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Nshima & Curry
Nshima & Curry
|Cartoon by Dr. Sudeep Ross
THE STRANGE PEOPLE ACROSS THE BORDER
The other day, while visiting a furniture store, I met a
worker who looked Indian. But when I told him I was from
India, he revealed he was from Pakistan. At that point, I
had no choice: I grabbed a chair and chased him around the
store, shouting, "Death to the Pakistani!"
Actually, it didn't go quite like that. Security was tight,
so I waited until his shift ended and followed him home,
where I deflated his tires, raided his refrigerator, and
tattooed the words "I love India!" all over his body. Who
said tattoos serve no purpose?
OK, I admit it: I didn't go that far. All I did was shake
his hand and smile. We had a rather friendly chat. I didn't
ask if any of his relatives were terrorists. He didn't ask
if any of mine were infidels. We didn't even insult each
He stated that the Kashmir dispute shouldn't create any ill
will between us. "Yes," I said. "After all, India and
Pakistan were once the same country. We are like family, you
and I. That reminds me: Does this store offer any family
If it were up to us, the border between India and Pakistan
would be eliminated. Of course, if that happened, the
country would have to look for a new enemy, so people in the
military could keep their jobs. Gotta keep the economy
It's a funny thing about borders -- how they divide people,
how they create enmity and envy, how they give travelers the
occasional thrill of being strip-searched.
Borders often seem so arbitrary, so illogical, like a
British monarch delegated the task of drawing borders to his
pet monkey. And yet we take them so seriously. We act like
the people across the border are so different from us.
Fifty-year-old man: "They're crazy, those people across the
border. They speak a strange language and play strange
games. Crazy, I tell you."
Wife: "Oh, be quiet. You really shouldn't speak ill of the
Canadians. They're just like us. Nice people."
I've often wondered what America would be like if every
state were an independent country. It would be virtually
impossible to travel from Nevada to Utah.
Border officer: "You're from Las Vegas? What, may I
ask, do you want in Utah? There's no gambling here, you
know. No prostitution either. We don't even allow bingo."
Traveler: "I'm visiting my parents. They live just across
Officer: "Visiting your parents? I don't believe it. It's
not Christmas yet. Sorry, I can't let you through. If you
want to enter Utah, you'll have to hide in a barrel like
I like the Internet because it crosses borders so easily,
brings people of different countries together. People in
almost any country can read my column, people in almost any
country can send me hate mail. I love hearing from
Pakistanis as much as anyone else.
In major American cities, you will find Indians and
Pakistanis doing business side by side, some operating
stores with names like South Asia Boutique, Indo-Pak
Groceries and Indo-Pak Sweets & No Disputes. You
may even spot them at the local park, playing a few
innings of cricket -- laughing and shouting and ignoring
the strange looks from passers-by.
There's no border between these people. I hope there never
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