April 8 – he’s Bollywood, I’m Hollywood

258/365 – people to thank who have had an impact on me.  I’ve said it before and I’m saying it again, other than my skin colour, I’m probably the least “Indian” person you would come across.  I am often surprised when others ask me questions related to my ethnicity because I’m the last person who knows the answers but I do understand their motivations.  I have also mentioned in passing that I have shied away from other Indians lest I be judged based on my lack of knowledge in what should be our commonality.  For the last couple of years, I’ve ventured into the staffroom at work where very few staff are found.  You are lucky if there are more than two or three people there on any given lunch hour.  Some days I just need to escape my classroom and get some adult conversation going.  The one constant in the staffroom is another teacher – Amarinder.  At first, I didn’t really have anything to say to him – I mean the only thing that connected us was teaching – but he started up conversations and over the years, I have enjoyed talking to him about “our” Indian culture.  He is the very antithesis of me – he has an accent, is very formal in dress, reserved in emotion, conservative in several ways but open in others.  The students love him and I see him stop in the halls to talk to them and they high-five him (perhaps, I’m more the reserved one in that respect as I don’t really engage in the halls and save that for my classroom).  Amarinder compliments me every single time he sees me and tells me how my relative ease and carefree style is what he should adopt which does wonders for my ego but I too have learned things from him.  He has given me advice on dealing with aging parents and taking pride in being Indian but being Indian in my own way – very few Indians have ever said that to me and about me and I can say that that is a very important thing for me – to be me but in my own way.  Yes, we are complete opposites but our ethnicity does bring out commonalities and I do appreciate the camaraderie that we have developed over the years during lunch.  Here’s to you Mr Bollywood from Mr Hollywood – sat sri akal!

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