Racism – My Story

Shanta-with-braces

This is what I looked at in Grade 7. Taken the day I got my braces.

Thanks to Dan Levy for his post on racism the other day. I’m reminded of my story from 20 years ago and though I should tell it. It’s a shame that we have such stories, but how do we know unless we speak up and educate?

I am of mixed race; half East Indian and half British, resulting in an olive complexion making me look more Italian or Spanish.  We lived in a predominantly white neighbourhood, though it has changed quite a bit since then. I’d never experienced any sort of racism until this.

When I was in Grade 7, my locker was located across the hall from a class of Grade 8 students. One day, a boy from across the hall, for no apparent reason, decided to call me a “Paki”. I didn’t know what it meant. I’m not Pakistani (which is the proper term), so I didn’t think anything of it.

No idea why, but I told my father one day in conversation. He looked mortified and then gave me the best advice: go to the Principal’s office. So, I did.

Mr. MacGillivray was amazing. I told him everything and he was not going to tolerate it. He explained that he would call the boy to his office and explain that this behaviour would not be tolerated. If he did it again, he would be suspended for a minimum of 2 days.  Once this was explained, I would be called down to the office and he would have to apologize. It played out exactly as he described it within a couple of days and he never did it again…but others did.

Over the two years I was at this school, a total of eight boys all pulled the same stunt, but never twice. I did tell my close friends, but never announced it to the world that this was going on, but obviously word was getting around. I was able to keep it under wraps pretty well, until one of the last ones, a boy in my class. He was called down to the principal’s office and I was called shortly thereafter. The rest of the kids in my class put two and two together and realized that we were there for the same reason. I came under fire for the very things I suspected I would be attacked with:

  1. “It’s nothing!”
  2. “You’re not even Pakistani, so why do you care?”
  3. “Do you have to be such a tattle tale?”

The answers were simple:

  1. Yes, it is something.
  2. Yes, I do care.
  3. Yes, I do have to say something.

The fact that they never did it again, tells me that they are cowards and that’s what bullies are: COWARDS.

They all did to not because they believed in what they were saying, but figured I would keep quite about it and I have to believe that they really didn’t understand the full weight of what they were doing. I think they were young and just trying to look cool. If they truly believed in what they said, it wouldn’t have stopped at name calling…once.

In closing: Don’t keep quiet. Speak to someone you trust, whether at school or at work. Don’t let it fester and don’t let bullies get away with it. If you feel like you are being discriminated against, regardless of whether it is for the colour of your skin, sexual preference, religion, gender or any other possible reason. Don’t think it’s small, they are the ones with small minds.

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Grab a sentence from the nearest…

Another challenge from the #PostADay2011: Grab a sentence from the nearest….

QI: The Noticeably Stouter Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

QI: The Noticeably Stouter Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson

The book I picked randomly from my bookshelf was: The Noticeably Stouter Book of General Ignorance by John Lloyd & John Mitchinson based on the successful British series, QI with Stephen Fry (@StephenFry on Twitter). I picked it up in England two years ago on a trip with my mother.

I opened it to page 203. Under “What’s the ‘sport of kings’?”

The third paragraph, second sentance is: “Everyone from ryalty to schoolboys joined in: there were even cockpits in the palace of Westminster and on Downing Street.”

The “bonus” from this challenge post was to come up with the next sentence that is completely unrelated. The only thing I can say is that Stephen Fry would certainly come up with something better than I could ever do.

The One That Got Away

I’m sure we all have stories about “The One That Got Away”. It’s more likely, the one we let slip through our fingers. I have one of those stories…and in light of Valentine’s Day, I hope you never let one slip through your fingers that shouldn’t.

In my last year at high school, I started using one of those dating phone lines. Don’t remember which one and it doesn’t matter. I wasn’t sure if it would lead to anything and probably thought this was just a good way to make the guy I liked jealous. I figured that the object of my affections didn’t care for me enough to just see me, so I would see what else was out there. Started talking to this one guy with a nickname of “Taz”. We chatted on the phone for hours on end, sometimes all night until dawn. He was a really sweet guy.

One night, we decide to meet. He lived in Brampton and I lived in Toronto. It being fairly late at night, neither one with a car and the GO Buses had stopped running, it was unlikely that this was going to happen. He hops in a cab and pays $50 to meet me at Yonge & Bloor Station.

