Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Do I look the part!

I have never felt the need for looking the part of something. I always believed what is inside you is what matters. Be it in the office, apart the fact that you've to look decent and in a work place I have never felt the need to look 'corporate'. I haven't felt the need to look like a professional or a anything for that matter. But all these are so negotiable. The maximum that can happen to me if I don't dress corporate for my office is a pink slip. Thats the worst case.

But have you ever felt the need to look a Hindu? Look a Muslim? Look a Christian?

For the first time in my life I felt the need. I am born to a Hindu Brahmin mother and a Latin Catholic Father. I have been baptized, Arun John, very much a Christian but brought up learning to accept all religions and cultures. I have gone to Temples, The Kumbh Mela, Churches, Gurudwaras and quite many places of worship in my so many years. But I've never felt the need to look a Hindu to enter a temple, a Christian to enter a Church. I don't know if there is something called the Hindu look.

Yesterday I went to a temple in Hyderabad, near my office to pray and see the Dussera festive nip in the air. I admit, by regular Indian standards I look more a Muslim than Human. I sport a goatee which is influenced by the rock culture. But this also in branding terms make me look a 'Muslim'. I have never felt a thousand eyes upon me scanning me top to bottom as if I am misfit, an intruder, an outsider. But yesterday when I went to the temple I felt that. I felt each and every one right from the security at the temple entrance to the priest performing the pooja inside the deity room looking at me with scanning eyes placing my religion. I am not a person who frequents a temple or church or any place of worship for that matter; but once in a while when I do I would like to pray properly, have a silent conversation with myself without the fear of being scrutinized.

Is Religion no longer a matter of faith?
Even if I am a terrorist who wants to blow up the entire place if my face is neatly shaved and I look Hindu enough I can go into the temple without the fear of frisking and scanning?
Is there a need for this generalization or branding of Religions?
Is Religion a matter of faith or of identity?

There are many more questions in my mind which isn't so refined to be put down on a blog. But the incident freaked me out. It depressed me to know that I don't have the freedom to look what I want and follow the faith I want. I am more a patriot or nationalist than them I believe. I am a more mature and accommodative person than the octogenarians of middle aged ladies and gentlemen I saw there I believe.

I hope that people someday go back to being accommodative. We Indians have had a very accommodative culture. Religion is a matter of faith and its an extremely personal choice. If not accepting everything, the least we can do it respect it and treat the person as a fellow being rather then branding the person this or that! I am now overcome with a terrible pathos and a feeling of despair around me seeing face to face certain facts I never thought would affect me....


  1. Remember when the Mumbair attacks happened, and Kasab was 'discovered'? One of the things that everyone was saying in not-so-hushed voices was 'But he doesn't look like a terrorist!'. In Hindi movies, the villain is mostly dark and tall and hefty and unbelievably ugly with a mole on his chin. Certain things get stereotyped.

  2. @ Spaceman Spiff
    Very true. If such is the case things are going to be very easy. You just have to look decent or the part to get away with things!
    Generalizations have to be taken more seriously as a topic for thought and discussions!

  3. True. Do you think if terrorists walked into an airport,planning to hijack a plane, looking the part, they'l get past security? Living in H'bad, we're used to seeing muslims now, with the trademark beard and cap. But for an outsider, somebody dressed like that will invoke fear in their minds.

  4. @ Spaceman!
    But still when we think terrorists thats the image which comes to the mind. The stereotyping and generalization is so much so that anybody with a beard could be a possible victim of suspicion!

  5. @Arun: look at it as glass half full, Johnny Gabbar. Beard is a excellent human repellent, it repels 90% of the general populace. The other 10% assume it to be a sign of unparalleled intellect. So why don't you wear a kurta, comb your beard, hang around book stores and land a hot chick? Oxygen, Nitrogen, Religion, are all essential for survival, but in the end, they are all just gas.

  6. @Arun: A good way to overcome insecurity is to indulge in megalomania. You should believe that those Jurassic creatures were actually checking you out. You were able to induce the most sinful sensation in the most pious of places in the most ancient of bodies!
    People should not be branded on the basis of their religion..they should be branded on the basis of who they are..ugly or beautiful.

  7. @AD
    Accepted dude!!! in the end its all opium!
    Waiting for you come back here to walk around with the beard and the kurta!! Jai Club 8!! Drag back here soon1