Middle Eastern? Who? ….What?
Random title I know. Ok, so this has been bothering me since last week, when Kris and I hooked up for dinner with one of her cousins. Cool guy, he’s known me for close to 12 years or so. We’re not super-close mind you, but we dig hanging out together and we’re family now. He was describing some Middle Eastern reastaurant on Haight Street. Hookahs, belly dancing…the whole 9 yards. Couldn’t remember the name and said, “Well it’s the only Indian place down there.” That’s when it hit me. It seemed natural to him to interchange Middle Eastern and Indian.
Sure I’ll admit I was offended a bit. Much respect to Middle Eastern people, but they would be offended a little if someone said they were Indian. It’s like if I decided to insist my cousin was Japanese when infact he is Chinese. After I corrected him in this manner, I could say from his look that he was confused. I destroyed some of his assumptions.
I was disturbed on 2 levels. First, we Indians are South Asian. India is not in the Middle East. We’ve got a whole freaking “sub-continent”. Second, for the last 12 years, he’s probably believed that I personally, was Middle Eastern. Didn’t even know that I am a Hindu. That my mother tongue is Bengali. That culturally Indian and Arabic culture have very little overlap. The little details that you’d think family would know. I guess I’m still a little bitter about it. Oh well, I’ll get over it. He’s a great guy and there’s no love lost. We’ll get it straightened out.