Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Kerala, Naveen Andrews and me

I loved this interview in the Guardian with Naveen Andrews because it deals with a lot of issues that I think about.

Like Andrews my parents came from Kerala to Britain in the 1960s. I too was slapped. I too was never gifted a linguistic heritage (my Malayalam stinks and I have learnt Hindi the hard way) because my parents wanted me to fit in. I also prefer the in-your-face working class racism in Britain to that found in the mouths of the smug middle-class. Unlike Andrews I was not a teenage dropout or an alcoholic. Drugs never led me to a serious addiction. I also do not have kids.

But in the piece I sensed something of Andrews that a group of young British Black people who grew up in 1970s London shared. That of hubris and defiance. I can see his point when Andrews talks of never feeling "at home in London, because people were constantly telling me I didn't belong here, so after a while, you tend to believe that." He is spot on in saying "people who would blanch at the idea of being thought of as being racist when they know that it fucking well is obvious."

Britain's self-perpetuating elite and its frozen snobbery is only softened by London's recent blaze of ethnic diversity. But I think Andrews found himself, like a lot of us, defying the order of things. The result is that you become an outcast. When you run afoul of the people in charge, you soon learn that you have to be chastized regardless of the value of your services. Maybe that is why he left Britain - and found love and a life away from home.


1 comment:

Shritha said...

I can't agree more with this post! Like you, I too am from Kerala and came to England at a very young age. While I am quite fluent in Malayalam because of strictly traditional parents, I am much better at speaking English. Still I can't help feeling unwelcome in England, despite living in the most diverse locale in London.