Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Ismail, you are doing a great job!

Eid Mubarak, all of you! I’ve been wanting to write for sometime now, but guess I’ve been overloaded with emotions, questions and just too much confusion in my mind.

But, while I sat to watch television y’day (which is a rare thing for me to do), I saw this news report on how a black Eid was celebrated across the nation. I saw celebrities who follow the Islamic faith criticize the recent Mumbai attacks; I heard repeatedly that the Holy Quran does not promote harmful acts, bloodshed or terrorism. I read messages of solidarity, peace and brotherhood on the television screen.

All this only reinforced my faith, the faith of being Indian. Not that of any cast, creed, community, religion or economic strata of the society, but of simply being Indian!

One word unites us: this was an email Natasha sent me last week

Last week, I was in Delhi meeting up with a group of bright entrepreneurs at a popular café in Connaught Place. The café was bustling with life, with many youngsters, tourists and families. The youngsters keeping tables and processing orders wore a welcoming smile as they went about their tasks.

Among them, I noticed one youngster who stood silently, alone in a corner. Wore a sad face, which screamed out “I don’t want to be here, let me go home”. But, I guess he had no choice, but to professionally go about his duties of keeping tables and processing orders. His colleagues spoke to him casually and he responded mechanically. Each time he had to interact with a customer or a customer looked at him, he got very conscious. He stood there covering his hand not to reveal his name tag!

I kept watching him, as I went about my meeting. I so wanted to walk up to him and ask him if I could help him in any way, what his troubles were and perhaps give him a “Jaadu Ki Jappi”. But, I just could not muster enough courage.

Finally, before I left the café. I happened to visit the restroom and on my way out, I crossed paths with him. I smiled at him, but he looked away. I noticed that his name tag read – Ismail.

As I walked out of the café I had tears in my eyes. I so wanted to tell him that it was not his fault that a certain group of people want to cause harm and destruction in this world! Just because he has a name that is similar to those who caused harm and destruction, he does not become one of them! I just could not go back to doing it. I did not want to hurt him more, if at all.

I’ve read a few events of people blaming the Islamic community in India after that incident. I have read of one instance where an airhostess was yelled and verbally abused at because of her name. I’d like to apologize on behalf of all those who may have reacted in helpless anger, without realizing what they were doing.

I am thankful to all those friends of mine who have made me what I am, among other things - a true proud Indian. And to all my friends who follow the Islamic faith – I love you all as much or more than I did before. You’ll are great human beings, many peace loving, many more creative than the rest! Thank you for being a part of my life!


  1. Nandini,

    Thanks for sharing! I stand with you in solidarity my friend.


  2. moving story. i can only guess what ismail must be going thru. as the chinese curse goes, we are in interesting times now

  3. Good write up. It always takes a few idiots to ruin it for everyone else and then we have the ripple effect of causality with all the nonsense that goes around post incident.

    End of the day, its just insecurities that we carry that are the bigger problem IMO.

  4. so sad Nandini, I have people workinng with me who are Muslims yet so much Indians and we all know that their first commitment is to humanity alone. Ismail needs to have confidence in himself to act like a human and we need to tell him this and support in such odd hours.

  5. Its actually very disturbing to see kids growing up in this environment. Ismail and other kids need a very big hug(jaadu ki jappi) from every Indian.

  6. @ Shilpa, thanks for the solidarity expressed, we need more and more of that in current times
    @D, interesting times indeed!

  7. @Jason: Truly said, its the insecurities we carry thats the larger problem. But unfortunately, its the society that is a part to the insecurities we garner...and hence incidents like this. Education and experiences also influence these insecurities.

  8. Hi Nands, Hi all,
    Well, I was moved by what you wrote and there is something which has been eating me and itching me to write about it. A full fledged column, what say, Nands?!
    While the whole of India went on burning Pakistani flags and abusing people and getting more and more emotional, I just want to tell those guys this...
    Yeah, for sure, I was shocked, hurt and choked with what happened to my Mumbai...I lived there for three years...three of my best years. I've sat and enjoyed a couple of beers at Leopold, yeah, and at that first table, roamed around the Gateway and The Taj hotel, watched movies at Metro. Travelled everyday from CST.
    Coming to the point of burning Pakistan's flag, abusing them isn't done. Why are we blaming an entire country when its the work of some bloody twits. Now, I live in the UAE and as you would know there are a lot of Pakistanis here. My colleagues are Pakistanis, cab guys are Pakistani. There are some restaurants which are Pakistani. Let me tell you, when you are in trouble or need help, they are the first ones to come forward and help you. They are the nicest people I've known.
    One more office security guy is from Karachi. He cooks everyday and we share dinner together...I think I've made my point...

  9. Very Touching story Nandu, thanks James for making a point. I really cant wait to see a World without borders. I feel sad to see humanity abusing each other unnecessarily. I was in Mumbai for a day & remember sitting in Leopold & making the sketch of a woman in the opposite table in Sameer's book. All religions preach just one thing "Peace & Harmony" Its time we practised & preached it.

  10. @ James: Hey James! Thanks for penning down your experiences here.

    Its very true indeed. I have had a similar experience when i lived in California for a couple of years in early 2000. I frequented 2 Punjabi-Pakistani restaurants, one in San Francisco city and the other down south in the valley - both run by Pakistani's. They had India's working as part of their staff. Most hospitable, very friendly and what great food! The 2 theaters i frequented that screened Indian movies -were owned by Pakistani's. I knew and interacted with many who were from Pakistan / who followed the Islamic faith, as i did with others who were from other nationalities and faiths. But never could or can i differentiate by saying that these guys are bad / are not peace loving or are harmful.

    As a matter of fact - your nationality, the faith you follow or where you come from is not a yard stick to measure a person's character. There are good and bad people who come from every where - its the individual experiences that make for what you are and NOT which faith you follow, which part of the world you come from or belong.

    @ Illkilya: As much as its true that no faith / religion preaches violence or harm. It's unfortunate that like most literary classic works, these scriptures are also left to interpretation and the propaganda of such farcical interpretations.

  11. why we have missed jews, zorastrians, taoists

  12. @nandini

    I think this is kali yuga
    what do you think

  13. Hey Noodly! Thanks for remaining a human being! A blessed one at that, in today's dog eat dog world! I had a similar experience too... after years of government sponsored prejudice against the pakis, I landed in cold Belgium for a couple of years all by myself. the only friendly smile you got was if you really knew somebody and perhaps visited them after taking a proper appointment a week in advance. you never built relationships with shopkeepers like you do in India (even inviting them to your wedding!). . .and then I discovered this pakistani store. The lack of organization made me feel at home, and the casual attitude did the rest. They would chat up like old friends, about being away from home, masaledar khana, etc. you could buy off credit there (incase I forgot my wallet), and the guy was willing to even open the shop on a holiday just for me! I guess people are the same all over the world. It's power hungry people who apply the "divide and rule" policy that manage to play with public sentiment to achieve dangerous goals. Thanks for lighting a lamp wit this blog..and thanks for spreading the good word...btw if that Jaadu ki Jhappi is still unused, you could give it to me!! :)

  14. Good that you finally came to know why he was shying away. Else, you would have never guessed the real reason. But I guess this is the state of the country. Only if we could change it.


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