Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Vignettes from Sea - Ocean, Desis

Very quickly I realized that a cruise ship is a gigantic petri dish in which to observe human nature. The challenge is to find the most interesting subjects and be able to observe them over time. Readers of this blog would be aware that I am fascinated by all things desi being desi myself. A displaced desi that has not had the benefit for frequent visits and therefore continued growth in the home culture, ends up turning into a very odd species of desi ( I will refer to this type as Class C of desis)

I am one of those and so is DB. Our kind does not fit anywhere in the desi ecosystem. The second generation desis (referred to as Class A here) assume we are wannabes and treat us with disdain. They tend to have very tight cliques with no room for those unlike themselves. On the other hand, first generation desis (referred to as Class B) who maintain strong connections to home by means of enrollment into the local desi communities, semi-exclusive socialization with other Class Bs, buying homes in desi-fied communities, desi cable television and frequent trips to India, think we are too flaky to be part of their set. There is a long list of qualifications that we do not meet to enter either of these classes that I will not even go into. I have been lucky to run into some odd balls such as DB and myself over the years, but sadly they have been a floating population in my town. While Class C's will gladly welcome any class of desi into their non-existent fold, no upper class desi is remotely interested in our company.

I had to only scan my surroundings on the ship to see that we have a lot of Class B and a scattering of Class A and sadly no Class C desis. My estimation was I would spend the trip without the desis on board acknowledging my existence. I would be stared at quite a bit but no small talk would be made. It would be a miracle if someone smiled at me or God forbid actually talked to me. As desis class up, they learn to give desis such as myself a lot "space" to be. We are free to do as we wish without comment or input from the higher class desis. It is their superior way of tolerating an inherently inferior species. Ten years ago, it bothered me, today I have come to terms with my place in the modern desi caste system. There are distinct advantages to being at the bottom of the totem pole, I have come to realize.

The view from our room is beautiful. Sunlight pours in all day long, the ocean goes from being cerulean blue to a faded indigo. J sits on the ledge of the window to watch the water sometimes. The waves are deceptively small and tranquil. We enjoy going up to the highest deck to feel the wind almost blow us off our feet. There is so much to explore around the ship, we spend our time getting familiar with where we will be spending the week. There is way too much food all times of day. J is in junk food heaven - she has an eight day pass to eat anything she likes without comment from me.

The poolside is the party place almost all times of day. Lot of live music and quite a bit of dancing. It is hard to find a place to sit down because every spot is either taken or strewn with people's belongings. J is not able to enjoy the pool because the salt water bothers her eyes. The captain announces we will be passing Cuba at a certain time - I miss the last part and never find out if and when we did pass it. None of the crew knows anything about it.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

From one C Class Desi to another..
Spot on!!! I was initally puzzled by their responses, and often attributed these feelings to my sensitive nature and ability to track even the most subtle undercurrents in a group. I feel so much better after reading this-- I am not the only oddball.
I often wander into this blog and leave with the feeling that you are a kindred spirit. Have a great trip!
A