Thursday, February 4, 2016


A technician came home yesterday to service our water purifier gadget. He finished his work and while he was leaving, I asked for his name. He said 'Latheef, I am a muslim' and was looking at me. It took sometime to understand that he was waiting for my reaction after saying that he was a muslim. I just said 'it is OK. There is no need to say that you are a muslim. Your work was good'. He left. 

Later I was wondering how many muslim youth must be feeling like him...reluctant to utter their names. It is not going to change in the future. 

Until a few years back we never felt threatened by them.  We were shopping in 'Bhaai kadai'...bhaai means muslim in colloquial Tamil language (muslim's small shops which sold provisions).   We were addressing them as 'bhaai' and talked to them normally.  I had a muslim neighbour long back.  They were Hyderabad muslims.  Very educated family.  They were very close to me.  I learnt to pronounce urdu words properly from the lady! But even for them it was very difficult to shift to a new house when their landlord asked them to vacate the current house since he was retiring and wanted to come and stay in his house in Chennai from Kerala.  Later on he had to go to court to vacate them.  These people got a stay order.  They never left the house for a few more years.  It was an independent house with lot of space around in a prominent area. Then I lost touch with them.  

A neighbour of mine here, is reluctant to let out her flat for muslims fearing problems in the future.   

Can muslims, normal, soft natured muslims, be comfortable to live here or anywhere else without people looking at them in a 'different' way?  Sometimes I feel sorry for them, esp. for people whose children go to normal schools and are intelligent/educated.


Bikramjit Singh Mann said...

Very thoughtful .. I think a few handful are letting everyone down and blemishing them.. with all that is going on around the world it has become easier to look at them with a suspiscious eye..

the very first friend i had when i came to uk was a muslim , and whenever we meet it has never come to mind of what is going on because he is such a good person ..


Sandhya said...

BIKRAMJIT SINGH MANN: Yours is the first comment, thank you, Bikram!

Yes, because of a few people all others are treated at par with them. I seem to give more respect to them when I talk to them nowadays. I had a couple of friends when I was in Hosur also. They used to come home often like all others and we never had any problem. This was around 20-25 years back. It has changed now, I feel.

Usha Pisharody said...

So sad really, how racist we are. The most recent incident in Banglore is underscoring it again. I do hope we will live up to our secular status sometime. Sometime.

Shail Mohan said...

Really sad. I have also notice how Muslim friends on Facebook are forced to go on the defensive each time some atrocity happens somewhere in the world. :(

sm said...

thoughtful realistic post situation is same everywhere
regarding giving flat on rent it is very difficult in India to get back the possession of flat from the people who occupy them.

Destination Infinity said...

I've had some good friends who were muslims. But religion never mattered to us as much as the type of person that they were. There are all types of people in all religions and it's silly to discriminate based on religion/community, etc. is what I feel.

Destination Infinity

pallpakk said...

I had a similar experience. I was talking to someone and I asked him, "Neenga thamizha-a?" (Are you Tamil?) and he replied to me, in Tamil, "Ella. Naan Muslim" (No. I am Muslim).

I found this very stark. I immediately pounced on this and said,"I asked only your language not your religion." And he replied again, "Tamil but Muslim".

I have always considered myself to be a liberal and socialistic person. But that man's response left me puzzled. Even though I did not pay attention to religion, it was too significant a fact of his life.

I think that the Madrasa is influencing the common man and instilling a Muslim identity and rules. I hope that liberal Muslims will assert themselves soon.

ram said...

when we compare majority muslims and hindus day to day life,their lifestyle is different from hindus,some muslims are clean and good like some hindus . people have habit of categorising people behavior based on majority population behavior,so they try to avoid muslims in their locality.its like "stay far and mingle and its good for both coz we can't change mindsets of both communities".

most of religions gone ahead with modern world,but most of muslims still use word "insha allah" whenever they speak,this kinda behavior makes them odd. modern world is about keeping religion private but muslims violate this rule. its like when you go to school,students are asked to wear same uniform to not to differentiate,but muslims want to carry religion or represent their religion at every chance.people just don't like this behavior. i don't believe in can expect this "i don't believe in religion" from many hindus and christians but not from many muslims.

again in the end,this world is about majority people behavior not about few.

