Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Jackson Heights Teens Defy India / Pakistan Rift

Teens heal India-Pakistan split with friendship

BY TARA KYLE AND TAHARA MIAH from amNewYork; Staff writer Jennifer Barrios contributed to this story. August 14, 2007

... For young New Yorkers in South Asian immigrant communities such as Jackson Heights, the historical tensions that embittered their forefathers are giving way to neighborhood friendships.

"We stay with Bengali ... [Pakistani], Indian," Taniya Mamun, 17, a Bangladeshi American, using a slang term for hanging out. "We stay with all kinds of people," agreed Maya Mamun, 16, Taniya's sister.

In contrast to their parents, India and Pakistan are much less important "in the lives and imaginations of today's South Asian youth," said Natasha Kumar Warikoo, a professor at the University of London who has studied social dynamics at multiethnic schools in Queens...

...Jackson Heights is the epicenter of South Asian culture in New York. Along the blocks near the 74th Street-Roosevelt subway station, South Asians shop for the same clothes and music and eat at the same restaurants. Despite differences in their heritage and native languages, one place where all the teens flock is the Eagle Theater in Jackson Heights, which features Hindi-language Bollywood movies with English subtitles.

"You go to a movie theater and there's people from all cultures in there," Belani said. "If anything, Bollywood's most important for bringing everybody together."...

...Teens in Jackson Heights mentioned that language barriers are another reason parents stick to their own nationality.

But in the high schools and shopping districts of Queens, what brings young South Asians together isn't much different than what works for any other American teen.

"I'm not into politics that much; it's just about fun, basically," Taniya Mamun said...

[where: Eagle Theater, 7307 37th Rd, Jackson Heights NY 11372]
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