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Coconuts On Trial

Coconuts On Trial

September 03, 2009

Is it a crime to be the Indian who skis and prefers pasta to pakora? Why does it make others think, 'uh-oh, coconut'?

Is it such a crime to be the Indian who skis and prefers pasta to pakora? And why does that make others think, ‘uh-oh coconut’? If you’re new to this cultural cliché, that’s brown on the outside but white on the inside – yep, really. See, I grew up in Essex, away from the tighter-knit Indian communities of northwest London or Leicester and so-called Brit or ‘white’ culture featured heavily in my childhood.

It was cool to hit Romford market on a Saturday morning, munch on crabsticks and shop for legwarmers. It was not cool to spend Sundays eating off partitioned plastic trays at the wedding of your dad’s second cousin’s son who’d last seen you aged three. In my mind, these were just my preferences - and it was fine to prefer the ‘British’ option to the Indian one on occasion.

Coconuts, listen up. Let’s re-define the term. There’s nothing wrong with having cultural preferences which aren’t Indian. Yes, I’d rather watch a cult arthouse flick than a Bollywood one. And I’d rather hit a music festival than a mela. It’s to do with what you like. But while I was listening to indie pop as a kid, my mum still mum played Bollywood tunes and ghazals and I like them. I can even sing a few word-for-word. Hell, I even speak fluent Gujarati. Besides, hanging out in an all-Indian posse and going out to Indian clubs does not an Indian make. Take that, coconut persecutors.

A bona fide ‘coconut’ is one with little interest in their heritage, not someone who sometimes prefers non-Indian activities. I spent three months in India a few years ago. I had a blast and felt a real connection. When I was 18, I remember going to an indie night with friends on a Friday but by Saturday, I was dancing garba and banging sticks at dandia with the local Lohana community in Romford’s Dolphin leisure centre.

Your formative years, and who you spend those with, really do shape you. ‘Coconut’ as a label is way too brown or white. What about the grey areas in between? I propose something more variable. Like coffee. A dark espresso is the Indian who can’t contemplate Sunday without a trip to the jalebee shop while the archetypal ‘coconut’ is a milky latte, some brown stuff at the bottom, but otherwise all milk. I’d place myself somewhere in between. A cappuccino perhaps, and it tastes pretty good.

44 Comments

  • what?
    By
    what?
    26.04.13 10:45 AM
    not sure what the last comment was meant to imply, are you saying Indian men are dirty smelly perverts who like to rape 5 year old children in Delhi?
  • Hindustani
    By
    Hindustani
    15.12.12 03:59 AM
    Ye kaun hai bhen ka lauda Jason Prasad?
  • Suren ram
    By
    Suren ram
    29.03.12 05:03 AM
    I wonder what the motive was for writing such an article because prasad does have a point, the author of this feature probably thinks they are addressing a cultural thought, but in all fairness only the very immature and those with medieval beliefs will continue to think and say such things, it is of little consequence to white people when items like this are written, for you are further cementing their conviction that the white person is king and has a well earned right to continue the reign on that throne. If you're all going to use the 'tongue firmly in the cheek' cliche as you have all done, for goodness sakes at least understand the ramifications of writing features like this. We have laws here in Canada that
  • Rajpriya
    By
    Rajpriya
    21.02.12 09:37 PM
    Well! I have never come across this post before. Living in Germany for four decades
    my family is fondly called “Schokolade Menschen”, meaning Chocolate people
    by many Germans who are our close friends. We have no problems with that.

    They often tell us how they wished they had our hair and skin color. Most of them try to get
    a Tan by spending money on holidays to Spain and Greece with out much success.
    Even if they manage to get slightly tanned its all gone two weeks after they return.

