This HBCD Can Cook

by Naila Sheikh

This Holland Born Confused Desi...can cook! And clean, and speak Urdu and instantly transform herself into a true Pakistani - disguise herself in the required persona and costume she puts on  for the moment  and within minutes, can shed it all...put on her Nike's and head out to the gym. This all she can do, within a span of a whole day. She knows, you know. 


She knows what you think of her at first glance. She knows the slight judgment that other women of her ethinicity try to rub off, especially those directly from the DesiLands. You know your Desiland, but your upbringing and influence in the West does not entirely define you. It has made you a fusion of both cultures; the best of both worlds. Arrogant much, you think?


Relax. This post isn't a self-booster as much as it is REALITY faced by many of my species and a HUMBLE reminder to all my 'all-rounder go-getters' who face the same challenges or should I say, prejudice against them; the moderate ones, the in-betweens, maybe also perhaps willingly confused by own choice, or rebellious by lifestyle when not adhering to specific religious rule, and therefore compensating the uncovered head in exposure with whats taught at home and instilled in us by dressing modestly and thereby representing ourselves to the best of our ability -- it is sometimes (emphasis on "sometimes" -- meaning: not by all) assumed that we lack in other moral/religious aspects of life. This isn't necessarily said out loud of course, but the assumption made is transparent through attitudes and 'first-time-meet' gazes. They'll keep quiet to observe you when you're happily talking and being spontaneous. They try to figure you out, measure you while you totally overlook the fact that they're taking in your every pore by looking everywhere else rather than your eyes. You definitely feel the disconnect while being friendly, but you still can't detect WHY and nor do you really care to know since you're a free-spirited, non-judgmental, happy person... right?


However, it does hit you when you're finally alone by yourself thinking of how the day went by. In my case, the small moments in which I made an effort to be friendly with someone - with all the craziness of the kids I've dealt with - I made time to talk to the person and look them in the eyes, while still managing to smile and be proper. The feeling of emptiness suddenly creeps up; knowing that in the entirety of our 'supposed' conversation, you had given more of yourself - perhaps that innocent part of yourself where you happen to continually talk with excitement and that twinkle in your eye - and feel as if your excitement isn't appreciated or at least a friendly response isn't fill the conversation with content and give it an ending...forcefully... as the other person is just standing there in all their stubbornness and judgy, stoic posture, NOT moving an inch. Come on, even a simple head nod is sufficient enough to reciprocate respect! Move those muscles, will ya.


Now, I understand that all personalities differ and some people take time to warm up. I completely understand and am fully aware of all different behaviors, especially when meeting for the first time. However, this is not a personality analysis, it is in fact the LACK thereof - the BLOCKAGE of showing any personality due to pre-determined prejudice/attitudes the moment you walk in the room. Therefore, their personality never comes through even during a simple, formal conversation because they are so busy focusing on the appearance/actions/imperfections of that person rather than what the person has to say. It saddens me though. A conversation might be just a few lines of words to some people, but to me, it's my time I've invested in sharing my thoughts, my words with you. So, show some respect and look me in the eye, appreciate and smile. Also, LEARN! There is so much we can learn from one another. And if you gotta look, look and compliment. Or ask, share, criticize, anything! Don't leave the conversation empty & deprived of your thoughts and contributions. I would love to know what YOU think, YOUR response, because no matter how mundane we think our lives are sometimes, women - all sorts of women are incredible, powerful, beautiful and intelligent. 


So, next time when I am invited to your party, be understanding of my humanly capabilities that I can look too, I can hear as well and rest assured...I can cook! 


The title to this post is derived from a scenario, and from other instances in life, in which I was surrounded by some 'Desiland Fanatics' - meaning: those who show claim to be uber-patriotic and assume that I probably don't know / have no skills to match their super patriotic, domesticity powers. I was happy, as I usually am, and was constantly bombarded by the same question at least three times without them getting or wanting to know me, no kidding: "Do you cook?" )