Early May 2015 (a month before Dad died), the family has just moved back to Mumbai and I was searching for a house in the Andheri neighborhood of Mumbai, primarily because of its proximity to the hospital Dad was being treated in. One of the questions while talking with the brokers was always about religion, but I disregarded it to be a question about demographics. Until this once when I really liked a place and the broker said he will check with the owner. The response:
Sorry, cannot rent the house to a Muslim.
From that point on, whenever I’d speak to landlords, the identification as a muslim (or non-vegetarian, which is supposedly the politically correct term) became a part of the first conversation. (There was this one time when one house owner actually took offence to my statement Will you rent your house out to a muslim family?, that was 1 out of 20+ conversations I had)
There are laws in india against this kind of discrimination, and its implementation usually met by apathy . But in my case it was a deteriorating father. So we moved on and finally found a good place that everybody like, owned by a Muslim.
I was offended.
Fast forward to September 2015 — Dad’s dead, Mom and Sana are back in Doha with me (the house was not rented after all), and I’m getting married in December. For the dinner with my side of the family* (mostly a practicing muslim family), Jyoti and I decided on a poolside place at The Westin and made sure that Halal food will be available. On talking to the family, another requirement was put forward
The food has to be cooked by a Muslim.
Now, I could go into the laws of Islam about food being Halal, interpretations by important leaders, and just common (f*king) sense; but an argument is not really worth it. Especially when 1. it is cousins in my age group who push for this and 2. the two possible outcomes of continuing with the Westin are 2a. Mom being harassed because none of the family will speak to me directly and/or 2b. People simply won't show and I will end up wasting money that could have been put to better use.
So we decide to hire a banquet hall, and a Muslim caterer for the event and everyone is happy. Well, not everyone, but is there any event in the world that makes anyone happy? So we move on.
I am ashamed.
When do we move forward in time? And life?
*Jyoti and I will have only a dinner with each side of the family independently — reasons (separate, but related) not important here, I’m positive I will write about it later