    So, I don't find anything wrong in being what most people want to be?
  • coconut_rajah
    By
    coconut_rajah
    21.02.12 06:45 PM
    and that currybear link is very funny. shame i had to trawl through a million dissertation-length essays from jason prasad to get to them.
  • coconut_rajah
    By
    coconut_rajah
    21.02.12 06:41 PM
    interesting post, but even though its 'tongue in cheek' (an easy way out), you dont really say why you arent a coconut lol. you just say that even if you like english things over almost anything indian, that doesnt mean you are a coconut. but from the sounds of it, youre exactly the type of person you claim not to be (sorry) you should have at least mentioned the indian/asian things you like to do/are interested in. going 3 months to india ONCE does not mean that much. im not playing the more asian than thou card here, im not mr all-asian myself, i love western music and films (i like asian music and films too, just not as much), though i love asian literature and cook asian food and follow current affairs stuff about us as much as i can. but i see a lot of asians in london like this, esp women actually, desperately trying to forget their asian ness in various ways.
  • Hannah
    By
    Hannah
    27.04.11 05:33 PM
    What I feel is the right attitude towards an issue maybe wrong in the eyes of the next person....that's because we're humans!! its in us to think differently from one another.....ten different people may have twelve different opinions on one single topic!! If everyone could just accept this fact, then the world would be a much better place :)at this point let me also add that, I would find it quite offensive if I were called a coconut.So yes,in a way this article wasn't very amusing to me...but at the end of the day, Meera's a talented writer, this I have to admit.I do feel she will go a long way in striking a chord with the majority of readers if she could channel her thoughts towards more concrete issues....once again, this is solely MY OPINION....it really doesn't bother me whether the next reader agrees to it or not.Message to Meera:Keep writing girl!
  • Madhu
    By
    Madhu
    29.03.11 04:42 PM
    I stumbled upon this site just now .... Having grown up in India,(North & South), Africa and living presently in the US & India, I can tell you that being Indian encompasses everything!! within my state of kerala, I can't figure out the mentalities of a lot of cultures or groups, leave alone a Bihari's or a Kashmiri's.... labelling each other is a superficial way of categorizing people which we humans need to keep our mental order. However, if the chance arrives for intimacy with others, one finds out that yes ... he/she is representative of the group yet atypical and individual. In such a context, there are very few terms that are really offensive .... coconut is not one of them! I'm sorry for the guy above ranting away, who cannot see tongue-in-cheek and seems to take life extremely seriously for whatever reason .... As for the author, please keep up the writing ...... as it is Indians are better at poking fun of others than themselves .... we need to stop putting our hackles up so!
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    01.12.10 05:12 PM
    @Really - because he has the same right to put his viewpoint forward as anyone else. There are just some obvious rules regarding conduct and language which thankfully most intelligent people are able to work out for themselves.

    On that note, thank you for all your contributions thus far, albeit under different aliases and with different email addresses:)
  • really?
    By
    really?
    01.12.10 04:11 PM
    Why don't you just ban this guy, if you feel that strongly about his behaviour? Surely, by keeping him here you are just putting off everyone else?
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    01.12.10 06:22 AM
    granted, it was strong but strength lies in truth, Alfred, you write like you've read a lot, and certainly you don't make efforts to hide this fact, I often picture you climbing on your thrown - your short legs don't touch the floor so you stand on the seat and begin issuing your lectures and instructions on behaviour, settlements and peace, please most of us are familiar with Sun's Art of War, what was that he said "wars are won in the temples of morality before they are fought on the battlefield," so enough of your patronising tone, we may not have gone to the schools you attended, but we know when someone's lecturing pompousness makes the face contort and twist in the same way it would after it sees and smells a fresh puddle of hot steaming vomit. Your instructor lead deliveries irritate me, so a little word; the deck of cards I play with are no different to yours, but still you seem to think you have the high ground? Please, I'll throw faeces in your faces with all of my four aces,

    What lies in libraries but lies, anyone ever tell you that bookworm. You're pick-apart-able, not just to the bone or marrow, but anatomically at cellumolecular detail. I was being rude, as I am now, because it warrants it, perhaps when your words elevate to a point that is sufficient suitable enough for me to engage in, I will be civil, as I am usually, for now though, you can take your high-brow attitude and consider why some of the world's most evil tyrannical dictators got pissed-off with the middle class business men, doctors, teachers, and politicians and decided to kill them off first. I'll tell you why, the rich from Africa and Asia went to England, got educated at oxbridge and then returned to their nations and began abusing what they were taught and corrupting their country further, Aang sung being an exception. I feel it is important you 'middle class and I'm proud of it' folk take heed, for it was precisely your kind of people, who rejected Hitler at Vienna art school which may have lead to his unforivable. Adjust your writing tone to quality, Alfred else working class writers will cut you to pieces just as am doing write here!!!

    middle classes; the greatest set of foolish people who seem to believe they are cutting edge and inspirational to others; when you are clearly nothing of the sort.

    Rarely do i have to lower my reasoning to the middle classes level, nobody lies sinking beyond the depths of hell itself.. But it looks like I am having to on this board, how else can you defeat fools except by arguing as one. Fools - the lot of you!
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    01.12.10 05:24 AM
    Jason, please do not use that language again. You have complained about having previous comments deleted. I am a reluctant censor but will disallow any further contributions to this debate that you are unable to articulate without the use of expletives. You are clearly an intelligent man, and I was extremely disappointed in your outburst.