I hadn’t told him what I was wearing and before the internet, it wasn’t easy to see what each other looked like. He told me what his jacket looked like and had to hope that I wouldn’t leave him stranded there. I walked passed him and said his nickname. He turned around and there I was. We walked down to an all night dessert place and talked for hours. Then we went back to my place and spent the night together. He even gave me the poem he’d written for me and read to me over the phone hours before. I gave him an origami japanese crane.

The next day, I felt awful about it. Not that I didn’t like him and that he wasn’t a nice guy, but I thought “This isn’t fair to him. I don’t ‘love’ him. I should stop it.” I got on the phone that night to him and started to break it off. As I’m on the phone to him, the other guy rings in on call waiting. He’s decided that I’m the one for him and that he wants to be with me. I’m over the moon. I switch back to the other line and finish telling him that it’s over. I didn’t do it on purpose, I was just confused.

A few days later the other guy decided he didn’t want to be tied down and I finished it with him. ‘Taz’ and I still talked, but it wasn’t the same and it became less frequent. We got on with our lives and I called him up about a year later, just to see how he was doing. He was dating another girl by this time and she seemed very sweet. I got a call from her one day asking if I’d come up for a visit to Brampton and surprise him for his birthday. He was working at a local pub and we went to meet him there after she met me at the bus station. I made a japanese crane and told her to take it in to him. He’d know what it was. He did and he was truly surprised. So was I…at how much I think I cared for him. But he was taken now and I couldn’t ruin that for him. We had a great time that night and I crashed at their place.

The next day, the girlfriend had to go to work so he was going to take me back to the bus station. We were hanging out at the apartment and while we were playing around, he kissed me. Both of us knew it wasn’t right. He couldn’t do that to his girlfriend and I couldn’t screw up his chance at being happy after I’d broken his heart already once. He confessed to her about it and she never let me speak to him again. Can’t say that I blame her.

He did eventually marry her and within a year, they were separated/divorced. Turns out she cheated on him and took him to the cleaners. He got another girlfriend after that and I’m sure there were more, but then I lost track of him.

I started looking him up on the net and dialling old phone numbers, but nothing. I did actually find him finally just last year on Facebook and he is happily married with children. But for the longest time, I wondered if something could have been. I even still have the paper with the poem on it. Might even post it someday…

I AM Bridget Jones

I almost forgot how much I love the movie “Bridget Jones’s Diary”. Every year around this time, I think I need to watch it, make it an annual occurence. What’s on TV tonight? Whadyaknow…BRIDGET!

So, I pour a glas of red in true Brig fashion, and take pen to paper to start the year off right. Also, settling in with a salad after the monstrous leftover turkey dinner for lunch. Will follow up with mandarin oranges for dessert.

Right.

Smokes: 0

Weight: <undisclosed>

My life is somewhat like Bridget Jones. Here are some examples:

  1. Both need to lose weight.
  2. Both are “spinsters”.
  3. Both live in our own apartments/flats.
  4. Both love red wine.
  5. Both have good close friends that we can call on for a good pow-wow/drink-up.
  6. Both need new jobs (though I didn’t sleep w/boss at last job).
  7. Though I haven’t done it yet, pondering dinner party for close friends for birthday next month (Take note and be forewarned!) Must look up recipe for blue soup.

Some differences however:

  1. I don’t live in the UK.
  2. I don’t smoke (anymore).
  3. Most of my friends aren’t smug married couples, but are wonderful singletons like me.
  4. Definitely don’t have two men fighting in the street over me.
  5. And unfortunately, don’t have Mark D’Arcy/Colin Firth chasing after me because he “likes me just the way I am”.

Have actually found myself taking pen in hand more frequently as of late, literally. Quite possibly because I’ve had trouble sitting in fron of computer due to back pain lately. Have even found myself turning in at a reasonable hour with a good book under candlelight. When I enter my apartment, I will constantly say: “Hi Honey, I’m home! Oh yeah, I live alone.” It’s a homage to Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman, but very fitting here.

Some goals for the new year:

  1. Lose weight. Might be difficult with back injury, but willing to try even if I have to become a rabbit.
  2. Blog at least once a week. Great, have met quota this week.
  3. Will find dream job
  4. Will have emotionally stable relationship with someone who is not an emotional fuckwit. Doesn’t have to be permanent, but just…normal.
  5. Receive flowers at least once this year from a member of the opposite sex (sorry, Gwen).

