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The image of dessis in Pardes (non-dessi countries).

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    The image of dessis in Pardes (non-dessi countries).

    As dessi’s, who also happen to be Muslim, we are often the victim of stereotypes that are out of our control. This effects how we work, study, play, in essence how we exist our lives in non-dessi countries.

    What are the stereotypes?
    Is there a difference in stereotypes? How dessis are perceived in Europe vs America?

    Are they realistic images or just figments of news propaganda?

    How much are we, as a cultural group, at fault for creating these stereotypes?

    I’m not just interested in the West but also in the middle east, south-east asia and eastern Europe. So anyone with some input….please do so.

    [This message has been edited by kashmirigirl (edited March 08, 1999).]

    All I can tell you is about desi students in the US (not considering ABCDs); their general impression is of real studious people, but whenever they see cricket they cannot control their desi senses and just jump in the game. But then I have seen amazing transformations towards both directions.


      hamid bhai:

      cricket, as in with footbal or baseball, is a sport much adorned by the masses. Sports brings out the worst/best in everybody.


        What exactly is a desi ?

        Is it a native Pakistani who walks around in the middle of winter in his shalwar kameez and topi ?

        I saw one in the Tesco supermarket yesterday. He looked like he had just arrived from his village in Mirpur that very morning.

        Farouq Taj.


          Salam Taj bhai.
          Aap us shahas ki sehat ke bare main fiqarmand hain ya us ke libaas par sherminda?

          Kisi doosre mulq main jaane ka yeh matlab nahin ke insaan apni pehchaan bhool jai. Shalwar qamees khoobsoorat libaas hai, ise har mulq main pehna ja saqta hai - baat himat ki hai, main pehenti hoon ghar aur office main. Loag mujhe mere libaas ke hawale se pehchante hai to mujhe fakhar hota hai.
          Paindoo hone main kiya burai hai?


            Assallaamu 'alaikum

            Farouq yar,

            I have to agree with sabah. We should be proud of wearing our cultural libaas, not just as Pakistanis, but also as Muslims. Even many of my non-Pakistani friends wear shalwaar kameez on the streets. I have a Moroccan friend who teaches at a college and wears nothing but the Pakistani libaas or the thobe, whenever he leaves the house Masha'Allaah.

            [This message has been edited by Hasnain (edited March 10, 1999).]



              I concur with your remarks. I would like to mention that I wore Shalwar Kameez along with few other freinds to college during ramadhans. This is almost 4 years back but I think the reason we all wore it together gave us the moral support to actually walk around feeling proud that we're atleast trying to preserve our culture.

              I remember when I was much younger, I used to make fun of people on the street when I saw them wearing shalwar kameez. Now I know better.


                Most common Stereotypes.

                1) Their only profitable occupations is owning a 7-11, dunkin donuts or driving a cab. Happened to me in high school, since I was the only desi at school, a guy came up to me and said with a smirk "so girl your dad, does he drive a cab or own a dunkin donuts?"

                2) For girls, so is your dad really controlling? when is your arranged marriage gonna take place? does your dad, have another wife?? (Yes, I was asked this). So why cant you date? why is such a thing against your religious beliefs? what if you dont like your arranged marriage husband?

                3) oh you grew up in Saudia Arabia, so how was it living in the desert? How can you speak english without much of an accent?

                4) In gym class, why cant you wear shorts?

                The fact their are numerous stereotypes that you deal with more growing up in United states and Europe primarily because the society is individualistic. Some of it is propaganda, and some of it is our own fault. The media does a horrible job at displaying desis, you guys ever watch Missippi Masala (what the heck was that)? I can pick out about 100 stereotypes out of that movie. The next time a person asks you or throws a stereotype at you maybe you wanna actually take the time to talk to them.



                  I think being South Asian and being Muslim we get a double dose of stereotyping. South Asians do not seem to have the strength of an influential lobby group to oppose media stereotyping. "Apu" on the Simpsons (for example) is overlooked, its alright to portray a "Paki" negatively on television. Paki-bashing is accepted. In addition to the lack of a strong lobby group, it also seems as though South Asians don't care about being stereotyped. Most look at portrayals like "Apu", and laugh along with the jokes, realizing that the portrayals are so far fetched that nobody would take them seriosly. Unfortunately the ignorant do.

                  I've heard all the stereotypes Felicity mentioned, I'd add some to her list:

                  1) "Does your father wear a turban? Oh I thought all Pakis wore turbans.."
                  2) "Does your mom wear a "bindi" dot on her forehead?"
                  3) "Pakis" are believed to all eat one homogenous food called curry - some think it grows on trees. American: (Upon noticing a desi's lunch) "Is that curry? I love curry...(thinking in his head - but it stinks)" Desi: "No actually it isn't curry", American: (thinking - sure smells like curry).
                  4) Everyone with a brown tint of skin is a "Paki" and therefore from Pakistan.

                  While "Paki" bashing became popular after the large influx of immigrants into the UK, Muslim stereotyping has been an ongoing affair, occuring for centuries. Starting with orientalists (Edward Said's titled Orientalism is now a classic and discusses this in detail) interpretations of the Qur'an, Muslim culture (which they believe is one homogenous culture) and the life of the Prophet.

                  Are we to blame for the sterotypes - I don't think so. These sterotypes are propagated by the media, and become part of the collective concious of groups. The victims of the stereotypes should not be blamed. Perhaps we could have done a better job of countering the myths.

                  On another note, Muslims hold stereotypes of the West which are equally harmful, here is one example:

                  Mawdudi's wrote: In the West people "perpetually remain in a feverish condition on account of nude pictures, cheap literature, exciting songs, emotionally erotic dances, romantic films, highly disturbing scenes of obscenity and ever-present chances of encountering members of the opposite sex."

                  An example of a stereotype from the other side.



                    US stereotypes .... abt Pakis/Muslims....

                    1. you dont drink hmmmMMM!!!!!!!

                    2. What no girlfriend!!! u are a virgin
                    until u get married ... Whoaa!!!!!!

                    3. I heard u treat women like chattel -

                    4. Why do u smell of spices ?????

                    5. hey man !!! u r indian gals are sooo cool
                    .. long hair & stuff can u set me up wuth
                    your sister or cousin or something ....

                    6. Does ur dad own a 7-11 ????


                    DEsi stereotype abt US based desis.....

                    1. NEw York/ Jersey
                    Cabbies/ 7-11 / financial types

                    2. Chicago - Cabbies/7-11/physicians types
                    Hyderabadis ......

                    3. St Louis - Desi Physicians

                    4. Houston - Cabbies/7-11/

                    5. Dallas - Engineers/physicians

                    6. L.A -- Engineers/7-11/Jack in the Box

                    7. San Francisco - Desi Engineers/Geeks
                    /San Jose


                    popular car civic /corolla
                    Upscale car Accord/Camry

                    Ambition : To make kids physicans......

                    Fav Pastime : Eating Out and going to desi


                      Who here hates those who try to talk with other desis in English just trying to get some of that inferiority complex off their shoulders.

                      "Yaar did you get to see that movie on USA network"!!! What the heck boy why can't you talk in your langugage just like you have been doing for the past 20 years! Of course he wouldn't be called a desi if he doesn't know the desi language, ABCD would be a better acronym for such a desi )