(This post is actually for March 19th)
Fundamentalism has reared its ugly head once again. A few weeks ago, on a lazy Sunday, I thought I might revive a weekend tradition of my last household, 1759 Grand Avenue. My roommate(s) and I would cook scrambled eggs, with toast, and of course, bacon. Judge me if you so please, but pork looks good to even the most devout Muslims, and after 6 years at boarding school, I’d finally given into (literally) the pleasures of the flesh, the other white meat.
After sitting down a lovely breakfast, I must have succumbed to a mental haze brought on by post-meal stupor; when the maid asked me what the "ajib," or strange, meat was, I replied most casually, “suwar gosh,” pork. She immediately gasped, and began ranting about my wayward lifestyle. The beer, the women, the lack of prayers, that was all tolerable, but this, this consumption of pig, was unacceptable. She stared in disbelief at her own hands, which had just washed the pan used to cook the devil-meat. In a religious rage, she threatened to punch me next time I tried, and refused to more than grunt at my attempts at social interaction until a week later. The driver, overhearing only the maid’s threats of physical altercation, later questioned me in the car about why the maid was upset. A little rattled, I nonetheless replied casually with the same answer given to the maid, that I had eaten bacon. Initially thinking I was kidding, when I finally convinced of my transgression, he immediately recited an Arabic incantation, surely something to banish the demon which has taken grasp of this foolish young man. At the same time, he pulled the car to the side of the road, and lectured me on the vices of pork. I attempted to counter with a discussion of the roots of many Islamic practices, but my urdu was grossly insufficient to support this kind of interchange. Vainly attempting to maintain some shred of secular defiance, I more or less admitted defeat a week later, when I moved the bacon to the downstairs freezer, where it has remained ever since.
Apart from that, I was surprised again at my father’s household this week. My dad’s side of the family is rather bourgeoisie, quite the opposite of the jihadis on my mom’s side, so I normally don’t expect much harassment from that side. However, last week, my mom in a conversation with one of my aunts, always disapproving of my very existence, mentioned that I was developing, “dangerous tendencies.” My aunts later raised the issue. When they mentioned it, asking me about my dangerous tendencies, I assumed the usual: concern about a drug habit, the wrong sort of women, or criminal activities, and soothed these touching concerns by dismissing any such possibilities. Looking at me like I’m an idiot, they ignore these explanations, and say, “No, no, we mean.....are you having dangerous tendencies,” with eyebrows raised. Truly puzzled, I wait until one of my aunts finally comes out with it, “Are you dating girls....or...you know, boys.” They were worried that I was gay, which in Hyderabad, is right up there with eating bacon.