Featured Blog, I: Friendly Advice
To the African Headed to US Colleges
African Bullets and Honey / March 28, 2006
Congratulations on your acceptance letter my friend. You must now tap into the deep rivers of American survival craft that I, with the help of the wise ones, have fashioned for the better part of a dozen years. You have struggled mightily to gain that visa, found just the right angle to pitch your proposal for a grant ('I was a child soldier before I went for a sex-change operation and I shed tears for the environment every night') and you are very clever and have read many books. But, and indulge me in saying this, you are a babe in nappies when it comes to the Herculean challenges facing the African man in his first year at an American liberal arts campus. The bigger your scholarship, the more prestigious the school, the more you need me. For a one-time fee of beers, which I will collect when I next see you, I will let you in on a few of my many secrets of how to keep the winter darkness at bay and your sanity intact. Here are some basics that you may want to keep in mind:
1. Black Man Rage: This is unavoidable on the whole and should be managed carefully. Every once in a while, you will feel a massive surge of anger at a very reasonable stance or action by a white person. Breathe deeply when you feel it coming on and let rip when it first appears. Allowing it to build will only guarantee its nuclear-like proportions when it eventually explodes; better to let it go at grenade stage. BMR, which is a clinically proven state, is brought on by mercy, understanding and a certain slow nodding motion that has been perfected by the white denizens of liberal arts colleges. I could tell you more grasshopper, but you will learn as you feel. There is only one situation in which you must avoid BMR: when you are inevitably stopped by the cops. You will have generously suppressed it earlier only to see it emerge in the presence of an armed man with little compunction shooting terrorists and angry black men.
2. The Drought: You must forget sex for three-six months after your arrival on campus. You will discover that your language of sex (unless it is monetary) sounds like Martian to the co-eds around you. Being a writer and having dreads might allow you to cut some of the Drought period but make no mistake, there shall be a drought. What this will do is increase BMR and can potentially be demoralizing. There is nothing quite like disrespecting people who then refuse to be seduced by you. It crushes even the strongest egos. Even those that the owner did not know they possessed. The Drought will lead you down several wrong paths. It will make you believe for instance that the slow-nodding liberal girl from a small town in California is about to give you action. Nothing could be further from the truth, she is likely of the opinion that you are a diseased pet placed on campus for her entertainment (and here I stop to collect my breath and swallow a sudden, bitter spike of BMR).
3. Collegiality: this is a biggie. The fact that you are going to a college town means that the faculty sets great store by this word, and that they are supposedly proud and committed to teaching. Read the rest at African Bullets and Honey...
Featured Blog, II: Suppressed
On Domestic Violence
The Witchy Angel / April 7, 2006
In fact this is the one topic I dont really want to talk about, but seeing the searches which have been turning up here recently looks like this another subject which is screaming out to be spoken out. Years ago when I was still very new to the blog world I read a post by a Tamil blogger and I have been looking for the post ever since and I am yet to find it. She had blogged about a young girl who'd got married and moved to Europe with her husband. I can't remember the exact details of the post but the young woman escaped from an abusive situation with the help of some Indians (family friends?) she came across. At that time I felt that the blogger was a little bit unsympathetic towards the young woman's plight in a foreign country. To this new bride everything would have been different, new country, new culture, different language, no friends or family nearby, it couldn't have been easy to walk out of a marriage, even an abusive one. It is certainly easy for a 3rd person to look from outside and talk about all the support organisations and the laws that exist to support the women in these situations and why she should have walked out a lot earlier. But in reality it takes a lot of courage for these women to do so, despite the support that might be available. As I said earlier, I don't remember the exact details of the post and I have been hunting for it since then and am yet to find it. Somehow that post also vaguely reminded me of Sivashankari's 47 Naatkal story I'd read as a kid. The fact that I remember the post years later shows the amount of impact that post had on me, it was a very well written article.
Domestic violence seems to affect all classes of the society, from the maid you might have had in Chennai to the richest CEO's wives it seems to affect women from all walks of lives. It affects very well educated independent young women as much as it does the women at the other end of the spectrum. It affects women of different culture irrespective of colour, be it in India or in the west women seem to be putting up with it in the hope that things will change for the better one day. And before anyone comes screaming at me for being politically incorrect, yes I have heard that it affects men too. But I am yet to meet a guy who has been hit and abused by his partner, that does not mean it doesn't happen but probably a lot less than the abused women. Read the rest at The Witchy Angel...