Category Archives: Jeremy

Let’s talk about race for a minute, shall we?


I have this one friend. I’m not really saying who he is, but we can call him ‘Jeremy’ and assume that he is living and working in Pakistan at the moment.

The reason I’m talking about ‘Jeremy’ is because he has this thing where he cuts me off with a sarcastic ‘yawn‘ every time I start heading towards a great big rant/philosophizing/update on anything race related.

And so I am dedicating this post to him. (‘Jeremy’, as it turns out, is also working through his racial angst and you can read all about that here)

Obviously, living in Europe has exposed me to racial issues that I never even dreamed of.  For example, I haven’t adjusted to the fact that people look at me and see a black girl. And this produces a range of reactions that I’m going to broadly stereotype and make assumptions that may or not be correct. (See what I’m doing here?)

And so here is my list of racists:

The Awkward ones

TAO: So where do you come from?

Me: Kenya

TAO: OOOOOOHHH, K-E-N-I-A?? (In that really slow, loud voice most people use when talking to deaf people.)

Me: Uuuum…yeah

TAO: Well, I’ve never been to Africa. Followed by awkward silence/vague references to safaris and the joys and simplicities of the warm African spirit.

Well good for you.

The Openly Hostile

There is once I was waiting by the bus stop for one very very unreliable friend. Since I rarely make any attempt to look feminine, I was casually leaning against the wall, smoking a cigarette and wearing my most badass-dont-mess-with-me face. Then this little f*ck gets off the bus and starts shooting me dirty looks while furiously going through his pockets looking for his phone. He breaks into a half jog, all the while throwing glances back at me and fumbling with his phone/potentially deadly weapon/army knife/I don’t know. I got irritated and asked him, ‘What? What are you looking at?’, followed by ‘keep walking, the hell?’. He crossed the road in his frantic state and disappeared into the night.

I was baffled. I mean, how scary can one 1.65 female really be? My naive mind still has no explanation for that little sh*t’s actions.

Thankfully, the hostile ones are mostly limited to feeble geriatrics eyeballing you on the train as they wish for the good old days when darkies knew their place and Europe was the center of the world. Well…sorry grandma, shit happens. And by shit I mean your neighbourhood will continue to be overun by good for nothing immigrants, k?

The Clueless

These ones are almost always exclusively socially awkward Asians, and for some strange reason, the Turkish. I guess because they have no embarassing history with Africa and since negroes rarely head out that far, they have a child like curiosity about black people. So I can be sitting with a group of people and suddenly feel a hand tentatively touching  my hair.

Or deal with conversational nuclear bombs such as:

I think black people have good eyesight because instead of reading, they go hunting.

Leaving everyone slightly uncomfortable.

The ones who don’t quite know what to do

Apparently we stereotype because our minds simply can’t pause to analyze every single thing in great detail else we would be unable to function.

Add on to the fact that everyone wants to appear politically correct and liberal, and sometimes the two just don’t go together. This was especially clear when I was looking for a place to stay. So I’d make a call in my rudimentary French and set up an appointment to view the flat.

And then…

A black girl shows up. Landlord tries desperately hard to be polite and beat his prejudices.  But the pauses are too long and the atmosphere too strained.

Needless to say, a polite rejection comes in a couple of days later. Oh, how civilized.

Jungle Fever

This is my best and worst category. The worst is when I meet drunk old women in bars where their granddaughters hang out, and get cornered into a spitfest about how she ‘prefers black people’ and ‘is/was married to a black guy’ and how much her wobbly wrinkly ass loves Mandingo…or the nastly little old men who think they can grab my ass.

The best is when the boys from behind the iron curtain drool all over the sisters. Or as my Greek friend put it

I have never been with a coloured girl, but I want to try. It’s like the french say, taste a little bit of everything.

Well, my brother, keep the drinks coming and be honest about your motivations and you are good with me!

The ones who think they are funny

And, of course, fielding comments and ‘jokes’ from friends. For example, I was chatting with a gentleman working in our building. Banter, teasing, that sort of thing. When…

Your accent is terrible. I can’t understand what you are saying!

