Archive for the ‘ABCD’ Category

In this series, Desis 101 will examine the pleasure Desis derive from mocking the seemingly banal habits of White People.

Let us begin with the White Man’s best friend – Fido. On the Desi’s arrival to the West, it is a shock of the highest order to find that the very same animal that they had to endure rabies shots for as a youth is now safely ensconced not only in the home of a rich and powerful citizen of the West, but is sleeping quite soundly in that citizen’s bed.

As if nocturnal love were not enough, these powerful White People wake up the next morning to the biting cold and rain to perform the daily duty of pooper-scooping Fido’s excreted insides.   The first sighting of a white man engaged in this act will send the FOB Desi into a state of panic not unlike the unveiling of the Wizard of Oz behind his curtain.  The Desi will rush home to screech at anyone who will listen – “We sacrificed everything because we were believing in the power of White People and their country, and now we are learning that they are like the people who clean the latrines back home!  He Ram, where have I come to, yaar?”

For the vegetarian Desi, the pet-loving practice is doubly ironic and hypocritical.  While the owner might be a vegetarian himself, he will feed his furry friend slain cows under the moniker ‘Puppy Chow’ while the less-fortunate puppy cousin back in India was fed left-over lentils and rice.

When the ABCD child inevitably pleads for a pet, tales of crazed white people bequeathing their most cherished possessions to Fluffy the puppy will be launched.  Any desire for a pet can only lead to other White People vices, like teen pregnancy, underage drinking, drug overdose and ultimately death.   Any attempt to deflect by promising never to write a last will and testament to the family dog is of no use.  For Desis, pets=eventual murder/suicide.

If an ABCD child wishes to ensure distance between him and his Desi parents, the best strategy is to adopt a pet. A cat will send the message that the parents are resented in some way. A dog is a clear indication of the smoldering hatred the ABCD child feels for his parents. This seemingly humanitarian (well, animalatarian) act is not to be misconstrued as kind or sweet – it is a vicious act of defiance, and a clear sign of rebellion. The only thing left to do for the ABCD is to complete the union with a white spouse and sleep together with the puppy in their bed.  This will ensure a permanent rift between parent and ABCD ingrate, while also sending a clear message about future cohabitation.  Learning of an ABCD child-pet relation, the parents will consider themselves sufficiently warned that this can only mean one thing – they will be dumped at the nearest nursing home when the time for daily care arrives.

When socializing with Desis, speaking of one’s pets more than one’s children will be met with smirky silence.  Just know that such avowals will be the subject of Desi dinner party laughter for years to come.


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There comes a point in an argument between all Desis and their ABCD children when the Desi parent will inevitably invoke the ‘only $8.00 in my pocket’ story. The point usually comes about 26 seconds after the ungrateful ABCD child has requested an iPod, a car, or $8 to go to the movies.

The Desi parent will set the scene at the airport customs gate, where they are searched head to toe to ensure that they are only entering with $8.00 in their pocket. The Desi mother, wearing a pocketless sari will have kept the $8.00 in the cleavage of her blouse along side her $2,000 in gold jewelry given to her as a dowry. Knowing that $2,000 of gold in her cleavage is not an appropriate tale to be telling a feisty teenage daughter (note Lessons #2 and 3), the mother will forgo any further details that would render the story factual.

The Desi parent will then continue to detail the hardships of life in the ghettos of the US, how they arrived in the dead of winter with no coat (no, it doesn’t matter that they immigrated to Florida), wearing only a pair of chappals (sandals) with socks and how they had never seen a western toilet and didn’t know how to flush it. The details provided and level of venom added to the most current rendering of the ‘Only $8.00 in My Pocket!’ story will vary depending on the amount of the ABCD request and the insolence with which the request was made. By the time the ungrateful ABCD child has reached the teenage years, she will have heard several thousand variations on this raga.

A few examples:

ABCD child requests $8.00 for the movies – ‘Oh Beta, it costs so much for one silly film (pronounced fi-lum). When I was your age, we would be sneaking into the theater because we weren’t affording the 3 rupee entrance fee. Do you know we came to this country with only $8.00 in our pocket? But anything for you my darling child.’ Request granted with $5 extra for popcorn.

ABCD child requests a $300 iPod – ‘$300 for what? Some stupid iPod, fiPod? Did you know (yes, the ABCD already knows) that we had no electricity in our village until 1957? There was one radio and we washed Mehulji’s car so we could listen to the cricket match on his radio. Now you want iPod. I came to this country with $8.00 in my…’ Request granted based on how silently ABCD endures the $8.00 bashing. Any word of protest or irritation can delay iPod purchase by at least one month.

ABCD child requests a car – Even the example lashing out is too lengthy to recount here. The car, having been an unattainable luxury for the Desi parent, will only be awarded after a series of increasingly passionate renditions of the $8.00 story. Walking 3 miles to school barefoot and uphill both ways, sleeping in one room with 4 siblings and 3 cows, reading by candle light on papyrus, etc. Success is usually proceeded by a breakdown where the ABCD child is willing to settle for an oxcart to get to school. After the will of the ABCD child is broken, the Desi parent will tearfully confess that they made every sacrifice to come to America so that their beloved Monu could drive a Toyota and listen to iPods. After the drama has ended, the family will pile into their Camry and see if they can find one in a matching color.

If one is witness to such an argument, it is not recommended to take sides with the ABCD child, or in any way question the details of the $8.00 story. A guaranteed way to curry favor with a Desi is to invent a similar tale about one’s parents or grandparents. Sufficient details about hardship should be noted, but one should not upstage the Desi with accounts of war, famine or genocide. Such horrors will make the Desi appear to be a sissy, leaving the Desi more irritable and ultimately undermining the position of the ABCD, thus leaving one despised by both sides.

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