The Indian wedding that exploded in violence

Just up on Salon.com, my new essay. If anyone is wondering, this is not a story — the account is purely factual. Check it out here.

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It was the first days of the new year, and thrumming through the soles of my feet was that distinctive, hard-driving rhythm—the dhol drum singing out its bhangra beat. The dance floor was small, swallowed whole in a corner of the underground ballroom, but we were all crowded onto it, celebrating the closing night of the wedding. The speakers strained and gaudy lights painted our bodies in splashes of color and soon, after leaving the dance floor, I watched as a young Indian man newly arrived from a Midwestern city stammered across the ballroom toward a girl he claimed he loved with the simple plan of asking her to dance.

 He’d come here with friends, three young men looking to discover India, reconnect with their roots, learn something of the land their parents came from. In a minute, he’d be sprawled across the floor, his face streaming blood and I’d be racing toward his attacker, a relative of mine, who now hoisted a heavy steel chair high over his head and was about to bring it down with all his might and crush the foreigner’s skull.

“I get bored when everyone is going along nicely and not questioning”

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The fine folks at The Aerogram have published an extended interview with me on the book. Take a look here.

In my view, one of the central purposes of art is to unsettle, and to destabilize our own fixed notions of who we are, and who our fellow humans are. If, after having read this collection, the ground is a little more unsteady under the reader’s feet, then I’ve done my job. There’s something of the natural provocateur in me, and I get bored when everyone is going along nicely and not questioning the larger structures of their own lives. So I do hope that it provokes, and that it reaches those people who are at the moment sitting a little too comfortably in their own lives.

 


Praise from Booklist

On GOOD INDIAN GIRLS:

With adeptly drawn characters, Sidhu demonstrates a dexterous grasp of the human psyche, while the prevalence of dark twists displays his love of the fatalistic. This propensity for the morose will be of-putting for some but is sure to please those with a taste for black humor and shades of the diabolical.

Booklist (link here – paywall)


“It’s only a game, he shouted, voice fading on the wind.

Those very words. I could still feel the grip of his fingers where he had held my child’s arm, his hand, large, engulfing it, fingers touching at the tips. A line of grey already infected his beard, though a young man, yet even then retired, a national name. His beard tied back into a second, scruffy chin, a pink turban, his eyes on me, Watch the ball, not me, and again his voice, Watch the ball! But I always looked back into his eyes. Why was he here, why wasn’t he out there, where the newspapermen attacked each other for his photograph, where the radio sang his praises, where all India looked to the holy dirt his feet walked on? It’s only a game, he shouted. They said he had walked with Gandhiji to the sea. They said that he never, not even as a baby, wore anything but homespun. They said that on every corner he passed, an assassin waited – why? – but that divine forces protected him. I launched the cricket ball into the air, and it fell thudding in the hot dirt only a few feet away, a red, undistinguished ball, and he looked at me as though I, personally, had lost Pakistan.”

— from the story “The Order of Things” in Good Indian Girls. Pre-order your copy here.


On the Oak Park shootings

I didn’t write the headline on the published piece, and nor is that what I say. And the paragraph breaks on the online version are a mess. Not mine for sure.

As a Sikh, as an American, the latest, the murder of five Sikhs and a police officer at a gurudwara in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, hits home for me, and home hard.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2184531/Political-culture-blame-mass-shootings-guns.html#ixzz22oBmDcmi


Switch off the Bhangra

Switch off the Bhangra

In Punjab these days, the almost universal ubiquity of bhangra is creating a deadening musical monoculture, and it’s a monoculture that’s a broad reflection of the state of Punjabi culture as a whole.

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/indiahome/indianews/article-2183293/Switch-bhangra.html#ixzz22a111SQ8


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