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Identity Politics of South Asian Enclaves


such as phoning or visiting the Boy’s Side and buying and picking

up champagne cases (2006a: 88). Whenever Arun argues with her,

she replies: “But beita, it’s the way things are done, it’s the way

things are done. All da time, all da time, It’s the ways things are

done” (2006a: 88). It is the traditional cultural practices of a

Hindu wedding that she insists upon, and expects other desis to

follow. And yet, traditional as Amit’s mother is in terms of cultural

and religious devotions, Jas also notices that she is a materialist,

and shares materialism with her desi friends. As Jas speculates,

“[s]he could go to bed that nite feelin in her heart an in her soul

that both God an her high-society satsang guests had been

impressed by how she displayed her devotion to the finest furniture

an forks an stuff that her husband’s money could buy” (2006a: 79).

Here, by juxtaposing the devotion of Amit’s mother to the finest

furniture with that to God, and comparing her high society guests

to satsang, namely “spiritual gathering for communal worship”

(2006a: 340), Jas, as the narrator of the novel, leads the reader to

see that, for first-generation Indian immigrants like Amit’s mother,

a sense of belonging to the community comes not only from

cultural and religious practices but also from materialist worship.

Likewise, and to an even greater degree, for the British-born

second- and third-generations of immigrants like Hardjit, Amit,

and Ravi, their shared values and distinctive ways of life in the

enclave are not entirely based on ethnicity or religion. With respect

to cultural traditions, they even come into conflict with the first

generation. Arun, for example, most unfortunately dies of an

aspirin overdose at the end of the novel because he has a mental

breakdown trying to deal with his “complicated family-related

shit,” which in part results from his mother’s insistence on

traditional Hindu wedding customs, and his more “Westernized”

idea of wedding (Malkani, 2006a: 273, 258). In terms of religion,

the fact that Hardjit is a Sikh, and his bosom friends Ravi and Amit

Hindus, does not inhibit them from forming a group, nor does

ethnicity when they take in the white boy Jas as a member of their