Monday, December 06, 2010

THE "CHINKY" FACTOR

Everyone smiles in the same language.  ~Author Unknown

Time & again, well-wishers, admirers or plain curious people have asked me this: Didn't I get offended by the racist chinky jokes made at my expense on Indian Idol, Badmaash Company & the like? This is a tough one to answer, primarily because I consider myself so much of an Indian that I often fail to separate myself from the crowd & forget that my roots are Chinese. It's only when others hold up a mirror do I see the stark contrast. I'm rudely reminded of how I look when somebody derogatorily calls me a Nepali/Manipuri/Japanese/Chinese/Malaysian. But then, there are people who are genuinely curious/confused about my roots and I answer their questions with patient honesty. Here is where I draw a line of distinction between malicious profanities & innocent queries. 

This conscious decision was aptly illustrated through my experience in Badmaash Company, where the jokes were in good humor & indirectly attempted to show society how the so-called 'aliens', the different looking people amidst us are perceived and how it can push them to the edge. There are two clinching points in the film to this end. One is when I, Zing, pick up a fight with an Indian couple because they aim unpalatable barbs at me in Hindi, assuming that I don't understand the national language (something that happens quite often to me in real life). Second, when Zing makes it clear even to his friends that "I'm not a cheeni, I'm Indian", thus taking a stance that if I'm not confused about my identity then neither should anybody else. This permission to "speak-out" on celluloid about this matter is what attracted me to the character of Tenzing in the first place. He's a carefree, un-ambitious kind of fellow; fiercely protective of his identity, who doesn't mind good-natured ribbing from his friends but knows when to tell them to quit it. 

Indian Idol, however, is a different story altogether. A good show, according to the masses is one which has "action, emotion, drama, comedy" et al. When we as a team get down to deciding the presentation of the show, my looks & origin provide for some comic relief in what can sometimes become a very emotion-heavy episode. It has been used to great effect so far and very honestly, I didn't mind it at all. However, everything comes with a tolerance level and keeping not only my sentiments in mind but also those of the Chinese & North-eastern communities of India, I very humbly refuse to do these chinky jokes anymore. Nobody gets offended, the reel-life show goes on & everyone is happy. However, the jibes continue in real life & I can only hope that the ignorant learn their lesson either before the victims strike back with a vengeance or this becomes mere background music to those of my kind.

It will take time, and I shall wait for it with bated breath & a smile on my face :)

34 comments:

  1. Anonymous6:15 AM

    Hi Meiyang,
    So sorry to read this posting. Being someone of similar background - a Chinese born in India who spent almost my entire teens in India, I fully understand your inner feelings and struggles of identity. However, that's not the end of the world. Always be yourself. Be positve and happy. There are always better days ahead with a rainbow in the horizon. You are not alone. SMILE.

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  2. Anonymous1:57 PM

    Meiyang,
    Personally, I believe the jibes will stay. Probably, they will get worse before any better. The best bet is to remain cool and laugh off with a smile. When push come to shove, just say "no" diplomatically. In entertainment business, there are no permanent friends or foes. Promoters and film directors are looking for products that sell. The secret of survival is to constantly upgrade one's skills and stay ahead drawing audience followers. Wish you luck. Be happy always and all the best.

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  3. hiiii bhaiyya i am so touched with what u have said... i pray 2 god dat ur wish would fulfill soon... we all love u and ur my idol and will be forever.. jst ignore the critics... all the best... tkcr...

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  4. Hello,
    hmm i agree wid u ...but how does it matter sooo much..the world is meant 4 criticising..n wen god n we r thr wid u u no need get tensed..n
    PICTURE IS AWESOME!!
    LOVE!!

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  5. Sachi Gupta6:24 PM

    hi chang,...
    u know during indian idol,...i used to have a smile when dose jokes were put up...but after badmash company...i really started hating these "chinky" jokes.....nd i m sorry...sum of my cousins nd friends also make fun of ur chinese looks...nd i sincerely apolojize on their behalf.....but ya....i do tell dem dat u r truly an INDIAN by heart....nd dat is wat matters d most...so dnt worry...all those whu like u......will stand for u till d end.... luv u.... take care....

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  6. hi chang,
    Don't get offended by these things anymore.Cos your above it now.You've created an identity of yourself courtesy your great singing,acting and hosting.So be cool.People are always there to taunt us when they're jealous of our success!!!
    So what projects in the pipeline for you now?

