The New American

Video

This post tells about two friends. They are second generation American. Their parents came from two different countries: Pakistan and Bangladesh. Parents have repulsive and sensitive sentiment about their countries and put children in a difficult situations.

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Victory Day: Still Waiting

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An expatriate brings most of the keys traditional and cultural values with his/her physical being. 15 years ago, when I was a native in Bangladesh, the Victory Day, December 16, was an inseparable part of my life. Special programs on television, songs of 71 coming from local loud speaker organized by political party and vivid hanging posters along the express way adorn the city at a festive mode on the occasion of December 16. Even though last 15 years, the Fourth of July and its fireworks have integrated into my life, still I cannot ignore the craving for December 16. Every year I expect BABA (Bay Area Bangladeshi Association)  will organize a local fair for us , I will go there wearing a lal-sobuj saree and meet others while having my cup of tea with Sheeter Pitha. At least in my life time, the Victory Day will not be faded away. Because it is an inspirational day for me, it reminds me that I am a member of the second largest ethnic group in the world. I am not alone.

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Neither I know all the days over the year our previous generation used to celebrate in their life time, nor I know my USA born children will ever celebrate the Victory Day during their adulthood. It is obvious that we evolve culturally and mentally. Which is very essential for me is to pass the information to our next generation so that there will be no vacuum in the generation gap. Usually expatriates are survival and ambitious. We secretly dream that our next generation will break the glass roof in order to be part of the power and business class. That’s why we want them to be  American. So far I don’t get a straight forward definition of being American. Theoretically USA is a melting pot. Americans are bonded by some national holidays and celebrations like fourth of July, Halloween, Memorial Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas. But the true fact is diversity is one of the strengths of its dominating economy. The main stream American life is also constantly changing by adding more flavors into its distinctive fruit-salad alike society. Now we are very familiar with Chinese New Year and Diwally. But still when an Indian-American has won Miss America 2014 pageant, Twitter has been flooded with racist comments. Good news is American values are against racism. Free speech doesn’t mean hate speech in USA. Our next generation is aware of it. The vital western philosophy is individualism. Everyone is considered of an enormous source of potential. That’s why making human a idol is absent here. Albert Einstein once said that “Everyone should be respected as an individuals, but no one idolized.”

Back home, we grew up in a communal environment. Our politics is idol-centric. Most of the middle class Bangladeshis are opinionated on everything, but their voice cannot reach beyond the boundary of their own living room. To me, our logics are emotionally biased. This is one of the reason behind our short distance voice. The other day I have had a discussion with my son about Bangladesh’s Victory Day. It was a really eye-opener conversation for me. After all he is growing up in USA and thinking neutrally.

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“Tell me about Bagladeshes Declaration of idelendender?”, My son has asked.

I became very confused. From where I should start. I told him about March 7, 26, 27. I told him about Shaikh Mujib, Mejor Zia, first prime minister Tazuddin, General Osmani, Vasani and so on. But it seemed like he didn’t get his answer. Later on I have figured out his interest was ‘WHAT’ where as I am giving him the answer of ‘WHO’.

“Mammy, you know the United States Declaration of Independence, particularly the second sentence: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equally, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.’ Like this one, what is the motivating sentence for the general people?”

“Actually our declaration just said that we had to fight with our two hand until freedom comes. There is no mention of what would happen next. Longsighted views haven’t been practiced in our politics. Rather than last 40 years we have been noticing backward view like WHO declared the independence has divided our nation into two extreme end. I have answered your question in my way. Because back home, I was always a part of swing voters. The ‘WHO’ part actually doesn’t matter to me at all.”

“It sounds like Galliver’s Travel.”

“How?”

“Lilliput and Blefuscu are fighting over Little-Endians and Big-Endians.”

I know he is not wrong. From a distance it looks like a homogeneous nation is trying to be divided into racial tribes so that they can hate each other. A total wastage in terms of time, energy, security, above all, the prosperity as an individual or as a whole country.

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Western individualist culture is very honest to give everybody a fare distinctively share and credit of big achievement goes to the communal authority. For example, the credit of it’s unique Declaration of Independence goes to the Continental Congress. On the other hand, eastern communal culture is sustained by creating a idol and making the rest invisible. In this discussion, I don’t like to share a judgmental view by telling that this culture is better over that one. But I must say when we see that innocent people are burning on the way to their workplaces or schools, no double our deep down values need to be refreshed. How does it happen?

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Like waterfalls, values cascade from top to bottom part of the society.  When George Washington was asked to be crowned in the free America, he simply refused by telling that we didn’t fight for getting another king. When the idol wants to be the part of community, it makes everybody especial and respectful. Yes, we want to be respectful. Eventually it will make generous to respect others. Hatred ignites fire and respect extinguish it. We have seen enough infernos, isn’t it the time for putting it down? When it will happen, we’ll call it our final Victory Day.

