Aman ki Nirasha
Whether one travels ‘cattle class’ or business class from Delhi to Riyadh, one encounters boorish, nouveau riche, first-generation fellow travellers. Indians in Saudi Arabia stand out not only for their linguistic bonds but also their penchant for regionalism, opportunism and the relentless pursuit of money. Of the total population of 28 million, expatriates account for about 6 million and Indians 1.8 million. Of these 1.8 million, Malayalis form the majority, followed by people from the Hyderabad region. There’s also a fair sprinkling of people from Bihar. Regional affinities persist even here and if the choice is between fraternising with a north Indian Muslim and a Malayali Hindu, a Malayali Muslim will opt for the latter. Most interestingly, Indian and Pakistani Muslims don’t mingle even for religious purposes. The Times of India and Jang may have set in motion their ‘Aman ki Asha’ campaign to bring civil society on both sides of the divide closer, but going by the evidence available in Riyadh, there’s not much fraternising with the ‘enemy’, even when the opportunity exists.