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November 26, 2006 / Maleesha Kovnesky

Ethnic

I just finished Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake.  It was a great book.  I love reading novels about other cultures.  The Namesake wasn’t necessarily about another culture, but the characters and many of the events were Indian.  It really gets me to thinking about the mystery of life, and why we end up where we end up.  Why was I born in Montana, USA,  while others are born in crack houses and mud huts and villas and flats and in refugee camps?  How does one end up being born here, versus Europe, Asia, or anywhere?  Fascinating

Does all this mean my heritage revolves around Wal-Mart, Burger King, and other grossly American ideas?  In The Namesake, the mother Ashima spends an afternoon preparing for a party, deep frying Indian food that I can’t pronounce, and wearing shiny saris and things that sound foreign and exciting.  I guess here in America we have Christmas cookies to fall back on–even though those are hardly made from scratch anymore, thanks to the tradition-sucking theives at Nestle’. 

The closest I have ever felt to “ethnic” was in third grade, when schoolmate Josh C. ran up to me on the playground of Emerson Elementary and said “My parents said your parents are pinko commies.”*  Had there been Internet, or even an old copy of the C volume of the World Book in our house then, I’m sure I would have ran straight home after school and Wikipedia’d the slur.  But at the time I felt kind of cool. 

Years later, when I found out what a pinko was, I wanted to run up to little Josh and pull a Stalin on his arse.

*Based on maiden name – Kovnesky

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