    Alfred has summed it up quite well. You have a very different take on this matter and people respect that. You certainly cannot make your position any clearer. It is causing you to be upset and the time may have come for you to unsubscribe from comments to save you any further distress.
  • Alfred Jones
    By
    Alfred Jones
    01.12.10 04:38 AM
    Jason,

    It is quite clear both NRIs like myself and others, and non-NRIs like Kerri, who have posted comments don't view terms like "coconut", "oreo" etc in quite the same way you do. It is perfectly okay for something to be blindingly obvious and self evident to one person but not to another isn't it? That's part of the deal in any conversation between online participants no?

    So, while you do feel very strongly about this, and we respect that, I think I speak for the rest of us when I say there is no way you're going to prove your point or change our minds - especially with the tone and language you've picked for your recent postings on this topic. "M[***]ER F[****]ER!!" Really, was that necessary? (Unless your goal was not to persuade but to vent your outrage and anger at our attitudes toward this subject. In which case, yes, you're mad, we get it.)

    Similarly, I don't think any of us has any hope of changing your mind either.

    One of the reasons I enjoy www.the-nri.com is because the people that pariticipate are unfailingly civil in their dealings with each other. How about we stick to that tradition and end this discussion at this time? Please.

    ~alfred
  • Keri
    By
    Keri
    01.12.10 03:48 AM
    Before I comment on anything else, what does this mean?

    "I doubt who spells kerri, you don’t have to be an FBI writing analyst to figure out the sentence structures, use of conjunctions, use of participles, commas, bracket usage, etc."

    This is the second time you've said something like that but I don't get what it means. Please explain. Thank you.
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    01.12.10 03:25 AM
    This is some of the crudest, rudest and RACIST remarks that anyone's eyes will ever be attacked by; but the most deeply deeply worrying thing is people laugh at this and find it funny, little realising that young pakistani and indian girls are being murdered by their own parents and brothers and other family member who want to control them from assimilating into another culture or having boyfriends of different races/religion - and you people laugh out LOAD!?!?!? MOTHER FUCKER!! All those women who were tortured and died a horrible death, many are beaten and burnt alive, and you people still insist there is nothing wrong with using all those expletives. I doubt who spells kerri, you don't have to be an FBI writing analyst to figure out the sentence structures, use of conjunctions, use of participles, commas, bracket usage, etc. But the most obvious reason is what black person in their rightful mind would condone the use of the word Oreo or any other phrase that stops their race from progressing, so you don't want black people to communicate effectively in a corporate world? so you don't want the black person to be able to express themselves at all levels and to whomever? So what you are saying is you'd prefer it if the black person continued living up to the stereotype of a red-eyed weed-toking, hip-hopper, who frequently mugs people and stinks of sweat and generally disrespects women and always sees them as pieces of flesh? This is what you want is it? WHy don't you go join the Klan or start voting for the BNP if this is what you like. Oreo is not funny, I would've thought being a black person you would understand that the list of stereotypes you see above and would do everything in your capacity to rid yourselves of it, but no, you obviously want to stay Afro-carribean and black, just like these people who use coconut, who wish to remain indian and brown. I won't understand why you people just can't accept yourselves as being human, but no you insist on labeling each other. Someday, somewhere, somebody is gonna send all your souls to hell !!
  • Keri
    By
    Keri
    30.11.10 10:53 PM
    Of course there is humor in my community (like there is in EVERY community). I even shared some, that some of us are called Oreos. But since this is NOT a site about the Black community and this is NOT an article about Oreos, I don't feel the need to share any more. If you're interested, I'm sure you can find a site on the Internet about the Black community (there are many), like I found this site because I'm interested.

    It's interesting that you're accusing me of "having a good old laugh" at desis, as if I'm making fun, but the fact is, the 'joke' was made by your fellow Indians first. The only reason that I posted the above link (written by an Indian) is because 1. this article about Coconuts exists in the first place, and 2. two of my friends (one Indian and one Pakistani, and who don't know each other so didn't share the article with each other) posted this article on their FB page. I was just passing on the joke, and to who? Other Indians who would appreciate it, to no one else, because, frankly, no one else cares.
  • funny
    By
    funny
    30.11.10 03:37 PM
    Keri,

    That is funny. You're a black woman, right? Since you're having a good old laugh at us desis, maybe you can share the comedy and give us some humour on your community? There must be plenty of this stuff going on amongs the black community, too. It would be great to hear some of it. It's no fun if it's just a one way street, right?
  • Keri
    By
    Keri
    30.11.10 09:19 AM
    Two of my desi friends posted this article on their FB pages this week. It's a few years old so you might have seen it already, but if you haven't,it takes this article and pushes it a few steps further. Anyone with a SENSE OF HUMOR will enjoy it.

