topics/mark_twain>,
>>>>>
>>>>> H.L Mencken or P.J. O' Rourke you are not. In the future, please  
>>>>> leave
>>>>> satire and humor to trained professionals.
>>>>>
>>>>> So ... because you weren't funny or incisive, what's your point?  
>>>>> Are you
>>>>> trying to make Indians prove our worth to the fraternity that is
>>>>> America?
>>>>> Is
>>>>> your essay part of some kind of hazing? Put up with your callous
>>>>> insults,
>>>>> and we'll be able to live in the frat house?
>>>>>
>>>>> What litmus test do we all have to pass to become bona fide?  
>>>>> Does our
>>>>> God
>>>>> have to wear a big white beard and have only two arms? Do we  
>>>>> have to
>>>>> turn
>>>>> in
>>>>> the dots on our foreheads for a baseball cap with "N.Y."  
>>>>> stenciled on
>>>>> it?
>>>>> Trade in our samosas and chai for potato chips and Bud Light?  
>>>>> Should we
>>>>> make
>>>>> our parents throw their Hindi language newsmagazine in the  
>>>>> garbage and
>>>>> subscribe to Time?
>>>>>
>>>>> If it's about fitting in with your standards of Americana,  
>>>>> please, allow
>>>>> me
>>>>> to prove my culture's utility to you.
>>>>>
>>>>> Some of us have become wildly successful. We run Fortune 500  
>>>>> companies,
>>>>> have
>>>>> been elected to political office and have won Pulitzer
>>>>> prizes<http://topics.cnn.com/topics/pulitzer_prize_committee>.
>>>>>
>>>>> Many of us work 40-plus hours a week to pay our mortgage. Some  
>>>>> have paid
>>>>> their dues serving this country in war. Still others struggle to  
>>>>> pay the
>>>>> bills, keep their children fed or their marriages together; and  
>>>>> yes,
>>>>> there
>>>>> are those of us who are criminals locked up in jail. In other  
>>>>> words,
>>>>> we're
>>>>> just like everyone else.
>>>>>
>>>>> It's obvious that you were waxing nostalgic about your hometown.  
>>>>> If I
>>>>> follow
>>>>> your logic here, should nothing ever change in America?
>>>>>
>>>>> Should moms stay at home while we men wear our suits and ties  
>>>>> and head
>>>>> off
>>>>> to work, cigarette in hand? Should African-Americans still drink  
>>>>> from a
>>>>> different water fountain from you? Should we revoke the right of  
>>>>> women
>>>>> to
>>>>> vote?
>>>>>
>>>>> If that's the case, I've got a Delorean with a flux capacitor  
>>>>> I'd be
>>>>> happy
>>>>> to sell you to get "Back to the Future."
>>>>>
>>>>> I also read the apology you pinned to the bottom of the online  
>>>>> version
>>>>> of
>>>>> your essay.
>>>>>
>>>>> "I truly feel stomach-sick that I hurt so many people. I was  
>>>>> trying to
>>>>> explain how, as someone who believes that immigration has enriched
>>>>> American
>>>>> life and my hometown in particular, I was shocked that I could  
>>>>> feel a
>>>>> tiny
>>>>> bit uncomfortable with my changing town when I went to visit it.  
>>>>> If we
>>>>> could
>>>>> understand that reaction, we'd be better equipped to debate  
>>>>> people on
>>>>> the
>>>>> other side of the immigration
>>>>> <http://topics.cnn.com/topics/immigration>issue," you wrote.
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>> "Tiny bit uncomfortable," indeed. You should have stopped with  
>>>>> "I'm
>>>>> sorry"
>>>>> or just retracted the whole article. Stop trying to save face by  
>>>>> trying
>>>>> to
>>>>> rationalize what you wrote or pin it to the immigration issue.
>>>>>
>>>>> Finally, I do want to thank you for harshly reminding of one  
>>>>> thing:
>>>>> Because
>>>>> the essay was published just before the Fourth of July -- and
>>>>> incidentally,
>>>>> just a few weeks before India's own independence day -- you and  
>>>>> your
>>>>> publication reminded me with no uncertainty that
>>>>> racism<http://topics.cnn.com/topics/racism_and_bigotry>,
>>>>>
>>>>> ignorance and fear of new people are as American as apple pie  
>>>>> and Time
>>>>> magazine.
>>>>>
>>>>> Like you said, the Statue of Liberty should shed a tear. And  
>>>>> Mahatma
>>>>> Gandhi
>>>>> just did.
>>>>>
>>>>> *(Time Warner Inc. is the parent company of CNN.com and Time  
>>>>> magazine.)*
>>>>>
>>>>> *The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of  
>>>>> Rahul
>>>>> Parikh.
>>>>> *
>>>>>
>>>>> Find this article at:
>>>>> http://www.cnn.com/2010/OPINION/07/13/parikh.stein.rebuttal/index.html
>>>>> _______________________________________________
>>>>> assam mailing list
>>>>> assam at assamnet.org
>>>>> http://assamnet.org/mailman/listinfo/assam_assamnet.org
>>>>>
>>>>>
>>>>
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>>
>>
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