Sunday, June 10, 2007


It’s three thirty seven am, as I start to type this, My wife is sleeping, noisily, and the kids are away for the weekend, The dogs are asleep, as I should be, and the cats are out looking for lizards, or some such treat to break the never-ending monotony of the Pedigree cat food we supply them with.

Jodie deserves to sleep a long time tonight. She took another major step on the road to realizing that all people are different, yet all are the same; and that difference is a cause for celebration, rather than a reason for fear and enmity.

I run karaoke shows from time to time. Tonight I ran one in an expensive hotel for a wealthy friend. I will call him Jack.

Jack is from India. He arrived in the US in 1971. He went to college and started a business. In the twenty five years that have elapsed since the business opened, both Jack, and his company, have prospered. Tonight we celebrated that 25 years, and Jack’s 50th birthday. Jack was the first member of his family to move to the US. Now there are around fifty. One is a banker, one runs another established company locally, many are children, or at college, or are elders enjoying a decent retirement.

Jack, and his family, epitomize the American Dream, and the benefits to us all of immigration. When I arrived, a little over two years ago, I met Jack in a local bar. He was friendly, and he was very helpful in providing me with opportunities, including parties to DJ. He continues to be helpful and despite him probably being the richest person I actually know in this country, I charge him rather less than I charge other people.

Tonight’s party was a curious affair. It was attended by around one hundred and fifty people, a mix of friends, family, employees and business contacts. They didn’t want to sing much, although they did enjoy the singing by both another guest and myself. Clearly, success in business turns you deaf, but that’s another post. It was, however, very clear that there was a clash of cultures that was very difficult for some people to comprehend. Much Indian music was played. It was the usual scene …. One of the guys would give me a bunch of CDs, with a neatly tabulated sheet asking me to play certain tracks in a particular order; then, as soon as I start, the girls would come rushing in, resplendent in their saris, demanding that I change the order, and casting withering looks in the direction of their menfolk. All very normal. My difficulty was that I don’t have much in the way of Bollywood Hits, and cueing up the next track is tricky, when you have no idea when the first is likely to end.

The culture clash was this …. Many guests simply couldn’t get their heads around the music. Nothing about it appeared to them to relate to life as they knew it. This lead to a general exodus to the designated smoking areas, and a dance floor filled with Indian teens, young Moms and grannies, all having a whale of a time. I heard a few disparaging remarks about the music, and was filled with a sense of loss. Loss that guests who didn’t understand, and didn’t try to understand, were suffering. From my perch all I could see was a room filled with people having a great time. From the 4 year old who waited up until 11 pm for a chance to sing a country music hit, to the very genuine attempts of middle aged white people joining in and having a blast.

I was witnessing a normal, very commonplace, family party. I was a little surprised that others saw it differently. Jodie didn’t. She saw exactly what I was seeing, and it troubled her deeply (several Jack and Cokes contributed). She was mortified that she grew up in an area where people see difference as fearful, colour as an object to be scorned, and if it ain’t sung by Garth Brooks, it ain’t music. I’ll be honest. I don’t much care for Bollywood type tunes. They are unfamiliar, and strange to my ears. On the other hand, when the girls insisted I play the same track three times in a row, telling me it was just the biggest hit ever, I got it.

Jodie wants to know how we can fight these attitudes. How she can shelter her children, my stepchildren, from their father and grandfather who still call black people “nigger”; a word I don’t even like to type, and how we can help them inderstand that a gay couple can be loving and decent, in the face of sneers from Dad. And she complains, that she may be awakening, but she is just one person, what difference will it make?

All the difference in the world, is the real truth, but she can’t hear it yet. Maybe in the morning.

1 comment:

Rick said...

Hello Steve Rick here. We live in a me world that has spawned spoiled people that have closed minds. Music is very personal but to not want to listens to other types of music is insane. I have heard india style music it's very spiritual. I wish I could have heard it. I don't know the answer the 60's and 70's were for not. This was a more open town in the 60's and 70's. Racism hides in different forms it's not just culture. We are paying for the loss of arts in schools read some of the lyrics today. All you can do is try to show your kids and step kids how to treat people. Well I better go now it's 10:30 tell Jodie I said Hi you made any beer lately let me know if you need any help got a lot of free time ha ha bye Rick