    http://www.currybear.com/wordpress/?p=580
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    28.11.10 08:49 AM
    Spell 'who doubts Keri?'
  • Keri
    By
    Keri
    28.11.10 02:42 AM
    I'm a Black woman who has alot of Indian friends and have heard them talk about other Indians that they know as both Coconuts and FOBs, but it's always obvious that they love the person and appreciate them,it's just their funny observation. I have friends who are fully Westernized, or might be ABCDs (heard that one before? lol), who talk about those who've only been in the States a few years, who talk those who only just arrived. It's just how it is. But at the end of the day, it's all jokes.

    People of all races have names for those in their race who are not just like them. Often, my Black friends call me an Oreo (Black on the outside, white on the inside), and it's funny, because most, I think, are even more 'Oreo' than I am. Funny thing is, I even have had my SPANISH friends call me that, and at other times, they've called me an Empanada (Brown on the outside, Spanish on the inside). And now my Indian friends have even called me that too (though I need a new moniker that embraces Black on the outside, Indian on the inside, since that's really me right now. Any suggestions? LOL) But, again, at the end of the day, it's all jokes...and all love. Everyone understands that. No one is offended and no one feels that anyone is being racist. Because amongst friends, everyone realizes that.

    No, I'm not Indian but I don't look at the phrases as "Coconut" or "FOB" as racial epithets like "Nigger" is because it's not a phrase that's being used by anyone to disparage people, other than by the Indians themselves who are using it.
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    28.11.10 01:22 AM
    so this is what it boils down to; highlighting seplling and gramatical erorrs in order to convince yourself my, what was that word "rant", jesus christ in heaven!! Correcting my spelling and grammar is easy, don't need humans to do that, software would suffice. now try correcting everything else, but let me save you the trouble and time - don't bother - you can't defend yourself, want to know why - spell check this sentence - it is not possible to defend the indefensible!!
  • spell
    By
    spell
    28.11.10 01:03 AM
    What a rant! You can't even spell Gandhi mate. I think you really have lost any semblance of being a sane person. I would give up right now if I were you.
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    28.11.10 12:52 AM
    on the contrary, I do not think like the rest of you, I actually KNOW when something is WRONG!! I NO LONGER care if the readership here insists on using the word COCONUT, for nefarious means, those who wish to drive back their own individual thinking to primitive levels, will obviously choose to do so, regardless, but don't you DARE think or believe for one second you are representative of NRI's everywhere, because the people I know as friends, colleagues and family will never ever use the word COCONUT in the way you people do. Clearly there is a disparity between the sensible, wholesome, logical and those whom are outright 'aggravators' for lack of a better... one has to wonder why this issue is of such relevance and importance other than polarising and then propagating that polarisation even further, and by keeping this article active you will serve in successfully achieving the latter. I refuse to believe any good whatsoever comes from retaining this article's active status, it is not funny, fails to enrich, and devalues assimilation and cohesion to the point where it halts human/behavioural/attitudinal/ in its tracks, u-turns all the good and regresses us Indians into bored, shallow thinking individuals who have little else to think about, in terms of real terra-ferma issues, and instead prefers to highlight a boring unfunny, racist, attitude, bringing its revelation to the forefront causes more damage than if it remained unsaid. The power of the internet ought to be respected, not abused by saying and revealing whatever maybe lurking in the recesses of the mind. Ghandi spoke of restraint, why do you think he said that, for a laugh, a joke, was he taking the piss when he spoke of restraint, and resisting the urge to say and unleash whatever one feels? No!! For he was talking directly about people like me and people like you, the paradox with me is that I have to go to such lengths and amplify his words to drive home his reasoning to convince you people of what is right and what is wrong. I give up, keep this article active, show up yourselves for the people that yo are and they way you think, but let us be clear about one thing not a single person here is a representative of me, not an iota of ambassadorship exists within any soul on this board that reflects my way of life or thinking. I have done all I can to disuade you people from using the word 'Coconut' in the way you all have been. You are all intelligent beings, now sit back and try and examine why a person would use this word... assess their motives, evaluate how they judge people of their own race, culture, religoin, whatever, but the key thing here is what does it say about the person using this word to stain a person who has never thought like this, all because they were conceived and met the period of gestation before finally involuntarily slipping-out or being cut out from their mother's womb and arrive in a country where they grow up like everybody else who is and was born. Now imagine one day someone accuses that person of being a coconut, you think he/she has any idea what wrong they may've done. The irony is i bet you my right nut-sack the accusatory person is themselves born in that very same country. Shame on you all!!
  • doubt
    By
    doubt
    27.11.10 09:19 PM
    Mr Prasad, I don't think you know what you're on about. But let's leave it at that shall we? I think the readership can make up their own mind about who they think is "real" or not.
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    27.11.10 08:42 AM
    lee c'ho

