Friday, 2 May 2014

10 Things you shouldn't say to a British Asian

So I am a proud Brit, born and raised in the south of England. I lived in Bangladesh for two years of my life as a teenager - it was an amazing experience, one that changed me in many, many ways. I loved in Leeds for a while too as my husband is northern, now I am back in the south where I belong lol. I have an incredibly strong British accent, I have a name that isn't particularly Asian, my thinking is very much British, nearly all of my friends are British. I love the UK and could never see myself living anywhere else, genuinely - my husband asked me if I could live anywhere in the entire world where would it be, he was talking about Miami, Italy, just really wonderful places and I said Exeter and lo' behold here we are!

Don't get me wrong though I am still Bengali and as such I am a British Bengali, the Brit bit comes first and when I am asked what nationality I am I reply British! I have had some of the oddest things said to me in my nearly 21 years of life and I don't know if they are racist or just plain ignorant tbh.

1) "Oh my gosh! You speak like us".

What the fuck do I say to that? Dumbfuck of course I speak like you - WE ARE FROM THE SAME FUCKING PLACE. My English, arguably is better than yours in many cases. Why is it if you are Asian you have to have this Apu-from-the-Simpsons-"thankyoupleasecomeagain" accent? How about no? I was born here, I went to school here, I was raised here, I am from here just like you dumbass. My accent is quite idk how to put this... stuck up? I come from a little village that is known for it's massive part in the horsing industry and everyone is quite well spoken, don't get me wrong my accent has relaxed a lot since I've moved around quite a bit but it still is... the way it is :/

2) "But you have a white name".

Now I totally get that I was young and that the girl that said this was quite obviously lacking a serious amount of brain cells, maybe she was dropped on her head or something but yeah this was a conversation that took place when I was a teen.
Girl: so whats your name again?
Me: Monica
Girl *perplexed look*
Girl: but that's a white name.
Me: uhhh
Girl: you're Indian aren't you?
Me: no actually I just got stuck in a tanning booth.
Girl *even more perplexed look*

For the record I'm not Indian, I have a lot of Indian influence and probably am far more Indian than I am Bengali - which is a confusing concept if you don't know the difference between the two, but I am most definitely not Indian - I am Bengali. 

My name has quite an obscure entomology, but it's thought to originate from what is now Algeria. It has many variant forms in Spanish, European/Brazilian Portuguese and French but it means something along the lines of unique, to advise, alone, nun or solitary - which tbh is a great meaning for me to have. In Greece the actually celebrate my name day on my birthday which is so fucking cool. But yeah as I have mentioned I was born with a horrible name that didn't suit me and as a nickname Shanzida (pronounced Sanjida) just what the fuck? I'm pretty sure my name was probably the name of some floozy from the sordid past of my dna donor and Shanzida as far as I have been told means sadness or to be glum - very apt if you ask me. But at the age of three I refused to answer to any other name than Monica and nearly everyone accepted this - the people that didn't aren't a part of my life anymore. They couldn't accept me for me and weren't really meant to be part of my life, that's that. But yeah that is the reason I have a white chicks name. Get over it.

3) "Yeah but you're not really Muslim are you?"

Wait. Hold up. What does that even mean? Religion is a belief dipshit. So I'm not wearing a headscarf and I don't pray five times a day, during Ramadan I am not allowed to fast as it's detrimental to my health and as such isn't allowed and I don't cover up head to toe. But when was the last time you went to your place of worship or even just took a moment to think about god or ask him for strength?  I have my own way of practicing my belief - it's private and I think it's better that way, I try to be a good person as much as I can. I have seen religious people who are bad people from so many faiths and I just think you're judged after death by your actions and for that I am more than happy to take my comeuppance for the wrong I have done, I'm not scared of Death or what comes after because I think it's on my own back - it's my own fault what happens to me and I fully deserve it. So who are you to tell me what I am and what I am not? I identify as this faith and I don't question you on yours. I do my own thing so you do yours.

4) "I just always thought you drank"

What because I go out? I am and have been around more alcohol than most kids my age - nearly all of my family and family friends have restaurants and I spent a shit load of time running around them during and after hours and they all have bars, I knew the basic setup of a regular bar in Asian restaurants by the time I was about 14, forgotten that shit now, but I knew it. I don't drink- yes, it is part of my religion not to drink or consume anything that alters my mind but tbh I know people that pray 5 times a day and after Friday prayer go out on the lash with mates so yeah it's more out of genuine choice that I don't drink - I don't need social lube (hahahaaaa lube... ahem sorry). Loads of people don't drink - not because of faith but for personal reasons, health issues or even just because they don't like it. So why is it so surprise that I don't? I have a better time sober and do crazier shit than you when you're smashed as fuck.

5) "Yeah but you're not like them"

Yes I am. I eat rice and curry once a day, I eat halal food, I like mango pickle, I speak a different language to you and understand many regional dialects/variants of Bengali, Hindi and Urdu. I listen to lots of music that isn't English spoken and watch many movies that aren't in english too. If you open my fridge you will find vegetables that aren't familiar, fish that is unknown to you, I can't eat at certain places or things because of what they sell/contain, I dress normally according to you but tbh I make sure my shoulders are covered, my chest is covered and my legs when I'm outside, because it is frowned upon in my culture but also because I am married and I don't want anyone but my husband to see my skin and because I have body image problems, even if I wasn't Bengali or Muslim I would still keep that much covered up, I can't wear shorts I have to many scars, I'm not comfortable with my legs, I don't like my stomach as I have problems with lanugo, my arms feels to long and lanky, my shoulders are to big and I just don't like my body and therefore why would I want to show my body - lots of people don't wear short tight clothes because they just don't - it doesn't suit them , it's not their thing, there are lots of reasons - Mine are that I'm hairy, lanky, damaged fucking weirdo, oh and it will get me called a whore.  And who are you refering to when you say "them"? Other Asians? Don't get me wrong I don't have many Asian friends but that because I haven't really had a chance to make many - in the two primary school I went to, the first of which had no Asians (it was a catholic school) and then the second there where three Asians in my class including me, secondary school there were more but I wasn't Asian enough for them and they saw me as a bad influence so that was that, college the same I was the only Asian on my course; plus I've always lived in places with low ethnic populations. However if you leave me with the people you are referring to as "them" I guarantee we will get on - there are jokes that don't translate well that we can share, foods and hobbies that we share a love for, pains growing up that we have both been though.

