Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Feminism and Terrorism

Hello Reader,
Got children with ideology and religion?

Those people who weren’t politically involved, as I was, may forget that back when people wore peace signs, even peace belt buckles, society endured constant bomb threats, while the The Anarchist Cookbook (for bomb making, 1971) was rolling off the presses. Sean Crawford 

I was wondering
To a young idealist
At university
Epilogue: A feminist regards Muslim Uzbekistan


I was wondering what I would say to my imagined college aged Muslim half-radical niece or nephew. Could I help them to exchange an iron ideology, one where cold parts fit too tightly to let any light shine through, for a loose, breezy uncertainty? The kids might claim I had “sold out.”

Maybe I could honestly tell them that I myself had been an involved teenage idealist, one who left home after my eleventh grade, wearing my non-capitalist home-dyed T-shirt, to go burrow into the edge of old Chinatown. (Of course I would spare them any stories until they were much older)

“Every man of spirit wants to ride a white horse.” If my grandparents, parents and my own peers believed in “salvation by society” as in, for example, a revolutionary form of government, an Arabic democracy, or communes of love… then, as Peter Drucker noted back in the 20th century, our children, giving up on such dreams, now believe in “salvation by religion.” 

Fundamentalism then, Muslim or otherwise, is just like terrorism in being NOT from “poverty and despair” as our bleeding heart leaders claimed after 9/11, but instead, surely, fundamentalism is from hope for a better world—in fact, I dare say there are now more fundamentalists in the affluent U.S.A. than in the less affluent parts of Europe. As a Londoner put it, “God lives in the American midwest.”

(Note: When I was phoning the British Museum long distance, to ask if I could wear my backpack, I caused a stir of laughter when I innocently said, “Praise the Lord.” The answer by the way was: Yes, you may bring your rucksack, but this year we have a line up for checking bags for guns and bombs)

As for London, as I noted here in my September essay I Met a Muslim in London, there were lots of folks in burkas walking around. Meanwhile, crossing my local university, I passed a young lady in black with only a visor slit for her eyes. I did not see that visor as being from [religion + peer pressure] No, I saw her as a typical student showing her [religion + youthful rebellion] .  A few years ago, while the pendulum swings, I read in the newspaper that Muslim kids in town are saying their parents are not Muslim enough. No doubt, to them, their parents praying only once or twice a day, instead of the Islamic five, is wrong. The kids cry: “You just don’t understand!” 

In my day, here in North America, Chinese parents might tell their child, as the kid packed alone to go to China, that China was not a “workers paradise,” that the cultural revolution was not a shining jewel to excite the world. But no, the kids had their own ideas: “You just don’t understand!” There is a Quebec movie (probably The Barbarian Invasions) where a man now old remembers, with a humiliating flashback, praising the cultural revolution. at great length, to a Chinese lady who has suffered unspeakable knowledge, as she just looks at him, steadily and silently.

To a young idealist packing up to go to the middle east, maybe torture prisons are OK, are only for the bad guys, only for the greater good of society, only temporary, to bring about a shining new age. Such iron logic. It was a communist sympathizer and “fellow traveler,” Han Suyin the Asian fiction writer, who helped me understand how to avoid being brainwashed—something I could share with my sister’s kids. As it happens, I was an intellectual, even back in my teens, and idealistic too. Allah knows we intellectuals can be very extreme in following our philosophies right to their fearsome, pitiless conclusions. One day I went to hear Han Suyin, (“Han” as in “China”) Such a gracious, gentle lady. She said you must look at concrete examples, not solely at your abstract religion-ideology. Do this, the lady said, in order to avoid the horrors of extremism. Based on her three-part political autobiography, I knew Ms Suyin was a survivor, gentle and effective, but never a useless bleeding heart: I respected her judgement.

I  would talk with my niece and say to her, yes, I can understand people saying society must be protected from sinners who would kiss each other, and so forth, outside of marriage but, if I may bring things down to a concrete level: Is beheading your cousin Fatima the appropriate response? And, to keep things “fair and square,” must cousin Mohammed, in turn, be stoned to death for kissing too? Another concrete example for my Puritan niece: Would you telephone the police if that handsome, nice looking Justin Trudeau was a guest at your house, and then he started smoking marijuana? And if you did, would you visit your former guest while he was in jail? Or would you be too ashamed of phoning? How unsurprising, then, that in Canada such drugs will become legal after mid-2018. 