    I'm a little perplexed that you thank God of all things for not being indian, please, you should blame your parents or forefathers for not travelling to the world's biggest democracy and conceiving you there, had they done your thoughts and ideas would be more in line with current affairs, to compare the word 'nigger' against the word 'coconut' and then run parallels to each, must mean one, you have little idea about the reasoning and birth of each word. The word 'Nigger' is deeply offensive as its roots lie in slavery, cruelty, murder, and complete barbarism. The word coconut is nowhere near as profound and in its impact as the 'N' word, from which wars have been fought and heroes have been born. Coconut is a noun that describes an exotic fruit that grows in countries with tropical climate. I am inclined to agree with "who?"'s suggestion, but I certainly agree that a set of peoples' pathetic attempt at creating or fabricating an issue that never was, is exactly that; pathetic and laughable. Those who can rise above this CRAP and live with full conviction and deeply lead-lives, must never resort to such low standards of thought and shallow approach about the existence of people, whatever country they live in, labelling people as a type of something is the evil of all evils. Those who vehemently believe in applying such offensive labels as 'coconut' will one day see themselves wish they hadn't, perhaps when they have families of their own or fall in love with someone of a race other than theirs. Finally about the 'doubt' surrounding my background, i'm not exactly sure what 'doubt' is implying here, still, its my inference that counts not what he implies; we had dealt with national front, riots which ended with couches being burnt, gang warfare amongst the holy smokes tutinungs, street parties, where all races of us kids would play in the streets, now picture it, do you really think any indian growing up in the seventies and eighties in southall had time to sit down and make up racist terms, like this generation does? A generation who believe they are far more superior in knowledge and intellect just because they can string a few words together and make it sound authoritative? Remember, the 21st century affords everybody the right to read and write, it's not difficult to makeout that something is relevant and important when it is not, i'll bet my entire bank account i can make a feasible case for eating human faeces, drinking urine and gulping down cold cups of sick, I can make it sound genuine, and with some research on the web I can probably convince you it can be medically viable and even critical in the most vital of life-threatening situations where food and water is scarce. But upon reading it would you go out and consider its relevance and immediately empty your bowels on a plate, urinate in a glass and then vomit in a tea pot and begin consuming these secretions? i think not and yet, you waste no time in taking head of the 'coconur' phrase. Food for thought, indeed.

    tut tut, here's where the doubter becomes the doubted.
  • who?
    By
    who?
    26.11.10 02:05 PM
    lee c'ho,

    No offence but if you're not even Indian, how could you understand where this comes from? Also, how could you understand why Black Americans do what they do (unless you are a Black American of course)? You might be better off commenting on something you actually know about.
  • doubt
    By
    doubt
    26.11.10 01:57 PM
    I seriously doubt Mr Prasad grew up in Southall as a second gen immigrant. If he did, he would be well aware of the word coconut and how it was used amongst Indians. I did grow up as a second gen immigrant and know that this is one of the words we used amongst ourselves. Pretty much all second gen immigrants in the UK would know that too.

    The article was written tongue in cheek and highlights an issue which is relevant to second gen immigrants. There is nothing wrong with this article, it deserves a place on what is supposed to be an NRI blog as it covers an issue which alot of NRIs can relate to.
  • lee c'ho
    By
    lee c'ho
    25.11.10 05:28 PM
    Thank god I’m not Indian!!

    So embarrassing how you all take a serious issue and triviolise it.

    Reminds me of how black americans call them selves the word of slavery and parody it proudly, doesn’t make sense in this age we live to do it, out of fashion, I say and the only people who look like fools are the ones who say it
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    21.11.10 03:26 AM
    Jason, I hear what you are saying and I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to clarify your position. I don't know what more to say other than to echo the author's position that no offence was meant. I have to admit I had originally not paid much attention to the piece until all of this debate.

    Just because I decide to publish an opinion piece, it does not necessarily mean that I agree the author's standpoint. You said it yourself - I allow the authors to write what they feel. And it's a healthy approach. At the very least it differentiates us from the other sites I invited you to follow.