    Aniket

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  7. Anonymous10:31 PM

    u knw i have a totally diffent case as urs... as u told dat ppl used 2 pass jokes on ur chinese luks bt in my case dey used 2 make fun of ma indian luks... actually i m from U.P. nd m very proud of dat nd obviously my luks are UPian... coz of my dad's service me nd mah family used to live in Ladakh area nd u knw dats a Mongolian region nd when i went dere i was really very different frm dem nd dey used 2 make fun of my luks nd mah complexion... bt slowly dey understood dat evr1 is different has a beauty of its own kind..... nd i believe dat ppl will also understand in ur case... SO BE HAPPY AND DONT CARE WAT PPL SAY...
    MUDRA

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  8. You are an Indian.. and we are proud of you..

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  9. Hi Meiyang,

    Have u ever thought what goes in minds of ppl who have cuss words at their lips...discriminatory thoughts in their lives...these kind of ppl r empty of love...or have less confidence in them...or r brought up in certain way...all of them need compassion...cause they dont have something you have...perhaps God wants u to wider your level of thinking...perhaps he teaches virtues like paitence, love for humanity, life lived with grace...in his own manner.

    When you cannot do anything in a given situation you better not let it affect you...and once it will have no effect on you...the spoken words would look only 'useless'.

    Think good, and it will come to you.

    BTW...yesterday you rocked.

    Keep Smiling.

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  10. Meiyang, I shared it on FB, hope you don't mind. I look forward to your writing. Like many do. I think no one could have said this in more profound clearer way. You amaze me every time I read your blog. Your clarity of thought is inspiring. I leave here feeling strangely smug that I understand. And you my friend are the brain behind it..ha..you sharpen is well. I don't think I can pat your back, I don't feel qualified, but if you do have people in your life that deserve the right- have them pat it for me.

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  11. CrazyFanOfChang7:19 PM

    Hi Meiyang!

    I love your writing skills and this one is an very thought provoking post. I can understand your frustration. But just let those people go to hell who are such sadistic sneaks....they're just mighty jealous!

    P.S: I'll make sure I crack the skull of any damn person who makes stupid racist comments on you ;)

    P.P.S: I love you....the writer, the actor, the singer, the host, THE PERSON! :)

    Loads of love,
    CrazyFanOfChang

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  12. Anonymous2:35 PM

    Whenever I'd see friendly jibes made at u during ur tv appearances, I'd cringe. As an indian living outside of india, it made me feel bad that people in india do not realize how wrong racist jokes are.

    Being "ethnic" indian, my community is also subject to these sort of jokes. I am a punjabi and every1 knows about Sardar jokes and even though some may find them funny, they do not realize how hurtful and wrong jokes are. Some of those jokes have made a mockery of historical stories(12 o'clock joke). Either people don't realize or don't care about the fact that these men lost their lives so u could make fun of their sacrifice

    Don't feel alone and DO NOT stand for them. You are as indian as me or any of the buffoons out there making fun of you, if not more.

    For those of u saying that he shouldn't take it seriously and its just fun. Clearly u or ur community have not been subject to such jokes or ur quite dense. Come out the dark ages and grow up. These jokes are morally wrong. If u don't stand up and say no more, people will continue and u will b a joke and disrespected.

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  13. Hiii Chang, ur posts r realy thought provoking...i realy feel sad when i read ur blogs relating to racial issues...feel guily to knw dat dey r many INDIANS who luv to make fun on sch a sensitive matter...bt u jst least care about sch ppl....u knw wht i realy feel proud nd a smile cums on ma face by thinking that v share same nationality ...i wud hve been so jealous if u were frm sum other nation..so always be happy nd cheerful,ur fans r always wid u :)

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  14. Hi Chang,

    First time I saw you... I was surprised...seriously. I am now watching Jhalak Dikhla Jaa, and I will vote online for you next week!

    Thanks,

    Aishah

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  15. Michelle10:17 AM

    I JUST THINK YOU'RE SOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO HOT!! SO SCREW THOSE CHINKY JOKES! YOU'RE AWESOME AND YOUR WORDS REALLY TOUCHED MY HEART! GOD BLESS AND I WISH YOU ALL THE BEST AT JDJ

    Love
    Michelle

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  16. Bhavana12:49 PM

    Hie Chang..
    I am one of your crazy fans....I truly hate and criticize such jokes made and used by some idiots..
    We know and are proud to know that you are an INDIAN..
    People like those need a psychiatrist..thats it..!

