Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fobs vs ABCD's

We've heard it many times, the term "FOBS", especially thrown at our desi (Indian, Pakistani) community, meaning; Fresh Off the Boat. This term is not necessarily meant to be spoken in a derogatory way, but it is a means of lifestyle or certain look that is defined by "fobs".
What is a fob actually and who are fobs? Are they easy to detect?
Will their appearance stop us in the middle of our work and make us give them an extra glance, thinking that herbal hair oil might be dripping off of their neatly combed hair or that the heavy accent will easily give it away? Vaaatttt izzz your praablem ?!?! ;)

I am not judging or poking any fun to fobs and please keep in mind that I am not attacking any particular people, but just trying to understand the underlying concept of this very term which is often used in a jokingly manner or even in serious cases, resulting into insulting many a people that are plain immigrants trying to integrate into a society which is mainly built on their expertise. Heck, I may be a fob, you decide! :) Coming fresh off the boat, whether from India, Pakistan (Asia, Europe)..the challenges one faces are harder beyond the meaning of "fob". The traditions, culture and lifestyle that one leaves behind in motherland, may not be easily accepted by civilians of the newer countries. The United States however, with its melting pot of all different races and backgrounds, has over the years seen much diversity and I have found this country quite welcoming, not only to fobs but also to their very own different kinda people who happen to stand out of societal normalcy. Call it the Great America or the era of globalization where technology has made the world smaller by connecting our planet through the nanosecond channels of fast speed internet and the more intelligent working brains of the human.

Integration, globalization, outsourcing and international approach has become somewhat a household convenience whereas before for instance, calling AT & T for basic technical support would've never been a call answered by 'Peter' aka Prakash, sitting at a desk in a full buzz call center in Delhi, India. The very same people whom we call 'fobs' are taking care of a work load that is given upon them to strengthen not only the businesses based here, but also provide us with good consumer care. Whether the person is brown or purple does not really matter as long as the services are delivered professionally and efficiently don't u think? The fobs that are given opportunities to come and work for a country that thrives on intelligence, hard work and talent, may deprive them from the fresh naans of the bazaar or the colorful celebrations of their close-knit neighborhood, but it certainly gives them a sense of security; a future to rely on and make a good living -- achieving the American Dream that is a possible success for the ones who focus and make it happen.

Azam, an international student back in the years, says it clearly and very understandably; "Earn it". You can only earn it and not just have it. If you have it, then the lesson of earning should apply to your upbringing and if that fails, appreciation for such blessings are dawned to be taken for granted... which is why I would like to talk about the "American Born Confused Desis" = ABCD's. Again, without any judgments of any sort, this term will be taken into further study and analyses by me. I may not be the best candidate for this, since I consider myself to be in the middle of a Fob and ABCD. At times, I find myself extremely connected with my roots and heritage and then there are times when all of it seems to fall apart due to the unfairness and harshness that I see in my parents' homeland. It is the love and sympathy for the people that I find my own, but their dealings in either daily life or political matters, makes the love slowly chip away, taking place for skepticism and a cold distance that I haven't grown up with, yet this feeling is strong and irkes me of wanting to see improvement and development in a country that I so dearly hold to my heart. An identity of which I am very proud of, but pride isn't enough to sustain the deep connection I once felt in the past when stepping out of the plane and breathing in the air of sweet surrender in a rich culture full of similar faces, similar language.

Maybe the HBCD in me (Holland Born Confused Desi) is aware of the convenience of staying far away, but yearns for the familiarity of taste, culture & common understanding. However, the same HBCD persona in me collides with my fobbish background of wanting to have it all on the grounds of long as I am conscious of the decision making of my elders in moving into a place they thought would do good to future generations. Are the future generations doing any good? The ABCD term is usually applied to those who are perhaps dealing with an identity crisis and can't seem to figure out whether to be desi or american. Simply speaking, they maintain either a two face personality by portraying two distinguished lives , keeping it separate from the parents and their conservative desi traditional lifestyles -- making it harder upon themselves to decide who they are and what they want, therefore the confused and lost minds.

And then there are those who happen to live in two worlds, but have mastered to take out the best from each culture, making it a powerful combination-- where east and west can easily shake hands and proudly show off all the best attributes to the world by developing a trusting relationship with parents. This can only be achieved when parents themselves are willing to look into the complexities of living between two totally different societies and understand the needs and wants of a healthy balance. Parents' trust factor and sincerest involvement can make the ABCD kid, loose the C in Confused and establish a C for Confidence. :)

As for Fobs, they are cute. Just convert them into geeks or (imported) replicas of Bill Gates. There is always demand for more.


Anonymous said...

good sense... powerfull writing.

Rafi said...

Good sense... good thought... powerfull writing... ma'shallah:)

Naila said...

Thank you very much Rafi. I appreciate your comments!

Happy Blogging! :)

Vikas said...

Nice one.
Thanks for providing the link on my blog.

Anonymous said...

LOL, Once a FOB, always a FOB. the outlook might change, but FOB still stays inside.There is no middle...and middle is perhaps more boring too.

Parul said...

I love it. Especially the last paragraph where you include the 50-50s. I like to think of us as simply the NRIs. Not a FOB, and definately NOT an ABCD. And quite proud of themselves. =) And I definately agree with the last sentence, I know some really beautiful beings I term American Born Cultured Desis.

Anonymous said...

Very Interesting!
Thank You!