Sandhya said...

USHA PISHARODY: The whole atmosphere has changed and is changing. When we are not able to tolerate each other (our own people), how can we tolerate people from other countries? The rough nature of our people is bursting out often nowadays.

SHAIL MOHAN: I too have noticed it. Feel very sad.

sm: This was happening in the North for the past many years, now, it has spread here too. Nobody wants to take risk.

DESTINATION INFINITY: Fear has changed people nowadays. It was not definitely like this until some 15-20 years back. We had a magistrate friend and we never felt awkward to go to each others' houses. She knew about our food habits and treated us accordingly. Otherwise, we didn't face any awkwardness. During Navrathri she used to come and have sweets at home.

PALLPAKK: It is sad that the situation is worsening here in India too. They don't feel themselves as one of us even though they don't know Urdu/Hindi but speak Tamil. Some people from Vaaniyambaadi and Aamboor speak very good Tamil during debates. But how do they feel now, I don't know. Times are changing.

RAM: Feel very sad about what is happening in the world now. Will there be changes in the future? Very difficult to say. Without respect for each other, nothing will change.

Jeevan said...

Religion never been a matter to me and I grow up among the Muslim neighbours…. Our native house is adyar (where I lived up to age of 20, before shifted home) was surrounded by Muslim families and us the only Hindu family but our experience with them where so friendly from the generation of our grandparents. All of them call our grandmother Amma, and we call the elders as bhaai which means elder bother. During my kanyakumari visit, I stopped at thirunelveli to meet my musilm friend and we had breakfast at their home and the love and care of his mother was something very special and I could cherish forever. I wish people keep their religion only at personal and never need to exhibit to others… keeping few incidents in mind we can’t deny the universe.

KParthasarathi said...

Wherever a minority lives,not necessarily by religion,it can be by language, country,race,color and even gender,it seeks comfort and security in the numbers by living together as a cluster.One found Tamils, as an example, pronounced in some areas of cities like Kolkata,Delhi and Mumbai though it is gradually disappearing.If the minority merges with majority by not insisting on separate identity except personal beliefs,religion,practices, there is harmony.Society should be inclusive where every member either of majority or minority works for the well being of the society as a whole.
I find Jeevan's comment true as we preferred for decades only a Muslim provision shop for its honesty and quality and a tailor whom we never felt as 'different'.My dad reprimanded me once for buying from some other shop.
The wrong acts of a few should not distort the amity.The members of community,majority or minority, of such few should be watchful to curb such tendencies strictly.

Sandhya said...

JEEVAN: Very nice comment, Jeevan! Hope people continue to be like the friends you have mentioned here. Giving respect and affection to each other solves many problems. We should keep our beliefs inside our house and among just our community and respect others. Thanks for the beautiful comment, Jeevan!

K PARTHASARATHY: What you say is right! People should try to blend with the atmosphere, where they live. As I too had written in my post, we used to buy provisions from a 'bhaai kadai' and didn't feel them as 'different'. Hope it continues...first and foremost, we are Indians...everybody should remember this.

Thank you, Partha Sir!

Zephyr said...

Sometimes apprehension makes people behave defensively, which might not be necessary at all. When I say this, I refer to both communities. This creates distrust and offence and then it becomes a vicious circle.

Sandhya said...

ZEPHYR: Yes, Zephyr! Latheef must have said that he was a muslim because of that, eventhough nobody said anything about his name or our expression changed. We are used to having muslim youth as plumbers and electricians here. They work at home and I offer them tea most of the time...if they work for long time.

As for Pallpakk's comment, they speak Tamil but think that they are different because of their religion! Most of them do not know anyother language. Feel sad.

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