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Location: Muscat, Oman/ Bangalore, India

Round Peg....in a square hole. That describes me! All my life I have never quite fit in ... now I have just given up trying to live up to the expectations of the square hole or trying to find a round one!

Friday, December 29, 2006

Snapshots from the Middle East: Ours vs the rest!

‘Bakrid’ is round the corner and like last year the ‘bakri’ (goat in Hindi) is back at the villa next door.

I wince every time I hear it bleat and thank my stars we have a road that separates our house from theirs. I thank my stars even more because they slaughter the poor animal in the driveway away from the road and our house. The house that flanks the driveway where they make their kill houses Indians, vegetarians most probably. I wonder how they cope with what must be a horrible and gruesome sight.

I have known many Muslims in India and quite honestly its only now that I am aware they are Muslims. Back then they were just friends, that they were Muslims hardly registered.

Not one of my Muslims friends ever slaughtered a goat in their house. I am sure it is illegal to slaughter at home but even if it was legal I cannot imagine any of my friends picking up an axe or whatever and calmly or gleefully proceeding to kill a terrified and helpless animal.

Not a single Muslim friend wears a veil or a burkha. In India, burkha clad women are seen mostly in predominantly Muslims areas that are poor and decrepit. Well educated and affluent Muslims do not wear the veil.

And I do not know of a single Muslim in India that has multiple wives. Sure there are Muslims with four wives but almost never from the educated or affluent class.

Names like Talal, Hanadi, Suad, Tamim, Haitham, Salwa are all Middle Eastern. I have never come across these names in India. Rafiq is quite a common name in India but in Qatar Rafiq is a derogatory term used to address people lower than oneself in social standing.

So is the Indian middle class Muslim different from her counter part in the Middle East?

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