Saturday, September 30, 2006

MacSikh loves T.O.

Sep. 30, 2006. 10:35 AM

After taking to the streets of Toronto, proud Scotsman Hardeep Singh Kholi pronounces the city "a groovy place."

This, after discovering that Canadians are far better informed about Sikhs than their British cousins, whom he interviewed Rick Mercer-style for a hilarious film screening this weekend at Spinning Wheel, a festival of films by or about Sikhs.

Asked to guess where the jovial, imposing 6-footer — sporting a bright red turban and full beard with jeans and sweater — comes from, a dozen Torontonians deliver answers so heartwarming they made him want to immigrate here.

Some, like construction worker Daniel Rioux, start out amusingly with, "Well, it ain't Poland."
Adds fellow builder Steve Dafonte: "Does it make a difference? We're all brothers from different mothers."

Most of the folks he waylays downtown assume Kholi is Canadian because, well, why wouldn't he be?

Only after hearing his accented English do they deduce that he was raised in Britain, and from his appearance, that somewhere along the line, his ancestors came over from India.

"Because you're brown and you're wearing a turban," says Nadia Amir, a student.
The only thing people get wrong is the accent. The missing clue is the kilt hanging back in Kholi's hotel room, which he dons later for a photograph.

"The reactions are so cool. It's a great tribute to your country. If people everywhere naturally assumed you're one of us and not one of them, how lovely would the world be?" says Kholi, 37, in his thick Glasgow brogue — adding, deadpan: "I always run the risk of sounding like a Whitney Houston lyric."

In Kholi's short film Hardeep Does Race, he puts the same question about his origins to strangers in a town just outside London, England. Unlike Toronto, everyone there assumes he's a foreigner. Only one person gets it right.

"Some people thought I was from Cambodia or Afghanistan," Kholi says with a chuckle, adding that the response surprised him. "I was sort of expecting people to say, `You come from India.'"
The difference in perception is perhaps linked to immigration patterns and a lingering colonialist mentality in the UK, he says. "Even though we (immigrants) have been there for such a long time, in what capacity have we been there? We've been there doing those faceless s--- jobs the locals didn't want to do. They weren't giving us the good jobs they wanted.... So consequently we were in the places they didn't see us, in the places we became one homogenized group. As we're more comfortable and confident as British people, things are changing."

Born in Britain to Sikh parents who emigrated from India in 1965, Kholi was raised in Glasgow, a place he says is not unlike the Punjab, where his parents are from. "They love partying, heavy drinking and eating red meat in Punjab, and similarly in Glasgow. It's a working-class city and that's where Sikhs come from, working-class roots," says Kholi, who graduated from law school and worked for the BBC before following his passion as a filmmaker and comic.

"My mum is still really pissed off I'm not a lawyer, but what can you do?"
Growing up as a turban-wearing Sikh in 1980s rough-and-tumble Glasgow was difficult, he admits, quickly turning that to a joke: "I wasn't a very good-looking child either, which didn't help. I was so ugly when I was born the nurse slapped my mother.

"But for every one of those nutters that try to knock your turban off in the street, there are 10 people who will defend your right to be who you are to the death. People in Glasgow are so passionate about multiculturalism and everyone being together that they will actually stand in front of you in a fight, and that's incredibly touching and uplifting."

Kholi has become a celebrity in the UK after writing, directing and acting in a six-part comedy series, Meet the Magoons, about a Punjabi family running a curry house in Glasgow. It aired on Channel 4 last year. He's writing another sitcom for the BBC, A Fine Living, about traffic wardens.

Sikh on the Street, another film screening at Spinning Wheel, shows that Americans are just as ignorant about Sikhs as the Brits, but sometimes with tragic consequences.

Many Sikhs were attacked in the aftermath of 9/11 by people who thought they were Muslim terrorists, including Balbir Singh Sodhi, shot dead in front of his Arizona gas station.

None of those interviewed for Sikh on the Street knew anything about the heroic Bhagat Singh Thind, who, after serving in the U.S. Army in WWI, was denied citizenship because of his ethnicity by a Supreme Court ruling in 1923. Thind went on to earn a PhD in metaphysics and eventually won citizenship.

Like Kholi, filmmaker Sartaj Singh Dhami asked people on the streets of Washington, D.C., to guess his heritage. Most said Middle Eastern, Persian or Muslim. Some believed Sikhism is a faith of "mystics and wanderers."

Dhami's conclusion?
"Americans don't know jack about Sikhs."