Good Bye Community

(Last write up as BABA president for eNewsletter)

At the eve of 2012, it is my turn to say goodbye to the community as a president of BABA. I, along with EC of 2012, wanted to see the community culturally active. The word ‘culture’ is very subjective. In a very simple way, we can explain it as a media that is very close to our hearts. It is obvious that we can breathe comfortably when our surroundings are very familiar to us. That is why we try to feel our roots by simulating the environment of our back home through the media of culture. Like any other species in this world, culture also evolves. Our taste is different from our previous generation and so is true for our next generation. But we cannot deny the connection of chronological changes that take place generation after generation. This is why we introduce our culture to our next generation, so that they can develop their own cultural identity without feelings of being rootless.

One of the strengths of USA is its diversity. We have to utilize the power of diversity and understand how it can enrich our community. In this country, so many current leaders, entrepreneurs, and writers are coming from second generation from the immigrants of different countries. Our children are very lucky by birth. Very easily they are getting familiar with two cultures of two different continents. This knowledge of cultures will enrich their adjustability, acceptability and wisdom. It is wisdom that makes us happy by eliminating our confusion. BABA is working hard for this purpose besides its other activities.
This year, we have organized four programs: Ekushe February, Picnic, Chand RRaat and musical concert. Our team also contributed BABA to be financially strong. I would like to thank all of you who encouraged us by praising our works. Our critics have also helped us to improve our quality. To me, it is an immense experience to work for the community. I wanted to set an example in front of my kids so that they will be encouraged to work for the community when they will grow up. Thanks to my family, EC and BOT members, volunteers, sponsors, and above all the Bangladeshi Community of Bay Area.

The New American

During the dawn of computer era, Asians from different counties have been rushing to USA as white color employees. USA is said to be a melting pot. Are these Asians being melted smoothly? It is definite that 1st generation, who directly came from Asia to USA, is bringing their own culture and test from back-home with them and their social lives are separated with each other under the name of Chinese Community, Indian Community, Bangladeshi Community and Pakistan Community. How about their children – the second generation?

I will focus on the lives of second generation from the descendant of different communities. USA is their meeting place and how they meet with each other. Is there any collusion, disputation or smooth blending? Obviously there will be no sharp digital answer – yea or no. Sometimes people from the same background face difficulties to meet each other smoothly. That’s why I’ll not point out the usual human sentiments which cause issues on our everyday meeting. I will investigate the point if the second generation of Asians carries the same legacy of their ancestors’ geographical conflict?

In Asia, India and Pakistan are always on tensed relationship. So does China and India. Bangladesh achieved its liberation by fighting against Pakistan. A first generation of Bangladeshi cannot forget his/her country’s war of liberation when he/she meets a Pakistani. Their cultures are different. On the other hand, Bangladesh and Pakistan are Two Muslim countries. Religion is another bonding.  How much of these sentiments effect the second generation when they meet each other in USA?

The story will be told from the eyes of a 10 years old Bangladeshi origin boy, named Paris. His neighbors are Pakistani, Indian and Chinese. The Pakistani origin boy Osman is new in the neighborhood. Rohan, a boy from Indian origin, was Paris’s best friend before Paris met Osman. But when Osman has been added to the neighborhood, a new tension has been raised. At first there was a little collusion between two teenagers from Rohan and Osman’s families. Parents got involved in this dispute which made the incident worse. Pakistani family showed hot-tempered and argued against the Indian family. In return, Indian family called them terrorist. The word ‘terrorist’ carries a great legacy. Pakistanis are Muslim and nowadays there is a general perception about Muslims is they are terrorists. Especially India has been attacked by Muslim terrorists several times and these terrorists are trained in Pakistani soil. As a result of fact, Rohan and Osman are departed and cannot play together. Paris is in a difficult position. Rohan is his old best friend and Osman is his new best friend. He has to choose one. Somehow Paris feels closer to Osman. But the majority of the neighborhood is Indian origin dominated. If Paris picks Osman then he will be isolated and bullied by the other neighborhood children who are controlled by Rohan’s teenager brother. But Paris doesn’t feel like not to meet Osman regularly. Now all he wants is to solve the dispute among the neighbors so that they can meet each other without any legacy issues. Will he be able to do that?

The Story will be told from the eye of Paris’s point of view. He writes his journal every day. He will remember the old good time when everybody met and played together during playtime in the neighborhood. He will depict the bad time when they stop meeting and divided into groups. He will tell his ideas on getting the neighborhood back to its old good maritime when everybody can meet and play again.