(Note: In Canada, of course, drugs have remained illegal, but we have never waved the flag and beat the drum to have our society at war: No U.S.-style collateral damage, with President Obama impelled to pardon hundreds of people)

To the kids, I would reminisce about being a welcome member (“Just don’t vote”) of the Women’s Collective and Resource Centre at the university. “Liberation, sister!” And if my nephew’s eyes began to glaze over I’d tell a white lie, “How exciting for me, that they had burned their bras.” I have read that today feminist theory is so obscure only professors can discern it and then teach it, but— In my day, let me tell you, ordinary women without degrees could meet in people’s houses and share their concrete stories and experience. By doing so they encouraged each other to lower their mental defences and raise their consciousness. “The truth will set you free—but first it will make you miserable.” From their lived examples they formed theories, miserable ones maybe, but good ones. Heady stuff. Empowering. As for that new fangled assertiveness training, theory could be a friendly foundation, but assertiveness training only worked by using concrete examples. 

At university, if my niece and nephew were smart enough to attend, and if I visited, then I would tell them that technical courses require students to grind out equations every evening, right until up bed time—they are in school to learn the answers. It’s no coincidence terrorists never major in the liberal arts. In a general studies education, “free time” is part of the workload, for they are there to learn the questions.  Students may stay up, a boy and girl across coffee mugs from each other, not for equations but for discussing the meaning of life. (We just don’t do that in the working world) 

Term papers will be assigned well in advance of deadline, for students to have ample time to sit under an apple tree and get hit on the head by an idea. Too bad half of them will spin out their term paper the weekend before, but as for the other half—Wow. As a student, you discover there are no nice, tidy, ideological answers. You compare and contrast, document and footnote, and at the end of the term… the scholar still retains an open mind, the same as any scientist. 

The only fitting True Answer, however vague, is: Let us work for the common good. 

Let’s not have civilization go backwards. Because, as our liberal education unfolds,  we come to realize: it’s been such a terribly long, slow slog to get this far.

Sean Crawford
October
Alberta
2017

Epilogue: A feminist regards Muslim Uzbekistan
Missing… because it was posted here last week. (archived October 2017)

Footnotes 
~To document that terrorists don’t take general studies, see the opening of my essay Backfire, a book review, archived September 2010.

~for “today feminist theory is so obscure” see (link) 

~I wonder: In the British Guardian newspaper this week, did a non-feminist scientist’s unexamined belief in “society as we know it” misinterpret a viking grave? (link to) How the female viking warrior was written out of history.



Wednesday, October 11, 2017

As Epilogue a Feminist regards Muslim Uzbekistan

essaysbysean.blogspot.com

Hello Reader,
Remember your activism, back when the world was young?


I am publishing this epilogue first: It is the ending to next week’s piece, where I talk to my niece and nephew without revealing my own youthful involvement.


In London last month, on the embankment, (Bankside) at the free Tate museum of modern art, I paid to see a special exhibit of US Black political art. Outside the entrance, in the broad hall, were videos of Blacks speaking on camera: the assassinated and the dead. Of them, only Angela Davis, now out of prison, was still alive. From boyhood, I remembered James Baldwin, with great tender love, telling Ms Davis, “If they come for you in the morning, they will come for me in the evening.” I wanted to say so to the ticket taker, but my tongue faltered— I was too sad to talk to any Englishman too young to remember. I don’t regret my youthful days. The art included a door shot up by police killing a Black man as he lay sleeping. (Not the Black panther headquarters door, a different door)

At the exhibit gift shop—some shelves and counters by a cafe—I picked up a collection called Sister Outsider, essays and speeches by Audre Lorde, the U.S. Black poet and university teacher. About a decade before the taking down of the iron curtain, she went to Uzbekistan, a Soviet Socialist Republic. She wrote on page 29: 

QUOTE 
But she talked most movingly of the history of the women of Uzbekistan, a history which deserves more writing about than I can give it here. The ways in which the women of this area, from 1924 on, fought to come out from behind complete veiling, from Moslem cloister to the twentieth century. How they gave their lives to go bare-faced, to be able to read. Many of them fought and many of them died very terrible deaths in this battle, killed by their own fathers and brothers. It is a story of genuine female heroism and persistence. I thought of the South African women in 1956 who demonstrated and died rather than carry pass books. For the Uzbeki women, revolution meant being able to show their faces and go to school, and they died for it. A bronze statue stands in a square of Samarkand, monument to the fallen women and their bravery. Madam went on to discuss equality between the sexes. How many women now headed collective farms, how many women Ministers. She said there were a great many ways in which women governed; there was no difference between men and women now in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics… 
UNQUOTE


