Things Not To Say To Sikh People
“You all look the same.”
“Let me guess, your name is Singh?” “I like you hat.”
Er, if you don’t mind, it’s a turban. “Oi, go back home.”
What to South East London mate? Um, yeah? “I like your hat.”
“Rag-head or like egg head.” “Have you had an accident? It looks like
you have a bandage on.” It’s a turban, and it comes in different
styles, it comes in different colours. “What’s under you turban?”
Thinking that it’s something magical under there, like I’ve got an extra brain or something.
If you see someone with a turban you instantly know he’s a Sikh, like there’s no denying
it. Well you can’t buy one of these, for starters.
It’s practice. People just think you get it and just put
it on your head. And there’s an actual…there’s a finesse,
there’s a process, there’s an art. There’s an art to tying the turban.
It’s basically like a piece of cloth that’s on this table, and it’s a bit longer, it
wraps around my head three times. I have many different types of turban underneath
this. It’s like Russian Dolls, when you take one out there’s another one, you take
one out there is another one. It’s a symbol, it’s my crown, it’s my
Repping the paag anyway. Repping my tradition.
I look good in it anyway. Exactly.
Don’t worry about it. “Can you sing, Singh?”
Yeah, ama-Singh-ly. The middle name Singh was given by the 10th
Guru to all the guys. I’m a female Sikh, so I’m a Kaur.
Because I’ve not got Kaur in my name, they’re like, “But you’re not really Sikh then.”
Every white guy has an Indian friend and they get really excited when they meet you, be
like, “Oh I know an Indian guy. His name is so and so, you must know him.”
“Do you know Jagpal? Do you know Jagpal?” Yeah we go back in like Africa. No we don’t.
No we don’t. You’d always wait for your name on the register
and you’d just wait for that teacher to pronounce it wrong.
They’ll be like, “John?” Yeah, “James?” Yeah, “Patrick?” Yeah. And then Am…
You can see them struggling, they’re like, “Karamvir” , genuinely trying to, they’re
really trying as well. It’s the commitment to get it out.
I was like, oh I signed my name, you know Poonam. And she was like, by the end of walking
me around, she was like, “It was really great to meet you Susan.”
And I was thinking, “Who the fuck is Susan?” “Are you Muslim?”
I get this a lot. “Are you though? Are you Muslim?”
No. They don’t understand that there are different
types of brown people. Yeah.
When you do tell them, “I’m Muslim, I’m not Sikh.” They’re like, “Oh ok,”
Like they get sort of relieved, like “Oh thank God you’re not a Muslim.” That is,
I find that really offensive. Because there are similarities in both religions,
but obviously there is a big difference in how we live our lives to a certain extent.
Everything post, you know, all those events, we’ve also taken that on, because people
presume we’re Muslim, we get that abuse as well as Muslim people.
But then I think when it comes to that point, is when people start saying, “Are you Muslim?”
I say no. They say, “Are you sure?” And I’m a bit like, “Erm… I don’t
know last time I checked.” At home, my Mum told me this morning, “You’re Sikh, have
a good day.” “You all look the same.”
Well clearly not, because, because you know… We don’t.
I’ve had other Sikhs telling me we all look the same.
And it’s when people use it as a way of you know like, apologising as a get out. So
if they’ve said, “Oh I thought you were Muslim. Oh no sorry, it’s just because you
all look the same.” People always say to me, “Oh you really
look like that girl from ‘Goodness Gracious Me’.”
It doesn’t matter who you are or where you’re from, you want to be like you, you don’t
want to be like, your cousin, your brother, or like someone else that wears a turban and
a beard, it’s like no. Not every Sikh looks like that, you get girls
obviously that have long hair, short hair. The whole idea of having a turban and a beard
and having this kind of identity was to look different was to stand out the crowd.
I think that’s my favourite thing about Sikhism, it doesn’t matter what gender you
are, or what kind of background you’re from, everyone is equal.
So My family has never differentiated me, if i ever get into a fight, they’re not
like, “Don’t you’re a girl.” My grandad was like, “Did you smack him in the face
or not?” and I was like, “Yes I did.” Good on you. “You smell like curry.”
Yeah and what? And what? I eat that.
You eat it don’t you? You don’t always smell like curry. Obviously
you’re going to smell like what you cook in your house.
You know what, it’s really funny, growing up, you were always aware, When your Mum is
making a dish at home and there’s a strong smell and you had to go out. And you’re
like spraying everything on you, because you don’t want to be a stink.
And you know when you smell it on the train and you think, “Oh that’s me! Is that
me? No that’s not me.” I smell like Gucci Guilty or something, it’s the person over
there. And actually curry is great.
Yeah, it’s like Britain’s number one dish for take away.
Yeah. I think curry smells like.
I mean I like a good curry, I don’t go to a curry house or whatever.
No you can’t beat traditional cooked Indian food.
I think if you walk passed a chippy it smells great, or whatever food it is.
Yeah. But it’s definitely the smell of our culture
and of our heritage. And we’re proud of it! But I was born here, so this is my country.
I don’t know how many other ways we can say this, I’m from Birmingham, born and
raised, this is my county. You take it for granted, they do mean, “Go
back to India.” It;s just like… I don’t want to.
Yeah I want to stay here. I don’t want to, I’m alright here thanks.
I love this country. So people will come up to me and they’ll
say, “Oh where are you from?” And I’ll say, “Oh, from the midlands.”
“Yeah, but where are you actually from? Where are you really from?”
“No, no, no, no, where are you from?” Birmingham, England.
And it’s such a beautiful culture, the food, the clothes, you know, there’s so much to
be proud of to be Asian in Britain today. Also another thing that I love is our history.
It’s so deep and it’s so rich and it’s beautiful.
And as a woman, it is so empowering to know, that even 200-250 years back, they were preaching
men and women being completely equal. You know, it’s just another thing I love
about that, being proud to rep that. Rep that. I love that word in the end. Rep
that! Rep that!