Voulez-vous bhangra avec moi?

I’m a little annoyed, but I’m also a little sad. And this may be elitist, but I’m Lahori. We can get elitist. But no offense meant, I promise!

I get invited to a lot of South Asia-related events on campus, and I can say that I have not been to a single one since I first went to Northeastern. A lot of people would chalk that up to self-loathing, or seeing my identity as having westernized itself, or being a nation-traitor, or just complete apathy towards my heritage in general. If you’re one of my very good friends you know all of that to be categorically untrue. I know all those accusations to be antitheses to the very person I am. And, for the record, I do bhangra/faux-kathak in my room when I’m listening to desi music.

There’s going to be a South Asia week at Northeastern. I’m not going.

Your South Asia week won’t ease the pain of not having been home in five years. It won’t make me feel like I’m back walking the main market streets of Lahore, smelling molten jalebiyaan, hearing thait Punjabi that I can just about understand. It won’t give me the excitement I felt going to the various Rafi Peer Theater’s workshops and events and the literary festivals. It won’t look like any of the things I associated with Lahore – colors and trucks and massive, ancient willows and oaks, old buildings and new buildings, colonial and mughal and modern, parks with as much litter as flowers, old movie posters and huge billboards with Brad Pitt and Victoria’s Secret Angels, graffiti, poetry, political statements splayed across walls alongside beautiful murals painted by students from art schools, museums and boutiques, innumerable bookstores, innumerable dens of debauchery, innumerable beggars on the streets, innumerable women in their sleeveless kurtas-and-jeans and in their burqas-

Your South Asia week will only break my heart. It will only feel like a gimmick to me, and I’m sorry about that. I wish you the best of luck and I hope you have fun, but my identity doesn’t hinge on attending Bollywood zumba lessons, as much as sometimes I wish it did. My identity looks to the next time I go back to Pakistan, and I don’t half-ass my wishes.

But hey, if you want a private bhangra party, I will happily arrange that.

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