I am watching the “explained” series on Netflix, they cover a wide variety of topics. I highly recommend it. After watching the episode on political correctness, the ideas I had on the subject have been stirred. It’s not clear where the line is drawn because as it refers to complex ideas.

But if you are yourself faced with what feels like a cosmic idea, the best you can do is start to form an opinion, and start from somewhere, otherwise you have to intellectually recoil in your corner afraid to be called a social pervert, a deviant, racist or anything you are scared of.

I was thinking about stereotypes projected on ethnic groups. Since I read THE ENIGMA OF REASON by Hugo Mercier and Dan Sperber in which they argue that humans not only have opinions about ideas they have but also on ideas that they think others have. This apparently from an evolutionary perspective allows us to place others in our social environment.

To come back to the stereotypes, when it comes to assumptions about Indians (I have to start somewhere to make a point), I have seen people make fun of Indians using negative stereotypes like how Indians smell like Curry and Indians themselves display pride as they refer to the positive stereotypes like the high number of doctors in USA. The point I am trying to make is that they are both stereotypes.

I am a teacher and cartoonist now, but I used to feel bad in a way when I would go to a meetup event and before I can finish saying what my job is, the person in front of me would guess it for me:

-Hey I work in the Automotive Industry…

-Are you an engineer?

No, I work in Purchasing, I am a Buyer (I was)

This happens to a lot of people, my colleagues who are also living in Bangkok with a teacher’s salary also get projected on them the image that if they are Caucasian, they must have a lot of money. You can argue that my colleagues and myself might have more than the average Thai person but still we are far away from a person working in a executive job.

So let me experiment an idea with the following statement: Every adult human being no matter what their background is, wants to be considered as a person first. This I believe is a good start to develop your curiosity about people.

This links to one of my previous posts, I want the authors to be given the full range to express their honest feelings so that humanity in their work of art connects with the people just because they are people not because they belong or are assigned to a specific group.

So if you are offended by this post or by a bad assumption you have heard around you or about you, take a moment to think again about the way you feel. Maybe you feel proud about good assumptions that confirm your self image.

Bonne journée.


Cartoon blog 45: Representation in creators vs representation in characters

Hey here is something that never happens to me. When I’m watching a show like Breaking Bad, I don’t say to myself : “Wow, this is so good, I wish there was an Indian character to represent me in the show.”

I respect representation as long as it comes from the author, or the auteur depending on whether they have an original vision or not. I’ve heard arguments especially for popular intellectual properties that if there is no representation then the show runner, the writers, the director, the creator, etc, must be racist.

Let’s say there was an Indian antagonist, a brutal bad guy, should I be offended that the representation is wrong?

I firmly believe that we should let the people tell good stories. I’ll enjoy good honest stories because it will reflect the human experience accurately without any required filters. And since I happen to be human, so I can relate.

But forcefully inserting characters just to show you are progressive makes me cringe.

OK let’s say representation becomes a requirement for the creative work, for storytelling, how would the creators know what they define as representation is objectively correct or is proportionate to the actual real human population of the world?

And if the studio starts conducting surveys to dictate what characters the author should and shouldn’t use in a story, it stops being true characters, and start becoming ingredients in a product, NOT a work of ART.

Seth Godin beautifully said that ART is what Humans make, well if the ART is flawed, doesn’t it make it more HUMAN?

I’ve said it before I’ll say it again ART is all about how people feel when they create it and how they feel when they enjoy it. If you want real representation I vote for representation of creators, not artificial extracts included in a Art made into a commodity.

If you are fighting for representation, STOP FIGHTING, START CREATING. Create so much and so creatively that they can’t ignore your voice.

Bonne journée.

Cartoon blog day 43: Interracial relationships

Before you think about it, the title is totally click-baity. The word “race” is still a question to me. I once heard one of my idols, the author Alan Moore say that in the human genome there are no traces of race, it is a human construct, essentially Race is an illusion. (Note to self: Find out for once and for all if race is still a valid word to be used).

To put it in context, before what I tell you what happened, several days earlier I was in a meetup to network people because I was looking for a job, and I met this Indian guy to whom I said something within the lines of: I understand my Boris can be strange for people to hear, because I am probably the only Indian Boris in the world. But it shouldn’t be a surprise to see people from different cultures sitting around a table hanging out. 

For a short time I used to live with my friends because I didn’t have a job so I couldn’t afford to pay for an condo. Back then I used to have habit: take the laptop in my backpack, walk around the mall with air conditioning because it was too hot outside and have the usual conversations with myself, sit down somewhere and let the words pour on the computer with the aim of organizing them later in form of a blog post (or hopefully several blog posts).

As I got on the escalator going up, I noticed something which took me off guard. Something that made me think about my comment mentioned above that people from different culture spending time together, living together should be completely normal.

What I saw was new but beautiful, I saw on my right an interracial couple on the escalator going down, so far so good right? But wait it was an Asian man and an Indian woman. Now why was that surprising to me? Have you been surprised like this before? Have you thought why?

As humans I believe we are programmed to see patterns everywhere, that’s how we went from hunters (figuring out at what time it was good to hunt) to farmers (planning the harvest) to corporate executives who use forecasts to build strategies. But if you have to understand this is the first time I see this configuration and I have lived in India, in France, in UK, in Germany and now in Thailand. 

I just realized that, all ethnicities mix but some ethnicities mix more than others. 

Bonne journée..

Cartoon blog day 34: Indian names


Let me tell you a story which might resemble that of Gulliver’s travels. I was born and raised in India. I did my higher studies in Europe and now I am living in Thailand. I remember how people found my Indian last name difficult to pronounce. They could do it if they tried but they were worried they would say it wrong and offend me in a way.

When I came to Thailand their names were even longer than the Indian names I knew.

I don’t know to what extent but there are many similarities between Indian and Thai cultures. Their language seem to come from Sanskrit which if I have to simplify, is for south Asian languages what Latin is for French, English, Spanish (to name the the ones I know).

Thanks to the book Bridging the gap by Kriengsak Niratpattanasai, I understood the reason behind the long last names in Thailand. According to the book, Thai people submit their first name and last name to the government officials.  “The office then searched the records for identical last names. The name had to be unique and different from those already in use […] As time went by, unique names became harder to come by. More and more syllables were tacked on, resulting in the long names we see today.” (Bridging the gap,  Niratpattanasai)

I also found another thing, I don’t know if everybody in Thailand will agree though. In Europe, Indians are usually seen as the shy ones, in Thailand however they are seen as highly competitive, in certain cases aggressive.

Interesting isn’t it?



Cartoon blog day 18: Indian eating habits

I have to admit I’m an Indian who eats beef. Not only beef, I eat whatever I like.

CBD18 Indian eating habits.jpg

I want to clarify some things about India that I find some people still get wrong. Most Indians don’t eat beef for religious reasons and usually they are HINDUS, which means their religion is HINDUISM, not to be confused with HINDI which is the official language of India and one of the many languages spoken in India.

So HINDU is not HINDI.

And Indie movies is not short for Indian movies, it’s short for Independent movies.

I respect people who warn me that it’s pork or beef when I order something which means that it’s something that people know about Indians.

So why do I eat whatever I want? First I was raised catholic even though I don’t practice. I go to church only because my mother wants to go to church. I do pray sometimes unbeknownst to be.

For a long time I was following this quote I heard somewhere:

I don’t believe in GOD but I am afraid of him.

But actually that wasn’t it. I believe in god but I just don’t believe in the definitions, specifications which we are given from whatever religion it might be.

Just like I believe in LOVE I don’t believe in the Commodification of LOVE.

Bonne journée.