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Anand Jon and the Immigrant Dream

US-based Indian designer Anand Jon has been sentenced to 59 years for sex crimes. He kept a conquest diary. He recorded in detail what he had done and to whom. The girls were said to be as young as 14; his abusive streak started in 2001. This picture was taken during the New York Fashion Week in 2004.

So, what are we on to?

His sister, Sanjana, has revealed there was mistrial on 15 counts. She has also said that one of the jurors attempted to take her out and she underwent a polygraph test for this allegation and passed it. The judge admitted juror misconduct but denied a mistrial.

I am also not terribly enthralled by news reports that emphasise how Jon was one of Newsweek magazine’s people to look out for. That is the real problem. Some have indicated racism. These are not issues that one can make quick conclusions about, especially when we see cases of rapists managing to keep pre-pubescent children underground for years.

The fashion and entertainment industries (remember Chaplin’s love for nubile girls?) are notorious for such abusive behaviour. However, there is a time span until which this can go on and all are most certainly not equal before the eyes of the very high society they sponge on and are sucked into.

In 2007 when the designer’s case came into public glare, I had written a column about the immigrant and sudden fame. I shall reproduce part of it here:

Jon might well have been just another fresh off the boat immigrant. He did the unthinkable. He did not wallow in diaspora depression. Instead, he did what a small-town man in India does when he gets to the big city – lets it all hang out until someone notices.

He is not being merely held culpable for a crime – rape and lewd behaviour for which the courts have charged him – but for a sin in the rehashed morality that is overtaking America. Being surrounded by nubile girls and flashing what they now call his feeble credentials is not unusual. Paris Hilton, his client and friend, is certainly no babe-in-the-woods. Why did the accusations suddenly start rushing out in spurts?

Yes, he was given the celebrity treatment in India. The boy from Kerala had made it. It wasn’t Kerala, though, that laid out the red carpet; it was the metro matrons. Today, they pretend they did not know anything about him.

Were all those screeching “Sanjaya” fans merely interested in his singing abilities on American Idol? Just suppose he had won and gone around town with some of these teenagers, wasn’t there a likelihood of someone accusing him? And what about the American gay critic who went completely berserk in his fascination for the contestant, saying that he had a thing for pretty boys with big mouths? Why was the United States silent over this sexual innuendo directed at a youngster?

Sanjaya was their trump card until a trigger-happy South Korean took away their prime-time toy-boy. Papa Malakar could drop those exiled tears any minute – trained classical singer trying to make it in phoren land and getting into roots mode.

People love to watch angst-ridden sagas. Please note that all our diaspora writers and film-makers play the Western stereotype making full use of their origins. Most expats formulate their political opinions sitting in regional hovels. Is it any wonder that most of them have an immensely narrow vision?

Does anyone bother to question them about the immigrants who don’t quite make it? Does anyone ask them to prove their loyalty to the country of their birth even as they give their best to another land?

Anand Jon, besides a few karma-print clothes, did not try hard enough to market his desi-ness. He shamelessly aped the Sunset Boulevard vaudeville.

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An update report: "Sanjana,

An update report: "Sanjana, sister of Anand Jon,now faces contempt of court proceedings for speaking to a juror in violation of a court order and failing to report it."

I wonder what the juror will face...