From Lorde’s edited journal entries from her trip in 1976 as the invited American observer to the African-Asian Writers Conference sponsored by the Union of Soviet Writers.
Sister Outsider, copyright Audre Lorde 1984, 2007,  Crossing Press, Berkeley

Sean Crawford,
With lots of memories pouring in today,
Je ne regret rien,
October,

2017

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

After the Mullah Hated


Hello Reader,
Got poetic prose?

Prologue
I am canceling my planned essay for this week, in light of the weekend terror attack in Edmonton. 

I am sure others are composing columns to bring to the newspapers, others are off talking to Muslims in public spaces, and writing for reading aloud at candlelight vigils. I have nothing to add to the voices at those places, but instead I will modestly write here on my little blog.

Note: A mosque is a Muslim church, a mullah is a Muslim preacher, who is always male.


After the Mullah hated

When the man in the mosque preached hatred of the Jews, I was not a Jew, so I did not protest.

When the man preached hatred of unbelievers, I was not an unbeliever, so I did not protest.

When the man preached hatred of Sunnis or else Shiites, I was the other one, so I did not protest.

When Sunnies and Shiites were called to mass for battle along the borders of Iran and Iraq, and all of my neighbours were caught up in the fighting, there was no time left for anyone to protest.



…In Canada, most of the Mullahs were born overseas, perhaps in lands where parents teach hatred to children. These men need our help. They know so much about religion, but what could they know of peace? I’m sure the college in Cairo has no department of Peace Studies. That would only be a Canadian thing.

Some of the mullahs will need the help of Canadian elders in the mosque to teach them that we have suffered through two world wars, and so we have learned two things, two things for sure: 
Hatred never leads to peace, 
and, 
every young man who ever terrorized, every Adolf, Benito or Hideki, first started with a feeling of hatred for some one or some group.

If every elder would stomp on every match of hatred, then the mosque would never burn down.


Sean Crawford
October
Alberta
2017

Footnotes:
~The young men above, of course, are Hitler, Mussolini and Tojo.

~After using a search engine, on my 11 inch laptop, the first page of results for university peace studies is all Canadian institutions. 

~Then again, maybe our elders are as helpless as peaceful teens at my old school, where we had a problem with vandalism. Our teachers once asked, “Imagine you saw a student hatefully kicking in a door. Wouldn’t you stop him?” We were silent, because we didn’t know how to tell our teachers, “No, don’t be silly.”

Maybe I’m being silly to think that mosque elders in Canada would dare tell a mullah to stop preaching hatred. 
Because of the recent attack, I can’t go ask, not until things calm down.  

Well, dear reader, any ideas?

Thursday, September 28, 2017

Edward and the Ghost

essaysbysean.blogspot.com

Some Free Fall Fiction

Hello Reader,
Got abuse?

Writer’s note: I’ve said before that I’m in a weekly Free Fall writing group (Friday, 10 to noon, new writers welcome) We have a “prompt” and then we all create fast, trying not to edit as we go. Then it’s fun to read aloud.

prompt- Magic pumpkin

What Edward liked was his magic pumpkin. A gypsy had given it to him, after he had helped her across the street. And shielded her from mud splash from a passing carriage.  And fought off a pair of dogs who had tried to switch from chasing the carriage to attacking the billowing skirts of the gypsy.

So now he had a magic pumpkin. But not to eat. Gentlemen don’t eat pumpkins. No, to hollow out and carve in two eyes, a nose and a mouth. And then to put in a fragrant gypsy candle. That he paid for, at a booth at the fair.

During rainy October evenings, when action seems to be dampened down, spirits drenched under rains, and falling black shadows under wet slimy black trees, then he was so happy to be inside with his pumpkin, staring into the flame, and making his plans. His dreams. His daydreams.

His hands were cold, and nobody loved him. But in the flame burned hope. He was going to do good deeds. Next season, after the ground firmed up, he would ride a horse to see the Outer Hebrides. He would. He could. Or he could move lots of rocks and gravel into that stupid muddy part of the lane, so old ladies wouldn’t get their skirts dirty. He could. 

