Tag Archives: equal rights

Raising a Glass to P!nk

I was 13 when I first saw P!nk. I remember it very clearly. I was at my Nans, with my siblings and cousins. It was either just after school or the holidays – the only time we would all be at Nans together watching TV with overly sweet tea and jam sandwiches. 
Her bright pink hair and attitude made her cool, her IDGAF persona made her edgy and everyone in the room, both boys and girls, were in awe of her. Full of angst and oozing coolness, it seemed like even the lads could be fans of this soon to be megastar. I remember recording the video to There You Go and rewatching that awesome scene with the motorcycle about twenty times. What a badass! 

I didn’t really get as far as listening to the whole album then, and wouldn’t have called myself a huge fan. I was aware of her, but wasn’t really checking for her, she was cool and that was that. I was too busy still being in my bubblegum pop music stage, listening to S Club 7 and buying magazines marketed to teenage girls. I wasn’t really a “normal lad” for my age and even though I wasn’t bullied horrendously, being picked on throughout my early teens definitely had an impact, and made me feel terrible about being me, which forced me to then hide away my true self out of fear of not being seen as normal. 

Normal, I suppose was football, it was rap music and RnB. It was only having girl friends if you were after one thing and it was being a straight up #LAD drenched in Lynx Africa with a JD sports bag and cool trainers. I guess I wasn’t normal. This sort of really bothered me as I didn’t like being lonely. I knew I was a vessel of fun and laughter waiting to erupt, and I just needed the right people in my life to allow me to do it. Anyway, enough about me, back to Pink. Fast forward a bit, and the year is now 2003. I was on a trip to India with my Brother and Dad, both of whom I didn’t really have the closest of relationships with, but there I was. Three weeks alone with them. I had taken a few CDs with me (pirate copies – I was 16, and was a broke teenager, forgive me!) and a battery powered disc-man. It was on this trip where I fell in love with Pink. 

The album Missundaztood changed my life in ways I now only know. Don’t Let Me Get Me was just an anthem for exactly how I had been feeling for those early teenage years. Feeling trapped in a body with a mind, which didn’t match everything I was supposed to represent, and craving to just wanting to be someone else for a short while, to have a break or to experience life in someone elses shoes. Tracks like Eventually, Lonely Girl, 18 Wheeler and Family Portrait just connected with me, where I was able to bridge so many situations I was going through myself to the music and lyrics Pink was singing. It was like someone had climbed into my brain and thought “this would make such a great album!”. 

This album would go on to be one of my most listened to records ever, and I’m happy to say, I’ve bought a real copy! No more pirating over here!

Since this album, P!nk has continued to be the soundtrack to my life. Every situation I’ve found myself in, she has been a constant. When I didn’t want to bother friends or when I felt I didn’t have anyone to turn too, Pink always had a song. She has taught me acceptance with my brilliant mind, self love where I know I’m worthy of great things and she has been one of my best support systems through some of my darkest days. 

When I wanted to give up, she told me that passion and pain would keep me alive someday, and she was right. When I was being beaten down physically and emotionally, she told me to get up and try, when I struggled to speak out about myself and could only think of negatives and didn’t have any self worth, Pink told me I was still perfect, and when I would mess up, she reminded me to brush myself off , say “so what?” and that I was still a rockstar. 

She is so much more than a singer, an artist or a superstar to me. She has been the person I seek for counsel and is a reminder that no matter how bad things are or get, with determination, hard work and self belief, we can all achieve great things. 17 years on, she still continues to inspire, amaze and prove to me just why I’m always so in awe of her. 

“I’ve already seen the bottom so theres nothing to fear…” is one of the lines from her new album, further proving to me that she is the soundtrack to my life.

Thank you Alecia. 