Now, this coming from a former Eastern bloc brother who can’t tell the difference between v and w and missing half of the English vocabulary…..

I would be expected to get angry.

What? Me? I have an accent? I speak perfect English! YOU have an accent.

And then storm off in a huff.

But Trevor says it best:

Instead, a nice, back handed sarcastic comment earned me not so cheap 3d tickets to Tintin.

Lemons into lemonade, boys and girls.

No need trippin’ over fools.

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Guest Post: The Karachi I Know


Karachi is the economic hub of Pakistan. Whoever controls Karachi controls Pakistan, they say. Karachi has 18 million people, that’s 6 times Nairobi, and 10% of the whole Pakistani population.

ECONOMICALLY

Karachi is in a 3rd world country. So expect the gap between the rich and the poor to be colossal. You see extremes here; mansions (they are all very square), and people peeing and sleeping on the road cause they have no homes.(the men pee when squatting, if you ask me it looks very disgusting) If Idi Amin was hired to get rid of the beggars in Karachi, the Nile would be clogged for life.

SECURITY

Living in Karachi, you don’t have to be too concerned about terrorism as defined by the media(ALAR WAKBAR SUICIDE BOMBER). Just be afraid that political violence leaves hundreds of people dead within 3 days. Karachi is controlled by MQM. I still can’t spell what it stands for (too complicated, and I wont google it). The party in power is the PPP (Pakistanis Peoples Party). These 2 are always fighting. One guy from PPP says something bad about MQM, like you guys have itchy scrotums’ and MQM respond by calling for a ‘strike’.

A strike means gunfights between PPP and MQM, hundreds of dead grassroot politicians, scores of innocent people dead (I am afraid to say hundreds), a couple of people kidnapped in the melee, millions of rupees lost because companies stay closed, the working class of Karachi celebrating that they get a holiday, me bored stiff in the flat and the PPP apologizing.

SOCIAL LIFE

There are 4things to do in Karachi, smoke, smoke sheesha/ hashish, shop and eat. There are no clubs, few people play sports, and yes I said there are NO clubs. There is also the beach, if you want to relax with your clothes on (women, don’t dare take them off), your feet immersed in sea-wage and dead fish and the occasional sting ray – a dead one.

Also, sights and sounds of camels and horses running along the beach and shitting everywhere as people pay for rides and people driving on the dark sand in their prandos.

Some women in Karachi have junglitis feveris. Symptoms include lack of any Islamic principles, consumption of alarming amounts of alcohol and/or hashish (comparable to bhangi), good education and old age. Usually, these types are followed around by a hapless boyfriend or husband. They are usually from the ‘elite’ class as they call it; socially that means you can do whatever-the-fuck-you-want cause to some extent you are above religious and cultural barriers.

Guess what, there is an ‘Arte Caffe’-like place in Karachi. i.e nice setting for you to see and be seen. Here the women smoke openly. Possibly it was my shiny bald head, but I’d like to think that the unwavering stares were from women exhibiting symptoms of junglitis feveris. I was there with 3 Pakistani guys, and only one of us was meeting a nervous girl like it was high school again. (more on the dating scene in Karachi later)

INTERSTING OBSERVATIONS

The coolest, absolute coolest thing about Karachi, is the variety in people. There are black skinned, wooly haired people like me, darker skinned people than me with Asian hair, some as fair as Scandinavians, some with green or grey eyes etc and the best thing is that they are ALL PAKISTANI ORIGINO (3rd/4th generation). I think that’s amazing! But I also don’t understand the stares, cause I could be Pakistani anyway. Even the black people stare at me- SMH.

South C aside, Karachi has NO DRAINAGE SYSTEM. 2 hours of drizzling = 4 hours of traffic, a flooded and I mean knee-deep flooded HIGHWAY, and another holiday because the office will shut down. It rains 3 days a year in Karachi. That was the day I observated like 30 rats, bigger than squirrels running away from the water.

Ps, Karachi is better than it sounds.

Of course, Everything Looks better at night