Yes, he could stare at that magic flame for a long time, feeling a kinder, better Edward. Or maybe, it truth, he was getting kinder for longer intervals, and feeling a fierce temper for shorter intervals.

One day the Indian from Bombay, not the other one, was delivering his milk and the stupid boy put the milk where it could be kicked over. And Edward, sure enough, kicked it.

(When reading aloud: “I was going to write that he threw his pumpkin in a rage and so he broke his own pumpkin”)


prompt- The witching hour

So there’s this guy. A witch? An abuser in hiding human clothing? With laces up his front?

What you do is send him a card from his secret admirer: “Meet me in the graveyard at 10 p. m.”

And so Edward received a card. And so, after applying his moustache wax just so, he strode off one night to the graveyard. Arriving on time, as befits a gentleman.

He walked through the wrought iron fence, wended his way among the headstones, and there, in the middle of the grave yard, was a ghost. Edward stopped, an appropriate distance away. Far enough to run, far enough that he didn’t have to look too closely at this apparition. Edward had never seen a ghost, but every one knew they looked like a draped bed sheet. And this one did too. With two big dark eyes. Some ghosts talk.

Edward perched across a convenient headstone and regarded the spectre.
“Hello.” Silence.
“Hello,” he said again. Silence. “I am not afraid. Oh I say, can you talk?”

And it spoke. “Eeedwaard. Are you a good man, Edward?”

“I am a gentleman… Dash it, but we gentlemen aren’t all good.”
“Temmmperr…”

“Yes, I can have a temper. But not usually, I try to be good, I do good deeds, I help Miss Marpole across the street.”

“Temmperr” 

“Oh, dash it, but I do lose control… And then I justify it, by trying to look down on the person. And I know it’s beneath me.”

Silence.

“And then I get ashamed.”


prompt- simultaneously

Edward regarded the spirit.
“Who are you?” he asked.

“Keeevin. I was Kevin in another life.”

“I knew a Kevin. I never talk to him now.”

Man and ghost looked at each other. The ghost spoke first.
“Youuu won’t talk to aaanyone beyond the grave.”

Edward sighed. Silence.
“That’s true,” he said at last. “I should probably talk to Kevin now. I really should.”

The ghost was silent.

“If I were a good man… I would look for the good in Kevin… And, core blimey, I would try to seem positive. As the reverend says… I would show the light of the lamb…”

Wind rustled the trees.
“I would look for the good and project the light.”

The wind rushed and the ghost spoke a lonely word, “Ohhh.”
“Ghost, is that… easy? To keep projecting, and seeing? To hold that heart in place?
Silence.

“Ghost, I want to try. I dare say, on this side of the grave, I want to hold onto my good heart, and pray for Kevin, pray that he may have a good life like me, and be equal to me, equal to all of God’s children.

Edward looked down at his feet. 
“I have been arrogant. That’s where the temper comes from.” His voice dropped, and he continued “Who am I to judge? Am I afraid of Kevin thinking I am not a gentlemen? Where did I make the connection between good fortune and judging? And does poor Kevin think that a person who yells in a temper is somehow entitled to judge?”

Edward lifted his eyes to where the ghost had been. 
“I am mortal. Just a man.”

But the ghost was gone, and the wind rushed by unheeding of the tableau below.

Late that night, as the bell tower chimed, and one day gave way to the next in the darkness, a different man walked home, with the name of Edward, a gentleman of common humanity.



Sean Crawford
Calgary
September
2017

Footnotes:
~Two of the writers that day laughed at how they were channeling each other: They both wrote about motherhood, as in simultaneously having to multi-task, trying to find pumpkins at the cheaper rates but not sold out yet, with kids too young to be trusted with knives. The “magic pumpkin,” for one mother, after getting desperate near Hallowe’en, was found in her own back yard where she thought she had only planted squash, and then calling her son to come see.

~I read once where someone who had an “abuse people” problem seemingly didn’t know what abuse was, and was told, “Anything that’s not nurturing is abusive.” Simple and true.



Wednesday, September 20, 2017

I Met a Muslim in London

essaysbysean.blogspot.com

Hello Reader,
Got Muslims?

Writer’s note: This was composed on my returning aircraft, the day before the morning of the fourth terror attack of 2017 in Britain. Despite the seriousness of the bomb on a commuter train, I am not going to grim down my essay. If we can’t stay cheerful, then the terrorists have won. I do wish I’d stayed another week, to talk about it.


They say the important part of traveling is meeting the people. 