6) "Oh, your voice and the way you look don't quite together"

This has only happened a few times to me but it's more the split second shock that registers, when someone speaks to me on the phone, they know I'm called Monica and I have (for lack of better phrasing) a very white accent, then they meet me and I have dark skin, very big dark eyes, long black hair - I am basically the complete antithesis of what they thought I would be like. It's funny. And I don't shake hands and for some reason they are like "is that a cultural thing?", I'm like "no, I have OCD, it's an OCD thing - touching people I don't know freaks me out and gives me hives" (note: sometimes I am even allergic to my own self so don't take offence, it's not because I think you are not clean - I don't know you, you may be even cleaner than me; it's just I have space issues) and they are like "oh". It's just like dude I don't want to touch you because I don't know you - it's too personal for me to shake hands, my hand is touching your hand, it's just ugh, ah! ewwww. Okay I need to take an antihistamine now, my hands are itching just thinking about it. But yeah it's funny it usually takes a second for them to correct themselves, you can see their heads like "but, but, but... her names Monica... and she sounds...huh?". Lol.

7) Racist comments and thinking I'm cool with it.

Dude unless we know each other, like really know each other and I know you're just messing or I'm saying it as a joke - don't fucking think racism is okay. To quote Kevin Hart "I'ma chop you in your goddamn neck, bitch". I don't give a fuck who you are saying it about, don't think I'm cool with your fucked up view of the world. I call my husband a "paki" all the time and put on a funny accent and say things to take the piss but I'm messing. I remember one time a girl at my college put a status up saying she was on the train and that there were a bunch of "smelly Muslims" that had also boarded too. I saw this and walked into class with a smile on and in front of the entire class, said something along the lines "yeah Summer those smelly Muslims, why can't they just bathe?!" - she wasn't sure what to say, neither was the rest of the class. I'm going to say it if Indians smell like curry, white people smell like pubs, black people smell like coco butter, Chinese people smell like Chinese food and students just smell. You CANNOT say an entire fucking nationality smell like one thing - right now I smell like toast, Chloe by Chloe, faintly of BO because I've had a bit of a fever and I sweat like a motherfucker lol. But my husband never smells - it doesn't matter what he does or how much he has sweated he never smells, his clothes don't even smell. Please stop saying these stupid things, it's not fair. 

8) "So where are you from?" followed by "no like originally?"

I always answer with "Lambourn, (which is where I am from)" and I get this *where-the-fuck-is-that* look, so I say "it's a small village near Newbury...", still getting that look. "Umm Swindon-ish...", still they look confused, I may as well be telling them about a place in Bangladesh; so then I end with "okay it's like less that hour away from Reading" and I get "Oh! I know Reading". Good for you, you want a fucking medal? Then they are like "no, you know, like originally?" and I'm like "Oh! Sorry, I was born in Truro". What do you want me to say? My Maa's ovaries? Why the fuck do you need to know my ethnic origin bitch? Are you my doctor? Or some sort of admin staff that you need this info? No, so back the fuck up. I don't care where you are from so why do you care where I come from? Does this in anyway change your perception of me? I love the ones that assume I'm Indian - not all brown skinned people are Indians, you uneducated, close minded, uncultured, disrespectful little twat. Like not all people with almond shaped eyes are Chinese, not all European people are Polish and not all United Arab Emirates people are from Dubai. Get a fucking map please and fucking learn something, dickwad.

9) "Oh I know a girl from there called *insert Asian name*, do you know her?"

No. I don't, I probably know a person with that same name like you probably know at least two people with the same name,  had three girls in one of my classes all called Victoria, spelt in three different ways - Vicky, Vikki, Vicki. We don't all know each other, we might even share a second name but do you know everyone with the same second name as you? Cuz that is a fuck load of people to know. I barely know anyone tbh, I have like 30 Facebook friends because that is genuinely how many people call friends. Don't assume we all know each other, please. It's really stupid.

10) "Back home"

Dude, I am home. It's funny if you think going on holiday to Bangladesh is me going back home what planet do you live on? Neanderthals are thought to have started near Gibraltar - do you feel at home when you go there on holiday? Stfu. Bangladesh is my mother land not my home. My blood and bones don't feel right when they are not in the south of England - I am a full on British, country-side, village girl - I love seeing bales of hay in fields, I love see bright yellow rapeseed growing on hills, I love hearing horses trot by in the early morning, tractors are normal to me, country lanes and tiny b-roads don't scare me, I'm used to seeing rabbits hopping about, pheasants trying to kill themselves by jumping out into the road when cars are coming and I am used to a slow pace of life. Home is where you can feel at peace and for me that is the UK. So don't thrust your definition of home onto me please.

So yeah that was actually much more fun to write that I was expecting, I called my Maa and made her laugh a few times with it. Although she did say to probably not bring this up or anything up when I go out with my hubby's friends. OMG I'm not sure how I am going to do a few hours of being normal and nothing weird or offensive coming out of my mouth.

Wish me luck.





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