American Hindus – Adventures of a WASH (White Anglo Saxon Hindu)

There are those embodied jivas that like to say it is impossible for a Canadian prairie farmer raised on meat, fresh milk, potatoes, and a dash of atheism to become a Hindu. Fact of the matter is that the opposite is more unlikely. Nah, that’s entirely impossible. How could some guy from Varanasi, Kolkata, Madurai, or Pune survive farming in this brutally cold land we call Canada? He wouldn’t even know enough to chew gum on the coldest days just to prevent frostbite of the cheeks. The closest thing you might get is a guy named Patel who can speak Kannada owning a motel on some lonely desolate prairie road – the only Indian in town – the only Indian for 100 miles, unless you’re so outdated you still call First Nations peoples after that sub-continent west of China, incorrectly named the same. 

Of course the Sikhs are an exceptional exception. Those guys came from the Punjab. Farming, maybe not the cold Saskatchewan variety, is in their blood. 
But you don’t hear Canadian farmers saying, “You have to be born an atheist Canadian farmer in order to be one.” In fairness, the likelihood of Hindus insisting any more is diminishing just as the diva light slowly burns out from its oil bowl gets shallow. This is because the WASHes numbers are increasing. Two at a time, twice a year. The Indian Hindus (not to mention the Fijians, Trinidadians, and so many others thanks to British Imperialism and sugar) are getting a bit used to us. Maybe more than 2 if you count the temporary visitors to this cult of dharma. It’s gotten so bad that some of us even fit in, looking like we’re regulars at the local mandir – except in the eyes of the new guys from the Motherland. To them we don’t belong and the oft answered questions might arise again: “So how did you get interested in this?” 
I give a two second blank stare response with thoughts, “Not this again,” but then reconsider since it’s an honest question from an honest looking man. Then again, all Hindus look honest … another stereotype I’ve developed from reading too much ethical scripture, and assuming others have as well. 


“Well, it’s a long story,” I begin, hoping this man has little time to spare. But unfortunately he appears interested – either that or I can’t decode the Indian body language. All those variations of head nods do get confusing. On the bare Canadian prairie, Mother only had one version – horizontally back and forth accompanied by a stare. It meant, “That’s not really your wisest idea.” 


I’m hungry for the Sunday rice and curry over in the cultural hall, so I go with, “Let’s just say it was good luck.” What I really mean is it was good karma, but that might sound pretentious. He’s now grasping the body language that I’m really not into the explanation. Besides that, my nose has an invisible rope attached to it – the ancient pull of garam masala.



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                   The above post was submitted by  Jai Murugan 


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