As a tourist staying in “Central London,” where 90 per cent of the London tourist attractions are located, I could see by their outfit that lots people walking around were Muslims. Not assimilated. Not “European Muslims” from the Muslim areas (The Balkans) of southeast Europe. Now, what I could not discern, based on their dress and speech, was whether in their own minds they felt integrated, not segregated. But I doubted it: For example, a block away from my hotel, near Paddington Station, (Yes, there’s a statue of the bear) was a barbershop: On the sidewalk was a sandwich board, listing features and prices, entirely in some Muslim language. Even the prices. In the heart of London. 

If I wanted to ask any Muslims if they agreed with American Muslims that Islam means peace, well, how was I to meet one? Because of their religion, I wasn’t exactly going to meet a fellow in an authentic British pub.

There was no pub in my cozy hotel. How cozy was it? The only lift was so small, in width, that if I stood with my hands on my waist then my elbows touched the walls. Lengthwise,  between the two sets of doors, I could stand with one hand on my waist, stretch the other arm the length of the cage, and my fingers would be curled touching the other door. And I’m a small guy. Down at the cozy reception counter the night clerk was a pleasant man. I practised my “be friendly and lighten your brother’s load” ethic by always saying hello when I came in for the night and announcing what tourist attraction I had seen that day. 

One evening I followed a moped delivery man—they have a huge box behind their seat—to the sidewalk in front of my hotel.  I entered, and was leaning my elbow on the reception counter when he came in. He had an extra pizza, he said, giving it to the night clerk. It is vegetarian. Good, said the clerk, so I can eat it. He looked at me. 

“Do you want a piece?” I did. 

I piped up, “If it’s vegetarian then you can be safe that it’s halal, (kosher) no pork.” I had just discovered the word “halal” the previous night, after finding a book at an Oxfam used bookstore, by a Muslim girl who joins the British army. (Yes, I will read books when I’m on vacation—but I don’t lie on the beach with Daniel Steele) The clerk knew how to pronounce “halal,” saying, “Halal food means how it was butchered, it’s not just pork.”

I wondered if he had time to talk. He said, “If you want to know anything about Muslims you can ask me, I’m Muslim.”

“Great! You can save me a trip. Because otherwise I was going to hike over to a building near the Edgeware tube station. Up on the third floor is a big sign you can see from the sidewalk, for the Arab Human Rights Office… Now I can just ask you.”

Because we were talking so thick and fast, I must confess I didn’t get around to asking such naive questions as, “Do the European and Arab Muslims think American Muslims are traitors to Islam for believing in peace, and for not wearing Burkas the way they do in London?” Besides, I already knew the answers. 

We got into religion before we talked any politics. We both follow an “Abrahamic religion.” Muslims believe that Jesus was a prophet, a major one, and to my hotel friend, “It’s an abomination!” to say that Jesus is the son of God. We shared our strong feelings in our discussion of religion, but I won’t repeat here any confidences that might horrify you. Except—as I put it, we both don’t believe in God having two arms, two legs and a head. And, as my new friend added with distaste, no human bodily functions to our God. Yup.

My hotel friend, who lives in “North London,” father of two girls, whom he is teaching to be able to think for themselves, was emphatic: A believer has to believe in the Koran, (Quran) in every page or none of it. I told him of a public thing I had read about, where leaders of Muslims and Christians had met to discuss things. The Muslims had said they had to go totally by the Koran, so that was that. How sad. If they had met on stage, and if I had been in the audience, and if there had been lineups to ask questions at a microphone, then I would have asked the Muslim leaders whether they knew the concept of “Even the Devil can quote scriptures.” More precisely: If the Bible has a scripture to kill witches, then would Christian leaders have to quote it, and follow it? 

My fellow monotheist told me his judgment of westerners, and then explained that for Islam you have to understand the dates of the Koran pages, because they contradict each other. He said Arab words can sometimes have ten different meanings. He said, too, that the Koran is written in classical Arabic, which is not modern Arabic, so again a lot of people don’t know. So yes, there’s a passage that says to kill unbelievers, (Maybe he said it’s “kill them all on sight,” I forget) but you don’t have to go by that. The terrorists go by such a passage, but they don’t know anything about it. They don’t know the context, and “they can be easily misled.” By “they” he meant the average Muslim in Eurasia.