    I am always on the look out for new authors, with different viewpoints. Some of the current writing team started of as readers, so....
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    21.11.10 02:41 AM
    I actually like your site, I think it's amazing how you're all contributing and engineering a community in the most organic way imaginable; by allowing people to simply write what they feel; travellers, academics, professionals, every the quality of writing and content of the pieces on your site are nothing short of excellent. That said, when a viewer such as myself tells all their friends about a site and some of these friends are married with children and and their wives/husbands are not indian but people from alternative races and backgrounds, and they all from time to time access your site, but then one day they come across a piece that highlights something they never ever thought was an issue and it stirs up arguments and creates bad blood between family members, than i feel obligated to say something, as I had introduced your site. You will have noticed, i never comment about anything on your site, because I do not feel the need to, writers write for readers, and readers read for writers, i am merely a reader, nothing more. But this piece possessed me to respond with what you deem as just opinions, but from my angle is firmly rooted in facts. It is not right that just because indians born in other nations and are considered as adoptees of that nation, and these born and bred simply do what other born and bred folks do there, but then are suddenly considered to be 'coconuts'? Compounding this further is the fact that Alfred admitted to not knowing about this, the same situation that friends of mine were innocently in until this article infected their eyes and suddenly they all feel like perhaps adam and eve must've felt after taking that sinful bite. It is simply wrong that something that was never an issue suddenly warrants a feature like this, just look at the impact words have had in history, wog, paki, nigger, yid, chink, honky, I have to actually stop as I feel bad typing this. Now please don't claim the word 'coconut' in the context you have used it to address something that makes sense out of a view that ought not to be made sense of, isn't the same. Because it is derivative and adding profundity to its use in the way it has been used is not clever. What if I told you I know a group of siblings - brothers and sisters - who were around ten years old and were seperated in the 1980s and they floated from several foster families, neither of whom were indian and were eventually adopted by a Christian family in the end, a family who continued to allow them to be Hindus and it all happened in Middlesex, London. This is the truth and I feel it is important you know that a wasteland of people like them exist and live in London and other cities across the world and do not subscribe to using the word of a fruit; which is the name of something that is, but you are now suddenly using it to convey something that is completely unnatural. You will have noticed that common insindiaries and profanities uttered are often made up and their meaning is used to project only that intended noun, i.e., shit, fuck, cunt, arsehole each serve effective. But coconut is a fruit why not look at the history of the coconut. If you really wish to examine obscenities why not choose one from those I've listed, why select a noun that already has the intended meaning and then try to switch-shift the word and further its meaning so that coconut now also represents something that is crude and off putting. It's wrong to do this. Okay, you may believe the word has already been commonly used amongst select indians
    for decades, but to highlight its use and bring it to the forefront actually propagates its danger and cements in this view. I heard some author has recently published a book using the word in his title in the same context that you have used, and this author has done it to make a quick buck, he has sold his soul for profits. I just don't understand why you people insist on, one, being proud of the fact that you have recognised a symptom that perfectly marries up to the word coconut and, two, using the word and laughing about it. I can not believe a person is proud about identifying a racial issue and then goes further by adding various shades of coffee and teas. People are being murdered by their own families for adapting and conforming to the ways of the nation they are born in and you people choose to humour yourselves by keeping this article active? Have even read the honor killings article on your own site? My god what is the matter with the world, do you people not realise the wrong by keeping this article active? This is very upsetting, very upsetting
  • Alfred Jones
    By
    Alfred Jones
    21.11.10 02:37 AM
    Jason,

    So you saw "Alfred Jones" and came up with "Europeans’/Americans’/Austrailasias’" huh? Now t.h.a.t is funny! I'm as Indian as they come my friend - in fact, I grew up in a part of India where the coconut has a hallowed place in almost all aspects of daily life. So the whole "my culture and heritage that supersedes his by several thousand years" is, well, tonked for a six.

    (And incidentally, if I applied your logic to decide who is qualified to comment on articles on this site and who isn't, I'd have you beat by a mile and a half. That is, IF, I applied your logic. Which I won't. Everyone has a right to weigh in on any topic so long as they follow certain basic rules of engagement. And no one's take is illegitimate just because they weren't born in a certain country, didn't grow up speaking a particular language, celebrate specific occasions or eat a particular type of food.)

    But seriously, can't we be proud Indians AND poke a little fun at ourselves while we're at it? So you take exception to Meera using the term "coconut" in her piece. Do you know how many similar racially/ethnically charged terms we Indians use in our daily dealings with each other? Point is, there are contexts where terms like "coconut", "ABCD", "bomman", "madraasi", "surd", "golti", "kongati" etc are benign. In fact they enrich the interactions we have with each other, and when used skillfully can be downright hilarious. Which presumes of course that both parties are in agreement with the requisite context. Meera's use of "coconut" was similarly benign and very chuckle worthy.