    __________

    btw i <3 ur smile.. ^_^
    i have been following you since the time pf Indian Idol.. (hav a big tym crush on u)
    n now that you are performing so well in Jhalak Dikhla Ja, i vote for you as much as i can!
    Keep up the good work!

    <3 <3 <3
    :)

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  17. Good for your Chang!!! Making it clear that you wont stand the jibes and jokes anymore shows you have a backbone.

    Its very distasteful, in my opinion, when people make jokes and jibes directed toward any population. I've never liked it. Certainly doesn't serve to bind hearts so how is it useful? Never understood why people do it. Just proves their shallowness and I'd rather not be subjected to that either. Full stop! So you see I am glad that you have a backbone :)!

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  18. Hi!

    I love you in Jhalak and you're doing really really well! Hope you win the JDJ trophy!

    Love u loads....have been a fan of yours since II .....:) muahh

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  19. Anonymous2:07 AM

    Hi, Meiyang.............If u are offended by being called a nepali/manipuri/malaysian/chinese..........I am offended by the fact that u find it offensive for being mistaken as these raceS and nationalities by other people. As a nepalese myself, I found the word "DEROGATORILY", u used to desCRIBE YOUR EMOTION for being called as such. I understand that u were born and brought in India and hence u consider urself an Indian and it's a good thing that u are proud to be one.

    There are many other countries and many races in this world and for being mistaken as other races is not a derogatory remarks because every race feels proud to be themselves. We are born to these races, we don't choose to be it. Once we are born we should learn to appreciate different races. People make mistakes as all the Asians look alike. It could be genuine and honest mistakes. I am happy that you are proud to be Indian but at the same time u should also be proud of your roots i.e. chinese and the fact that chinese also look like vietnamese,cambodian, malaysian,japanese etc.
    You FIND being called as nepali/chinese/malaysian derogatory but how about the fact that u feeling such for being considered as these races and coming out on your blog and writing it is not a derogatory remark to these races. To see that, one of their idol finds it derogatory for being mistaken as one of their nationality. How do you think we would feel about that? Have u ever thought about that? U find it offensive when someone does it to u but how about u doing the same thing at the moment in ur blog right now ?? Isn't it offensive to us. U try to come out as a victim here...........but who is the victim of your words right now, Meiyang. Please, Have a good look and think twice b4 u write such things and make such comments in ur blog because the whole world from every race reads your blog.

    In the end, ask yourself............How r u any different??

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  20. changfan10:23 AM

    Hey Chang just saw ur Stomp and beatbox act and found it really amazing....how do YOU manage to look so hot?! I mean your look this week was just super sexy. Like Bhavana up, i too have the biggest crush on you hope to meet u some day. love u to d core...and i already said it bt in the stomp act u wer just gorgeous and performed DAMN well. u ought to win

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  21. Qwerty4:19 PM

    Hi Chang,

    I have a BIG crush on you since II. Now I guess I've fallen in love with you. I admire you and your numerous talents and how you work hard upon them. But in my opinion, the most endearing thing about you is your charming personality. I've learnt so much about you from your blog. Your writing skills are simply fab, you ought to write a book, no kidding! And I adore your thoughts.

    I'm REALLY enjoying your dancing in JDJ. May you win and continue to get such rocking scores from the judges!

    I love you Chang, you are an absolute sweetheart, I'm totally obsessed over you. Best wishes and loads of love from my side.

    By the way I really wanted to chat with you on 14 January at setindia, but I couldn't connect till the last minute, when you were saying your goodbye. I was really really disappointed, almost to the extent of crying out loud, thank god I was in a cyber cafe and couldn't attempt such a feat.

    In short all that I wanted to say is, "I love you".

    I hope you are reading this :-)If you are, plz answer one question which is always on my mind, does it ever bother you that everyone calls you by your last name instead of your first? And was this always the case even when you were not famous? Plz do answer.

    Love you like hell....muaaahhhhh <3<3<3<3

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  22. manika7:45 PM

    @Anonymous : I understand your point but you are being extremely sensitive and taking things at face value itself. Chang did not once state that he felt bad because people mistook him as belonging to other races since these races are inferior or something, what he meant was most definitely this, ki because people do not regard him an Indian just because he looks a lil different, that hurts him.