Sounds like a lot and a little to ask for for the coming year. Given the ups and downs of the past year, I think I deserve a little normalcy.

This is Bridget Jones…I mean…Shanta Nathwani for Sit Up Britain…dammit…Toronto. Now, back to the studio!

My Prom Date

Last night I was told that the Retro Road Show for June is going to be Prom Night. I thought I would honour the day by reviving one of my old posts. Still relevant, but thought you all might enjoy.

I couldn’t find the whole article, but figured that I would at least pull this. I have it somewhere in actual print, and I’ll take another look some time. For now, this will have to do. I’ve heard that he’s been released, but luckily I haven’t found him.

Toronto Star, October 4, 2003, Page A02: Daniel Greig had been warned to stay away from guns as one of the terms of his parole after a previous infraction. Even so, Greig acquired a six-shot, .44-calibre Smith & Wesson revolver, a .45-calibre Glock semi-automatic pistol, a .45-calibre Heckler & Koch semi-automatic pistol, a 12-gauge Franchi pump-action shotgun with a pistol grip and a collapsible stock and a M16, a .223-calibre Colt semi-automatic assault rifle. When Toronto police discovered his arsenal, the guns were fully loaded. Rounds were chambered and ready to be fired in the semi-automatic weapons and the shotgun. Justice Archie Campbell sent Mr. Greig away for what will amount to a total of 41/2 years.

Is this a surprise to anyone?

I flew on Air Canada this past week.  Now I remember why I don’t.  The only reason I did it this time was using my father’s points. 

I was flying with my brother who frequently needs to get up during a flight which would drive anyone nutty, so he needs an aisle seat.  I booked our seats on a plane that only had two on either side, so no problem, even though I indicated he needed the aisle.  A few days before the flight, they must have changed the plane, but not the seating, because now we’re window and centre seats.  I went to the check-in desk and had them change it, which they did pretty easily, but it was still a pain since I couldn’t take advantage of the online booking, self-service or any of the other services they offer to supposedly make my life easier and reduce their costs. Guess what? You didn’t save a thing with me on that one.

On the way home, I tried to call ahead to make the change so we didn’t have to do it in the morning.  Plus, Ravi was paranoid about not getting it and reminded me at least three times that day that I had to make the call.  Upon so doing, I was put on hold without speaking to a living soul for 40 minutes! I finally gave up.  My uncle wondered what I would do.  Simple. I would cause such a PR nightmare for them that the cost of cleaning up the mess would outweigh the cost of displacing someone from their aisle seat.  Even if I didn’t, Ravi would.  When we got our tickets, they couldn’t give the aisle seat.  We would have to wait for the flight to close and then they would see what they could do at the gate.  We waited an hour for the gate desk to open and Ravi is nervous as hell.  They were again able to accommodate, thankfully. It just seems stupid that they put into place all these ways to make our lives more simple and flexible, yet they could have avoided it all if they had just told me in advance that they changed the plane.

This just backs up my thoughts from a few weeks ago when they came to my school to sponsor a recruitment for all the business students.  The room was packed to an hour long presentation by three representatives from Air Canada to promote their Grad Program.  Fantastic! There were at least 60 people in the room plus the standing room only. The presentation was good enough, but when asked how many positions were available, the answer: 10. Not in the school, not in the province, not in the discipline of study. Ten overall.  So let me understand your logic: You send three people around the country to sponsor and present at these job fairs and you’re only hiring 10 people in September for 18 months. I’m surprised that no one else got up and left in disgust.  For the amount of money that they are spending visiting all of these universities for half a day each, they probably could have hired another 10 or more.

In today’s society where there is so much technology available to make the same information to the same people in less time, less money and more efficiently, it surprises me that they spent that kind of money to hire just 10 graduates.  And then they wonder why they are in financial trouble?

Air Canada’s problems pile up

The airline’s problems include funding a pension deficit

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By TantienHime Posted in Uncategorized Tagged

"Don’t Blink"

I stumbled upon this while using my new browser, Flock, and looking for another video that a friend recommended.  How can I resist “Ninja” and “Doctor Who” in the same search result??? It’s from one of the spookiest episodes that I’ve seen.  Really good stuff.

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