    What is also clear is, claiming several thousand years of glorious civilization is no substitute for a healthy sense of humour.

    ~alfred
  • The NRI
    By
    The NRI
    20.11.10 11:52 PM
    Just because your nose is out joint from someone disagreeing with your point of view (much like you disagree with another), do not take your frustration out with ridiculous and baseless accusations against me or this organisation. From one who is jumping on other people for making assumptions your comments are a bit rich.

    Your previous comments were published. One was not approved as I deemed it to be a completely over the top attack on the author. That was my call as an editor. Meera had already addressed your original comment very politely and offered her apologies for any offence caused. It seemed though, you were on a crusade.

    Before you come back - as you seem like someone who always wants to have the last word - I will suggest that if this site offends you so much, you should not waste any more of your valuable time on it. There are plenty of similar sites out there, and some may subscribe to your specific point of view, whatever that may be...
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    20.11.10 09:26 PM
    "Hilarious post Meera. I was not familiar with that meaning of "coconut" - how apt" Well done Meera, you have finally achieved what you intended to, to add a yet a further layer of discrimination in Alfred's mind against people of ethnicity who are trying their best to assimilate in the West in order to be successful. Meera, your post has now armed Alfred with just one of a plethora of weapons that are at any Europeans'/Americans'/Austrailasias' disposal to use against us. And this is a man who is advising me to take, what was that embarrassing cliche he used "chill-pill" my God felt like eating my feet when I read that !! Point is, Alfred commented on the heart felt honor killing article written by Asishe Seth http://www.the-nri.com/index.php/2010/11/honor-killings-and-indian-culture/comment-page-1/#comment-3152 where he's written about the indian's need to "control and manicure how the younger members of one’s family appear and behave in public is endemic in India and elsewhere. These parents also assume that their kids’ conformity to whatever misguided flavour of “Indiannness” they subscribe to is a fundamental responsibility of theirs don’t they? Which is why they react so strongly when their flock strays right?"

    So now we have this Alfred who assumes he's qualified to firstly comment on my culture and heritage that supersedes his by several thousand years to firstly agree, and quite seriously he does too, on "conformity to whatever misguided flavour of “Indiannness”only for him to now suddenly dismiss the vital importance and the impact that labelling people of my Indian background who are merely enjoying the experience of other cultures as "Coconuts," actually truely has on society. It's obvious all of you find this use of prejudicing people as coconuts is fine and dandy and makes for great humour and you probably think it's true, if so than please i invite you to also condone those whom you would readily label as coconuts to be murdered by the firm gripping hands of their own families, yeah ha bloody ha!! Funny isn't it people.

    Fact is Indians will never learn contemporary 21st century attitudes of what is so clearly wrong and what is so clearly right, by writing posts to me laughing at the labelling of coconuts you have demonstrated a level of thought and intellect that obviously ends where mine begins and this is not because I'm cleverer than you, I just know the impact of words and labelling has, be it written or verbal, and how it can drive a mass hysteria of thought that can often end up as a sinister movement like the ones Hitler or Stalin had started. I doubt that this post will ever reach the site as i suspect the editor lives up to the notion of a corrupt Indian and serves his role well in this regard, if it does then i am wrong and I apologise, i doubt it though because my previous replies weren't ever posted, self-perpetuating corruption is obviously endemic to this site, you people make me wish I was indian, luckily when I travel to India it is still a country that makes me proud to be one.
  • Alfred Jones
    By
    Alfred Jones
    19.11.10 08:26 PM
    Hilarious post Meera. I was not familiar with that meaning of "coconut" - how apt. I'm going to use it the next time my ABCD wife puts on Enya instead of Ed Duje Ke Liye ;-)

    As for Jason Prasad's dual rants, oh please go take a chill pill will ya?

    ~alfred
  • Wonderful
    By
    Wonderful
    08.11.10 04:15 PM
    Wonderful post. As a British Asian I can totally relate to this. Nicely done and humorous too. I'm not sure what Jason Prasad is on about - all the british asians I know can totally relate to this. Offensive? Not in the slightest. Keep it up, would love to see more posts like this!