    I think you misunderstand. Chang only meant that it can be frustrating to be considered an outsider in your own country. Also, it's not that people are always genuinely confused about his identity. I know a boy who looks a bit "chinky" and and he is very distastefully called "bahadur" or "saala cheeni" by some losers.

    Chang was IMO, just trying to say that being so abusively labelled as "nepali" etc is annoying not because he has something against these races, but because he is an INDIAN and yet he's often not treated as one.

    Just my two cents. By the way Chang, I love you.

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  23. Hie Meiyang,
    Very very well written. Youve put down your sentiments in such a good flow, touching in a very subtle manner. it must be very annoying, to put it in the least, to go through what u r going through at all times. i wish people get over it. or atleast bored of talking about d same thing! i think Jhalak Dikhla Ja mustve come as a relief, with not a single jibe, atleast till now. It'l stop, it'l stop. :)
    u r very multi talented, by the way. im on my way to becoming a dentist too, it is definitely not an easy thing. n what's more difficult is to not let ur talents fade out. Bravo! U have done it!
    Love, Nupur.

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  24. Thought Provoker4:05 AM

    Dear Meiyang,

    First of all, let me congratulate you for the great improvement you have shown in your dance skills at JDJ. For me you represent the true spirit of JDJ.

    I must also appreciate your skills in writing, they are great unlike mine. But as this topic is quite sensitive I decided to share my observations on it.

    What I feel is these so called racist jokes have a common ingredient of Majority vs Minority. This Majority / Minority numbers are not decided by holistic calculations of the whole country but the numbers which happen to be just around at the moment of time/place.

    I am a Punjabi but I have spent all my schooling years in Himachal and have made many friends who had looks similar to our North-Easternians . I was also privileged to have met some tibetans monks who have made Dalhousie as their home. As far as I can remember I never came across any such racist jokes at that time. But yes there were some situations were jokes were made because of funny english accents.

    Later on, while being in Punjab, I happen to join an educational institution where there were students from different parts of India (but 50% from Punjab). I came across many such situations where all the students who are not from Punjab were considered to be outsiders and were made fun of.

    Then in my professional life one of my dear south indian friend while working in Punjab was so shocked and put almost to tears by a Sardar just because he was speaking in broken punjabi.

    Even in one of the previous episodes of DID Doubles, some jokes were made at the expense of an south indian pair. I don't know if they were sporting enough but I definitely felt bad.

    I have encountered many situations where punjabis (Sardards & Hindus) made fun of poor Bihari labourers who have come to Punjab to earn their living.

    Needless to say, I have also come across many instances where Sardars are a laughing stock and no joke is considered complete unless it has Surd element in it.

    I haven't been to other parts of India, but I am sure there also will be people who will make fun of so called outsiders. I won't be surprised if for some people my looks will be a laughing stock if I happen to be in North East.

    Now I am abroad, but even here people make fun of others (who are not around or are in minority). Depending on the group, the jokes can be made at regional basis, blondes, langaues (Italians, French) etc.

    I am not trying to generalize here of course not everyone does it. But to cut it short, in my view it is human mentality to make fun of people who are "Not" from the same group / ethinic origin / race as "them".

    Now my question is where it should stop. For me I always try to follow the principal of - Only the person who can enjoy the jokes made at his / her expense should make fun of others.


    Signing off.....

    Keep up the good work in JDJ, I really hope you win (Unfortunately I can't vote for you, even the online voting requires an Indian mobile operator number).

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  25. Filmbuff10:47 AM

    Well said Thought Provoker. I too live abroad and even those Indians who have moved away from India for years now continue to have prejudices against fellow Indians. Recently a punjabi lady (very nice and motherly) said to me " when people speak tamil, i feel as if a can of stones are rattling". I have been hearing this kind of remark since my childhood (was born in UP and spent my early childhood there) and growing up years. Hearing this again overseas sort of got to me. I politelty told the lady with much affection that her comment really hurts me coz Indians don't seem to have learned anything despite the social and economic fabric of India changing so much. She actually apologised to me. It takes time but if one leaves these things alone then they tend to fester. I think prejudices against people from rest of India was very well pointed out in "Chak De India" - pls refer to the instances relating to the girl from AP and the ones from NE when they come to enrol in the hockey training camp.

    Meiyang Chang, this is my first visit to your blog and will definitely not be the last. I have seen you hosting Indian Idol during my visits to India on holidays and have been very impressed with your hosting skills and your fluency in hindi. Keep up the good work.

