Travails of the Fresh off the Boat (FOB) Desi
Long has the desi FOB been the butt of 7-11, Gandhi, Apu and Quickie Mart and horrendous accent jokes. Needless to say, most of them, ahem, are true. From the minute the unsuspecting desi FOB walks into Burger King and places an order for well, ’One Burger King Please’, his days in “Amreeka” are doomed forever as hilarious punch lines or the sad caricature that he is made out to be.
Most hilarious amongst the FOB lore is the one where he walks into McDonalds and demands a large ‘COCK’, with no ice, to wash down his meal of veggie burger and fries. Imagine the consternation of the 6’2” 300 lbs black dude behind the counter who can only roll his eyes and mouth a loud ‘Say WHAT now ???’. Poor Vadapatamudumbi Ramajulu Balamuran can only cower while retorting “I mean the trink (drink), I mean the trink”. Maybe some of us desi bandhu should stick to ingesting only Sprite, Pebhsi or Waatter, since pronouncing COKE can sometimes come uncomfortably close to being enrolled for a Richard Simmons class.
Imagine my consternation when on a flight from Bombay to Chicago, I open the door to the loo, only to find Maniben Kantilal Patel perched precariously “on top” of the toilet bowl, with her hands pressed against the toilet walls, and a deer-in-the-headlights look, taking care of business in the age-old desi ishtyle “paikhana” fashion. To this day, I don’t quite remember who was screaming more, as I fled closing the toilet door behind me.
Most Walmarts and K-Marts (well Sears essentials now) are just hubs of wall-to-wall desis, each one trying to get the next best “deeeal”, the $25 DVD player or the $1.25 near expiry tub of yogurt. God forbid should one of them ask a passing store employee “Aarey , bhot is rhibbed (ribbed)?”, while checking out the Trojans, and the store employee mistakes you to be the one who asked that question. There are a few other desis, of the desperate kind, who try and ensnare poor unsuspecting victims to lure them the dark side i.e. Amway or Quickstar or whatever avaricious moniker it goes by now. You can spot these kinds a mile away, with their surreptitious nods and permanently fixed smiles at fellow shoppers and unsuspecting recruits. Be warned, these kinds will charm you into parting with your first born to them.
Every once in a while you come across the ever dutiful husband in the ‘Feminine Hygiene’ aisle of the supermarket yelling into his cell phone for all and sundry to hear him scream, ‘So what size of sanitary napkins should I buy ? I will get the extra large or the one with wings no. These are $2 off this week no. Anyway these month there is heavy mensus (whatever that means) no ?. So I will buy the large one no ? OK no ?’. Yeah, it really happens, trust me.
Actually all ribbing aside the desi community in
And more and more desi brothers are getting into sports these days not wanting to give up the generous dollops of desi ghee on their parathas, uttapams, theplas or chapattis. So they show up at the local YMCA basketball courts all across the country, usually wearing two pair of shorts, the outer shorts slipping well below the inner shorts, not to be outdone in hipness by the “kallus” on the courts. And of course, with the obligatory hat turned backward to complete the cool, with-it, desi image. Now for the ball handling skills, that’s a story in itself for another day. The affluent or pseudo affluent ones can be found on the golf courses too, knocking many a serious golfers over with the golf balls since who would possibly understand some git yelling “Phore”, “Phore” on the seventh hole. At the local gyms all the 5-15 pound dumbbells have been monopolized by the desis, building up those biceps and triceps alone you see, with scant regard to the protruding rotund belly. And you can be sure as hell that the chap who takes the longest time in the shower, using up all that free shampoo, and walking out clasping the towel around his waist like the impregnable chastity belt, is our very own Balu or Ghanshyam , Tiwari or Pedulu Vishwesharayya Kottaswami. I’ll bet my entire paycheck on it.
But all jesting aside at the end of the day which community, collectively, which minority has the most moolah locked up in CD’s, mutual funds, and kids away at Yale, MIT and Harvard, mortgage all paid off and propensity to go after the next big things that’s out there ? It’s the desi bandhu, yaar. So to preserve this facet of our lives, if we have to trade-off the obligatory rare Apu jokes, envious stabs at curry smells and accent bashing, then I’d say so be it. We have our motels to run, patient’s to attend to, businesses to fix and lines of code to parse. If all the desi bashing does get to you sometimes, my only advice would be ‘Jaane bhi do yaaron. Ab Dil pe maat le yaar. This too shall pass.’.
PS: All names used above are fictitious. Any resemblance to anybody, living or dead, is purely, er, cultural.