Easily misled. Which leads us to politics. “How brainwashed are Muslims?" I asked “I know they don’t totally believe their clerics, because the mullahs say that Europe is bad, and western Europe the most satanic of all, yet the mid-east refugees go to Europe, and then they mostly go to western Europe.” My friend was old enough to remember when the leaders in his country were saying that western education was bad, that girls didn’t even need an education, were saying so “quite passionately”… yet they were sending their own children to high class private Catholic schools! “Leaders are corrupt” he said. By “leaders” he meant politicians too, not just clerics.

I have read all the books of that Muslim Dutch Member of Parliament. So I was not surprised when this intelligent devout Muslim hotel worker was disgusted with how the European nations treated Muslim immigrants, saying to me, “They encouraged them to segregate, saying ‘come to this country and you will have your own… keep your own… etc. etc.’” He was not surprised at all that they would (clasping his hands to illustrate) “clumped together.” We shared our disgust.

I told him when I was a boy the “melting pot” model meant you wanted to be American, and would be ashamed of being unAmerican, but somehow, when I wasn’t looking, that had changed. This I knew from looking at a book sold in a Canadian college bookstore for U.S. “dormitory monitors,” or “residence advisors” a paid position, where older students in the dorms look after the freshmen. This book advised (no doubt for in case the monitor came from a mono-culture small town) that Americans now believe in pluralism… I don’t know when things changed. Presumably, now they prefer to have little pots of pluralism in perpetuity. 

…And so, that was how I met and talked with a real live Muslim in London…

… As for clumping, “30 minutes out from central London” (by the underground train) according to their web site, is the Who Shop, selling Doctor Who official BBC merchandise. I just had to make the pilgrimage. 

So I took the tube to Upton Park station. Before going to the shop, I hiked for about 15 minutes in the opposite direction, along a main road, just to see what I could see. Ever seen one of those ethnic stores at a flea market or something, and of course there’s only one, and it’s empty, and you wonder how they stay in business? Indeed. Empty of customers was a store for South Asian clothing, then another, and another… for fifteen minutes. How did they stay in business, so empty, competing with each other? By people clumping, that’s how. Along the way I passed a green Muslim “community centre.” Not a temple.

My London friend had asked with displeasure why Americans don’t let everybody in, because he thought they should have a wider door policy; I told him the quotas are to aide integration. I could have simply used his words, “So people don’t clump.” I remember, as a young man, walking over and sitting with a group of “Italian” young male classmates, and one said, “But you’re not Italian.” Being quick, I answered “But last night I had pizza!” In other words, we were both joking. North Americans, on the whole, don’t believe in living like the folks in the movie Bend it Like Beckham. (I saw the DVD to prepare for my holiday) But immigrants will believe, if their surrounding society of doesn’t know any better.

… I regret that, while on vacation, I didn’t meet any real live “bleeding heart European liberals.” But I never seem to stumble over them in the bar.


Sean Crawford
Back in Allah’s own country
September
2017

Footnotes of the Doctor Who sort:
(Deleted for some future post)
Footnotes:
~The above mentioned book is by Azi Ahmed called Worlds Apart. (2015) The cover shows her face only one quarter normal, one quarter concealed by a jet black cloth mask, and by half of her face in dark camouflage paint at night. 
The army as scary? Maybe to a civilian. An innocent civilian prairie girl, a neighbour in my condominium, who had been to London, told me the London ladies in big black burkas, with a little flapping triangle over their faces, look scary too.

~People overseas regard North Americans as optimistic, even naive, in their trusting of others and their “can-do” spirit. Hollywood movies, say the Europeans, are more prone to happy endings, and to individuals making a difference. 

Perhaps it was in this spirit a certain American movie was made. It’s a romantic comedy, where an affectionate East Indian mother is fine with her son being friends with all sorts of races, religions and creeds, specifically all sorts of Indians such as Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims. And a blond boy too, on whom the mother paints a red spot. Most of the movie takes place where the young men hang around together in college, with the son chasing an “Indian” (American) girl. Once he sticks his foot in his mouth by saying (I forget) to the girl he he is chasing something like, “That’s as boring as pornography dragged out to the length of a Bollywood movie”  His friend later (I forget) says, “You idiot! Now she knows you don’t like Bollywood, and you watch porn!”

So what this movie, so unlike the Beckham one, shows is that Americans don’t always believe in being in a pluralist bubble, with a snobbish dislike and disapproval of their neighbours. Too bad I forget the title. I saw it at the Plaza.