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  26. Xiao Hei1:35 AM

    Hello Meiyang,

    I am of Indian origin and accidentally bumped into your blog while I was doing some research on the Chinese diaspora in India.

    Your story is quite similar to 'Lou Jing', whom I read about a few months back. Both of you share the same issues, in a way. I wouldn't like to spill the beans, so check it out for yourself when you have the time :-)

    Cheers.

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  27. Hi Chang,

    I was both happy and sad to read this. Happy that you're speaking your mind and sharing your experiences with us. Sad because of the situation and experiences that you've had to go through.

    My personal opinion on this matter is that it's definitely going to take a while before these "jokes" stop.

    But, the most important thing is that in any given situation, any given moment, we can ONLY control OURSELVES. That's it. We can't control what others say or do.

    We can ONLY control OUR reactions and thoughts to each experience we go through. And I think that's a very important point to keep in mind.

    It's something that I think we tend to forget sometimes, when we let others' remarks or comments take us down an emotional pit or have us "raging" unnecessarily.

    So whenever I'm faced with a situation like this, I just try to maintain my cool and turn the other way. There's no point in letting others pollute my mind and my life by some choice words.

    I know it's easier said than done, but it's like Dalai Lama said:

    "Happiness is not something ready made. It comes from your own actions."
    - Dalai Lama

    "I find hope in the darkest of days, and focus in the brightest. I do not judge the universe."
    - Dalai Lama

    Cheers!
    Parin

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  28. Shimran1:45 AM

    Hello Meiyang,

    As an American of Indian descent who is fond of Chinese culture, I stumbled upon your blog while researching the Chinese in India.

    I have come to realize that Indian is a nationality, not an ethnicity. The Northeasterners are as Indian as those anywhere else. It is what makes this nation truly remarkable. We put too much emphasis that being Indian is equivalent to being brown. If one can be a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu, a Christian, or even Jewish and call themselves Indian, then certainly it applies to those of a different ethnicity. In the end, India is home to all who choose to reside in it and the culture of India is as much a part of you as your Chinese heritage. I am jealous that you can claim two extremely rich heritages!

    I am saddened by the fact that being labeled from the Northeast has become an insult, when some truly beautiful women (such as Akuonuo Khezhie) hail from that region.

    Ultimately, you are more Indian that I am as I have not lived there. Also you are in a nation that seems to love and adore you and your work!

    I don't need to reassure you of something that is only a fact: You are Indian and India is proud of you!

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  29. commenting on looks is a very very very ridiculous thing the fact is looks are derived from the place a person originates so a south Indian will be called a kallu due to tropical climate nah its ridiculous eastern people have the traits similar to each other u see all Europeans should be called goras and goris

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  30. AmericanDesi12:33 AM

    Many Indians are pretty racist. I live in the USA and I routinely hear my fellow Indians refer to people of other races in a derogatory manner, especially blacks. Hopefully someday we can learn to look past our prejudices.

    Keep up the good work, bro. Good show.

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  31. Anonymous1:58 PM

    I am from the North-East and from Manipur and I don't get this deal that being from the North-East is an insult.
    Well, I guess in a way every community has some members who are prejudiced or ignorant.
    I am here in the US and I see Indians/Chinese being targets of racial/ethnic jokes like the one Chang is facing in India.
    I bet the Chinese in India do have some for the Indians.
    I am googling it now.... Ha Ha Ha

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  32. No long post - Just one thing I would like to say.

    ''You are Indian and India loves you!''

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  33. Anonymous4:07 PM

    Dearest Chang,

    I'm Indian-American, and trust me, I know EXACTLY how you feel. I've noticed that in almost every nation, be it America, England, India, Korea, stereotypes are almost always perpetuated. I can not speak for other Indian-Americans, but my family REALLY admires you, and a handful of people very much support you!

    Indians (and many other ethnic groups) are portrayed in a very stereotypical manner in the U.S. To be honest, I did not expect this kind of behavior from Bollywood. I watched Badmaash Company, and some of the "comedic" racist jokes offended me. Instead of fighting these preconceived notions and stereotypes that people tend to have, the media is a source that is perpetuating these stereotypes.

    Chang, you are Indian. Don't let anyone ever take that away from you. I wish you all the best! You are loved and adored by many!

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  34. Anonymous4:10 PM

    I also wanted to add, your story kind of reminded me of Lou Jing's. Please check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YQw1NyLCfW4

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