Servitude

I take the bus to the station from where I then take the train to downtown. On the bus the drivers always have their radios on and it is kept at high volume. The radio is used by the drivers to keep a track of all the conversations going on regarding traffic in various parts of the city, problems with buses, passengers etc. The passengers in first 2 or 3 rows generally cannot help but listen to all the conversations which is where I usually sit as I have to get off the bus as soon as it arrives at the station. The conversations are usually light hearted with most of the drivers on a first name basis with each other and always pulling each other’s leg. But every once a while I hear some south Asian on the radio (it is fairly obvious from the accent) and immediately notice the differences. The person always peppers his/her sentences with ‘sirs’ and the tone is always deferential. There is no attempt at humour and whatever humour is thrown at them seems to go ignored.

I have noticed this change in attitude among many of my fellow Asians whenever they are talking to white folk in Canada and the US. Why? Was the servility so ingrained by the British into our brains during the pre-independence days that it’s impossible to get rid of now? What’s the way out of this conundrum? I don’t think there is any way out of it. Even though South Asians and East Asians surge economically and are likely to be in a better place than their western counterparts in another 50 years or so, this inferiority complex will not go away soon. It will probably be many generations before this complex is laid to rest. I am happy to see, however, that the Asians born in North America or Europe are not aware of this issue. And with the growing Asian population in these regions, there is hope for the current generation to rid itself of this servile attitude.

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