    This, to me, is exactly what an NRI website should be about. It addresses an important issue to second gen immigrants. Well done!
  • Ankit Gupta
    By
    Ankit Gupta
    08.11.10 06:09 AM
    Why crib so much? You're neither coconutty nor relate anything remotely to a coffee. Too much "white noise" in you
  • sonny
    By
    sonny
    23.09.10 04:36 PM
    Enjoyed this post a lot, though would have liked to see the topic fleshed out a bit further.
  • Prerna
    By
    Prerna
    09.07.10 05:50 PM
    Wonderful post. Maybe the next one could be on acquiring a sense of humour, what say?
  • MD
    By
    MD
    04.05.10 04:37 AM
    I'm sorry if you found it insulting and offensive. However, the post was written as a light and humourous dig at people who freely use the term 'coconut' based on a very loose idea of what it means to be Indian, the point being that to be be or feel Indian is not so defineable and is certainly about much more than chosen pursuits.

    To clarify, I am NOT seriously advocating we use hot drinks as an alternative term (I'll also add that nor do I think Indians are stupid that they would adopt this analogy!) That is part of the joke. If people are going to use a food/drink item like a coconut to crudely label people, I've come up with one in which at least has a little variety to it - coffee. But it is a tongue-in-cheek suggestion, NOT a genuine proposal to replace one ridiculous label (coconut) for another.

    I hope that goes some way to clearing up what you find offensive.
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    04.05.10 03:18 AM
    Granted, but writing the piece that you have is inflamatory and just reinforces the very status quo that you are attempting to defend, albeit rather weakly. Like I said this is the 21st century and as British Indian-Fijian myself, I do not appreciate anyone positioning themselves so inaccurately as ambassadors for people like me; the NRL website is a good vehicle for things, but certainly elevating yourself as someone who is representative of the masses, especially here in Europe, is quite simply wrong! Whoever taught or mentored you in journalism did a very bad job as you wield your pen like a psychopath who is in possession of a weapon - you have complete disregard for race, colour and cultural diversity, had you any understanding you would not write something so plainly arcane as comparing hot drinks to skin colour. Do you really think Indians are stupid why else would you use such a dumb analogy. I find your patronising to Indians and above all your credentials that you consider amount to journalism are anything but, you don't make the grade, anyone can write like you, but to write in a way that exudes intelligence and invokes thought, well, you certainly don't achieve it by writing an insulting and deeply offensive piece such as this. Furthermore, some of my friends are married to white British people, your disregard for evolution and the forging of cultural and racial alliances means your thinking drastically needs to be bought up to contemporary standards. Read some books, get an education, speak to people, all the travelling you're doing tells me you have only learnt how to comment on the use of coconuts as a metaphor for appearing one way and yet thinking another. Might I suggest when writing you search the soul first and really hone in on those parts of your brain that haven't been contaminated or polluted with cliches, that way you wont end up offending people like me
  • MD
    By
    MD
    04.05.10 12:26 AM
    As the writer of the post, I wanted to reply back to the above comment. My post was written with tongue firmly in cheek, to point out that when Indians refer to fellow Indians as coconuts merely for preferring something Western to something Eastern, this preference does not necessarily make them 'less Indian'. Where I grew up, this term was bandied quite frequently, and more often than not, inaccurately and with the intention to make people feel they were denying their heritage based on superficial choices. I may have preferred certain so-called Western pursuits at times, but I was no less Indian for it.
  • jason prasad
    By
    jason prasad
    13.03.10 04:44 PM
    writing about something that isn't even an issue that warrants a full stop, you clearly do not understand the responsibilities a writer has; when architects plan out structures they take an array of issues into account, with safety being the primary concern. As someone who clearly feels they are an engineer of words, you are ill trained, perhaps you do not realise it is the 21st century and that cohesion of peoples' thoughts, behaviour, attitudes on a global scale is not something that can be slotted into a stereotyped, cliche-ridden "I think this..., I think that..., perhaps this..." you're pathetic!!! Highlighting areas of, what you believe is culture, only serves to divide and segregate further, perhaps that's your mission. Maybe your next article will be about how in spite of ethnic minorities born and bred here in the UK, they still feel rooted elsewhere as they remain supportive of cricket teams from their motherland's. Do you not realise by pointing out the obvious you are tearing apart a nation and firmly cementing in a boundary that really didn't exist before the words in your copy attacks the eyes of readers like myself. You're not cutting edge, you're primitive. I'm Indian and I grew up in southall, so I know a thing or two about one or two things you do not know. Perhaps in the future you will think twice before poising your fingers over the keyboard and deciding to defecate with a piece that is so irritating and cringe inducing. Please stop embarrassing yourself.
  • A Singh
    By
    A Singh
    15.02.10 04:16 AM
    Lol....love the idea of a new "coffee index"! I think my rating changes from a dark espresso to milky latte depending on my mood, company and what country I am in.
  • Nikhil
    By
    Nikhil
    15.02.10 03:28 AM
    Enjoyed your post!

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