It's up to Sikhs to educate people about their way of life, he adds.
Rather than getting it wrong, people should simply ask, Kholi agrees.

"The crime is not to ask. It's more offensive, surely, when people feel unable to approach us and ask us and question us. I do think political correctness has been a sledgehammer to civil liberties and understanding."

Immigrants and the children of immigrants tend to balance on a "fulcrum of past, present and future," says Kholi, adding that he believes being secure with your roots is the key to moving forward. In seeking understanding from others, he adds, you must also commit to the place where you now call home.

"If we don't engage in contemporary issues and the society we're in, then we have nothing to fall back on when we try to protest our own civil liberties being encroached," he says, pointing to the plight of Muslims in the UK in the era of terrorism.

"The way you change hearts and minds isn't always through the law or force — it's actually by being more charming and inveigling yourself in people's lives."

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

A Tribute

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Tim Ryan Speaks Out Against Bush Administration

Monday, September 18, 2006

The Moghul Mentality Still Exists

Sound Familiar?

We will break up the cross, spill the liquor and impose head tax, then the only thing acceptable is a conversion (to Islam) or (killed by) the sword."

Village elders order trial by boiling oil

NEW DELHI (Reuters) - The leaders of a village in the Indian state of Rajasthan ordered 150 men to dip their hands into boiling oil to prove their innocence after food was stolen from a local school, a newspaper reported Sunday.

In late August the school's principal informed police that rice and wheat had disappeared but no action was taken, the Sunday Express said.

The council, or panchayat, of Ranpur village, 340 km (210 miles) south of state capital Jaipur, then decided to take the law into its own hands.

After 10 days spent trying to identify those responsible, it issued what the paper called the "medieval diktat."

The 150 men from Ranpur and two neighboring hamlets were told to pick a copper ring from a cauldron of boiling oil. The council elders then announced that the 50 who refused the order must be behind the crime. Many are now nursing their burns.

"We would have been ostracized had we refused. Out of fear all of us agreed. This is not the first time this has been done," said one 45-year-old man. He has now testified against the elders, who have been arrested.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Biased Media Coverage

Bravo to the media for once again presenting biased coverage.

Kimveer Gill, a youth of Sikh origin, went on a shooting spree on Wednesday, killing one and injuring 19 before he was shot dead. ...

A young man of Sikh origin, who liked to play internet games about ... 25-year-old clean shaven man, whose name was given as Kimveer Gill, reportedly ...

The Montreal gunman, 25-year old Sikh, who killed one woman and wound 19 other ... after a shootout with police, was a 25-year-old Indian-born Kimveer Gill who ...

Now I would like to ask the media. Why didnt you report the Columbine shooting as the young Christians from Columbine. If the media wanted to be fair, they would report every crime by a christian as "so and so of Christian origin commited this crime.." or they wouldnt bring religion into it at all.

and now come on. Kimveer Gill, wasn't even a practicing Sikh. This is ridiculous.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

SGPC Sewadaars Past and Present

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh,

Over the summer Daas had the chance to meet a descendant of Akali Phoola Singh. This Singh is aged now and I will refer to him as "Baba". Anyways this Baba use to be on the SGPC committee about 30 years ago.

While talking to this Baba the topic of the SGPC came up and we started discussing how things use to be and how they are now. The difference in peoples mentalities is shockingly different now from what it once was on the SGPC.

In the past when a SGPC meeting was called, the members would leave everythign at home, without a second thought of there crops dying or not recieving water and walk/travel 2-3 days to the meeting. Doing sewa with the SGPC met everythign to them, even more than there livelihood. The people of the pind would have so much respect for the SGPC members because they knew they were good Gursikhs that were doing the best for the Panth, so when the SGPC member would leave his hosue to go for a meeting the people of that pind would take care of his crops for that time.

Now in present times. Members dont even show up for meetings, they make excuses that they are busy, even though they have cars in these times. They only go to pick up there pay cheques.

So where did everything go wrong?

This baba told me that usually a election for SGPC members is held every 3 years. But during one time period there was no election held for about 10-12 years. During those years most of the SGPC members died of. So than when the election happened a whole new slate of SGPC members was elected and thats when the SGPC mentality shifted towards greed and selfishness.

According to the Baba i met, this was the turning point which slowly turned into the Badal stranglehold of the SGPC and members attitudes changing from serving the panth, to serving themselves.

Waheguru Ji Ka Khalsa, Waheguru Ji Ki Fateh

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Hun Kadney Chande Khalsa Raj De