Thursday, February 21, 2008

Moscow Diaries: Power of Observation

Andrei, a colleague in Russia, said that he too was attacked in a Moscow metro once, to the dismay of all the Indians in the room. We were lunching and small-talking about lynching, the latest fashion among Russians. 23 dark-skinned people were killed in racist attacks, and 16 of them in Moscow, in the first two months of this year. The good news is , none of the dead were from the sub-continent yet.
Andrei likes Indian food. So he too was digging a spoon into the nondescript fish curry that was practically floating in oil, made by Kiran, a kannadiga caterer living in Moscow. Someone asked Andrei, 'But why you?', because he was a fair-skinned, fair-eyed, fair-haired russian citizen. There was nothing dark about him visibly, except his trousers and shoes - I know him only for two days, so I can't vouch for his heart though.
He said 'My grand father and my mother's forefathers were from Armenia! So...' and shrugged his shoulders and smiled wide. Even his teeth were white, not even yellow!
Blacks and Browns and Chinkis is understandable, but how will they make out if someone is Russian, or from a former-Soviet state like Armenia or Uzbekistan? A firang is a firang is a firang for all us Indians. Unless a guy opens his mouth, we think all fair-skinned foreigners are from Britain, and Arshad Warsi will start his tirade against their battleguns (oh, that was a joke played on us in the form of the movie 'Dhan Dhanadhan GOAL', but that's another story!)
They say the subtlest of the features, like a faintly blunt nose, skin blotches, eye-shape, shade of blonde or even walking style can be picked by a skin-head as a differntiator between Russians and the rest of the world, and he then proceeds to administer his view of the Darwin's theory of natural selection, that Mr.Adolf tried in the last century!
It also proves that a brown-skinned Indian can never become a firang, inspite of the put-on accents and italian suits. And that is irrespective of what your second cousins in Bangalore and the ex-girlfriend, now living in California, might think. The Russian skin-heads simply don't care if you are a Russian citizen too and eat Siberian Salmon for breakfast, and worst, even if you are begging for mercy in impeccable Russian language that some of their mothers would be proud of!
However, the main point and the moral of the story is: Russians have a very Keen Observation power!
How come they could never recognize James Bond then, even though it was the same Sean Connery all the time?

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