Monday, January 22, 2007

Interfaith Work, The Diaspora/Expats, and Pride

Someone on a list I am on (actually, two lists I am on), posted an article about Eboo Patel. You know, one of those things about NRI's (Non-Resident Indians) making good. I had the honour of being on the same radio show as Eboo P about a year ago now, and I agree that he's something to be proud of for any community he's part of. See can listen to the radio appearance here.

But the moment I got that mail, I had just gotten back (less than 24 hours) from 3 weeks in India and Pakistan (Karachi and Lucknow; meeting with people from several social strata) and I am not sure the people "on the ground" need to be *TAUGHT* anything new about being nice people of other faiths--what we need are strong voices countering things like, just to provide one example, articles about Keith Ellison titled "Muslim Zionist" (the Jamat-e-Islami's English-language newsletter "Radiance Weekly" in INDIA--quoting, it later turned out, further making the point, a Stateside fanatic rag). And it is the diaspora that needs new voices on this. On the ground, there are enough people with the a moderate outlook, a strong spine, and a track record; we just need to find them and support them.

I guess what I am saying is that we should be doing lists of Indians (or, more importantly, South Asians) in South Asia that we can be proud of--and then listen to what they are saying and support what they are doing. Here's my list:

  • Sandeep Pandey, Lucknow
  • Bloggers everywhere
  • The War Against Rape in Karachi and in Lahore (two independently-run

And those are just the ones I met without much effort or reaching out. Then there are others one hears about:

  • The folks working to create a common ground initiative IN Ayodhya between faith communities. I'd like to see someone in the diaspora hold a candle to that. I have a booklet in Hindi I can photocopy and send anyone interested
  • Asma Jehangir, Hina Jilani, IA Rehman, et al and the HRCP in Pakistan...

I could go on...

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Thursday, January 11, 2007

Letter From Lucknow...About Karachi

As some readers will know--my apologies for not formally informing readers on the blog--I have been travelling on a long-delayed "visit home". My connectivity--and time on the computer--have been sparse in the last two or so weeks. I hadn't been able to travel for almost six years now--and hadn't been to our ancestral stomping grounds in Lucknow for eight. So I thought I should provide some updates from "the road", so to speak.

There are a million thoughts that have gone through my head (smoking is now banned in Pakistan Government offices--by order of the Supreme Court; Karachi, at least, now has a LOT of book stores; newer elevators in India have elevator music--desi elevator music; ...) but the first couple of things that merit--I'd say mandate--mention:

which my brother and I found very, very apropos. The only thing missing is a direct caution (though #6 seems to cover it somewhat) that cellphone-snatching is a very present and common danger. There are now two types of people in Karachi: those that carry cool cellphones; and those that have been mugged. Oh, and yes, especially in English-speaking circles, the word "mugged" is now not something you hear about happening in far-away New York City. There is, sadly, very regular occasion to use the word.

Secondly, I had the honour, yes, honour, not honor, to attend a gathering of some of Pakistan's bloggerati--including the photoblogger recently profiled by Time Magazine. See:

Regards, Salaam, and Adaab from a new suburb in the "The Old Country",

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