What A Wonderful World! FATEHPAL SINGH TARNEY
Janam Da Firangee,
Sikhi Mai Mangee
In the style of Khushwant Singh's ‘Big Book of Malice‘. It has been said that imitation is the highest form of flattery. This column is a case in point.
80% VOTED FOR TRUMP
A very wise Sardar from my saadh sangat here in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, who is very actively involved in seva activities and very familiar with the vast majority of our membership, told me that about 80% of them voted for Trump for three reasons. Given that most of these people are affluent professionals and very business-oriented, the promise of 1) low taxes; 2) fewer regulations; and 3) the anti-Muslim position of Trump and his subordinates.
A caveat, though: his claim is unsubstantiated and, I’m sure, anecdotal and possibly exaggerated by his own biases, like all Trumpisms are.
There were, however, clearly some anti-Trump people who were not necessarily pro-Hillary, but saw her as preferable. Given that my political chats at the gurdwara sahib were with anti-Trump people like myself, I was quite dismayed by this information.
THE PERPETUAL OUTSIDER
I have been a lifetime member of my gurdwara sahib in south Florida for over thirty years. I have been president of its saadh sangat and led it through a very troubled time when there were two highly polarized factions. The new committee, upon taking office, in fact graciously awarded me a siropa for my efforts at even-handedness and reconciliation.
Yet, there are people here who persist in seeing me as an outsider. Yes, my Punjabi is as limited as many of their English is. At the same time, many of the ‘western’ Sikhs in the 3HO group are equally distant from me. Because I’m ’not one of them’! Despite the fact, that I met Bhai Harbhajan Singh ji many years ago and he had no problem whatsoever with my not being a member of his group. These very narrow, provincial outlooks, and in my view are antithetical to the message of gurbani. Insularity and narrow-mindedness were not traits of Sikhi. Our Guru Granth Sahib is inclusive – not exclusive.
NORTH AMERICA IS MULTILINGUAL
Here in South Florida, I hear many foreign languages spoken, such as Spanish, Portuguese, Haitian Creole, and some German and French, given the number of tourists from Europe and Quebec. Of course, on account of my orientation, I hear a lot of Punjabi.
I was at my gym working out and nearby were two young Chinese lads. They were speaking rapid-fire Mandarin. I do not understand a word, but I do know the difference in the sound between the Mandarin dialect and the southern Chinese, popularly known as Cantonese.
Usually, people using a foreign tongue will throw in a few English words that one can understand. This time there was nothing, until … I could have sworn that there are Chinese words that sound like “high school reunion” and “restroom.” My curiosity about their language was matched, I think, by their curiosity regarding my patka and joorrah.
Recently I attended an interfaith forum on the relationship between faith and the scientific theory of evolution. The keynote speaker was a retired biology professor from Brown University in Rhode Island. At the end of this program, I went up to him and complimented him on his superb presentation that lay people could understand and told him that I had a degree from Brown as well.
He told me of a Sikh student he had, who right after 9-11 was arrested whilst traveling by train to New York City. In the anger, hostility and paranoia that followed the tragic events of 9-11, his turban, beard, and kirpan resulted in his arrest based on nothing more than “suspicion.” This professor had not heard from his student for three full days and was distraught the entire time. This professor had tears in his eyes as he spoke about his favorite student and what this young man experienced so unjustly.
My experience with strict vegetarians, whether Sikhs or others, has generally been tense, to say the least. I am an omnivore with an emphasis on carnivore. I believe diet is a very personal thing and I pass no judgments on people regarding eating preferences different from my own.
One young girl, a vegan, kept sending me pictures of cute little lambs and baby goats, given my particular enjoyment of lela and bukkri dishes. This began as a very friendly debate about our respective diets.
I was tolerant – she was not! I felt compelled in exchange for the baby animal photos to send her cute pictures of beans, carrots and beet sprouts.
THE DRESSED-UP BEARD
Through the years, I have used a variety of gel, pomade, mousse, and fixxo on my beard when I have it dressed it up. I have frequently opted for a chardi kalaa muchch (moustache) in imitation of one of my heroes, General Jagjit Singh Aurora. My problem is when using most gels, I can get the right side of the muchch up, but the left side collapses. I hate asymmetry!
Then I discovered Elmer's Glue. This adhesive keeps the muchch upright on both sides and then washes out with ease.
EDUCATED AND UNEDUCATED TRUMP SUPPORTERS
During the presidential campaign, one of the many awkward things Trump said was that he loved the uneducated. I have many liberal friends who cling to the stereotype that the majority of Trump supporters are uneducated people driving pickup trucks and living in trailer-parks. I know a number of highly educated people who love Trump.
I know one lady with a doctorate in something, married to a psychiatrist, who asserts that Barack Obama took his oath of office as president of the United States by swearing on a Quran. I pleaded with this woman to go to any of the non-partisan fact-checking websites to learn that Obama swore on two Christian Bibles: one belonging to Abraham Lincoln and one belonging to Martin Luther King Jr. She dismissed these sites as being nothing more than liberal propaganda.
‘Alternative facts’ -- the new 2017 terminology for fibs and lies -- prevail among those who run free-range with facts in America’s right-wing.
February 7, 2017
Conversation about this article
1: Sangat Singh (Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia), February 08, 2017, 9:52 AM.
Fatepal Singh ji, as usual your erudite thesis needs an equal length for a comment. But I see a glimmer of light. Let me try with a couple of lines from your own writing. I see an abysmal level of literacy from the top and the company he seeks among the uneducated truck drivers ... I think Trump would do well for a ride among equals.
2: Dr Harinder Pal Singh (Patiala, Punjab), February 08, 2017, 10:54 AM.
Superb article, Fatehpal Singh ji. For me the punch line is ... "Our Guru Granth Sahib is inclusive - not exclusive." To steal from Kahlil Gibran ... the secret of the sea can be found in meditation upon the dew drop. If only the bigots of this world, including in our great religion, understand this truth. Sikh values have universal appeal and application.