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Caste vs Sikh

I have always been a Sikh. It’s just the Indian tradition isn’t it? You are born into a religion. No decisions or make your own mind up in our culture, which is fine. I’m not complaining. I’ve always been proud of my religion and the background and history of the religion of Sikhism. Recently though, well, I say recently, but for the last few years, I have grown to lose respect for certain aspects of this so-called religion we are meant to follow. Before you all start complaining at me for badmouthing the religion and being a non-believer, calm down and read on.

As a child I had always been bought up in religion and as a believer that I was Jatt, Sikh. This was my religion. I wasn’t just a Sikh – I was a Jatt Sikh. I didn’t really know what this meant. Being a bit of a “bounty” or a “coconut” as I was called by my family and friends, you know brown on the outside but white on in the inside, I didn’t really know what a Jatt was as it wasn’t really something I’d heard at school or with my circle of friends, I just knew that’s what I was because of my surname.

Later in life, as my circle of friends became more larger and had more of a variety of people, I started learning what all this surname and caste business was all about. “Yo, what’s your surname?” “She’s fit, but nah, she’s a Chamari init” “Of course he won’t! He’s a Ramgharia!” were the types of phrases you would hear coming out of some of the lads in my family or so called circle of friends. I pretended I knew what was going on, but being the bounty I was now known as, I just nodded and laughed along.

Now, not a lot of you reading this will have the foggiest of what I’m on about. Well, basically, in Indian culture, you have a tier of class and living standard. As unfortunate as it sounds, it’s still a pretty big deal in the Indian way of life. You have high castes and low castes – which, caste specialists, as I call them, can tell by the way you look, dress or by your surname. I’m a Jatt. I’ve been told I “look like a Jatt” too, whatever that’s supposed to mean.

I’ve never really thought any different of people. I’ve always been very equal in the way I see people; my family have too. I’ve had white friends, black friends, friends of all religion and caste all through my life, so have my two siblings. I’m very fortunate to have really open-minded Indian parents.

This open-minded lifestyle doesn’t stick with most families though. It’s 2012, and I still hear horror stories of the inequality between castes in the religion of Sikhism. As a Sikh, I was bought up to be equal and have no barriers in the respect I give to people, which is something I believe I have done throughout my life.

So, why is it that I hear the words and phrases “Chammar” or “Jatts Stink” or trending topics on Twitter like “LifeOfAJatt” and “LifeOfAThurkan”? How is it possible, that I see a fully baptised Sikh man, with a Turban and Kirpan going mental over his son wanting to marry a girl who is of different caste? Why is it that we go to the Gurdwara, but only people of one caste should go there, because you know, that’s the rule. What rule? Where does it say in the Guru Granth Sahib that we have to go to separate Gurdwaras because of our caste? I didn’t choose to be Jatt. I was bought up into my caste. I’m a Jatt, which means farmer, but you don’t see me growing potatoes in my back garden and buying a tractor – I do wear a turban though, and I am a Sikh. Therefore, whatever caste you are, whatever religion you are or whether you are black, white, gay, lesbian or don’t even believe in God, as a Sikh, I respect you, and so should other Sikhs.

I’ve had enough of culture and tradition ruining the teachings of Sikhism. I’m fully aware that I am not a “proper” Sikh, I know that. I’m not the poster boy for Sikhism in 2012, but I do think I’m quite religious. I might not go to the Gurdwara every day and I might drink and eat meat, but that does not mean I have turned my back on my religion and faith. I know a lot of baptised Sikhs, some whom I have a lot of respect for, and some I don’t, simply because of their thoughts on the caste system and the way they live.

It’s simple. You are either Sikh, or your caste. You cannot be both.

Sikhism is all about equality, this is why you go to the Gurdwara and eat Langar. It’s not just a free meal for you to enjoy. It’s a symbol of equality and respect of all faiths and backgrounds. We sit on the floor to eat the same meal, at the same level. No one is better than anyone else – so why are these values thrown out of the window the minute we walk out the Langar hall? Tell me that one. It’s ridiculous.

I’m a Sikh. Done.

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