Reformist Muslim

Exploring possibilities for the future of Islam and other thoughts

Location: London, United Kingdom

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

Cappucinos and Coconuts

We've all heard the term coconut before and to be honest I've always thought it to be rather crude. So when I found the word 'cappucino' in the New Statesman special report on India I was quite intrigued. Apparently in India, a cappucino is someone who is 'white and frothy' on the outside but with deeply conservative and traditional sub-continental 'values' on the inside.

One situation which exemplifies this is that of desi men who have long term relationships with white women and then leave them (or sometimes continue to see them on the side), to get an arranged marriage. Of course this phenomenon isn't limited to desi's. The archetypal rich Arab who 'enjoys' himself in the west while placing severe constraints on his wife and daughters at home is a good example. Neither is it a new phenomenon - the father in Naguib Mahfouz's classic Palace Walk is the ultimate fun-lover with his friends and tyrant at home.

Why is this important? Because all too often traditionalists attack liberals when in fact they are attacking cappucino's just like liberals often attack traditionalists when in fact they are attacking 'maulvis'. All of this muddies the discourse and doesn't allow for clear analysis and debate reagarding the many social questions people face when they encounter different cultures, either through immigration or globalisation. I would be very interested in who people think are some famous cappucino's. At the risk of being scorned, may I suggest Imran Khan.


Blogger Jordan said...

I suspect our most passionate critisms against society are really directed against ourselves.

By critising capitolism, abortion, traditionalism, etc.. we free ourselves from our own guilt.

Personally, I love using my $1,500 labtop to attack excessive materialism.

6:30 pm, February 14, 2006  
Blogger reformist_muslim said...

That's an interesting take on the matter as I've always thought the opposite - that when we criticise we want other people to be like us often not recognising that people are different. Would be interested to read what you think.

7:39 pm, February 14, 2006  
Blogger AH said...

I share the same suspicion of 'values' that you seem to...My simple, perhaps simplistic answer to these debates always is: "Are his or her actions hurting you?" If not, stay away...Like everyone flagellated Imran Khan for "being a playboy" and for "marrying a Jewess" and all that tripe. Hey, he made no pretensions about the way he wanted to live his life when he was young, and good for him. And as for marrying who he wanted to marry--again, all power to him, in fact, even more so for going against societal inhibitions to do what he wanted to do.

But this is me, and this is the ideal. Too many people are utterly wrapped up in their preconceptions, and when anyone challenges them, their world seems to fall apart. "Public opinion" needs to be exposed for the arbitrary, irrational farce that it is...but perhaps I overstate the case

8:24 pm, February 14, 2006  
Anonymous Chuck N said...


5:44 am, March 15, 2006  

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