Cultural diffusion has outwardly taken the better part of the characters in this story. For instance, when Chekov visits Zulu’s wife to know the whereabouts of his friend, Zulu’s wife is not comfortable being addressed as Mrs. Zulu since according to her it sounds ‘blackie'. At this point, Rushdie wants to show how Indians like to distance themselves from anything related to Africa. Anyway, she proceeds to correct Chekov that the proper pronunciation of her husband’s name according to Star Trek is not Zulu but Sulu. This aspect equally serves the purpose of showing how the Western culture has neutralized the East’s. As much as Zulu’s wife is upset by the killing of the Sikh people and understands that the instability in her home country has been caused by a UK-based terror group, her love for the British culture is evident (Gonzale, 70).
The identity issue seems to override all other themes within the story “Chekov and Zulu.” Rushdie does not rest at giving a one-way view of the issue especially for the migrant populations. Using the two main characters Chekov and Zulu, Rushdie offers a vivid account of the different views from which the people of India perceive the British and the Wets in general. Chekov and Zulu are quite at ease with their task as spies of their national government in India in its fight against terrorism. For Checkov, free time is no less than the tome to go out and enjoy what Britain can offer. At times, Checkov would find the time to entertain the wealthy English class who regarded themselves “India Lovers” . On the other hand, Zulu is a family man who does not find it possible to associate with the British class since he considers them a lot that cannot be trusted. This is in reference to a document they had picked during their mission as spies that implicated the UK congress for the death of the influential Indian leader Indira Gandhi. This is the view that would otherwise be held by the majority or part of the Indian population who consider the British as opportunist who safeguard their interest at the expense of the others. Chekov can be described, on the other hand, as a person who is gradually becoming westernized.
However, there is no doubt that despite his westernization, he stills harbors a belief that the western world and the British owe their success to the exploitation of the Indians. In reference to the Indian artifacts he finds in British museums, Checkov jokingly but assertively states that India, which he refers to as a home, “has been plundered by burglars” (Rushdie, 155). The wealthy English and Checkov are the hybrid race that is emerging from this interaction between the colonial masters and their former subjects. The ability to try and accommodate each other while also holding deeper and less attractive meanings to these attachments and is one that still serves to show the deep hatred and mistrust among the “East” and “West”. The decision to set camp in Britain as spies further strengthens the very idea that the East regards the West as a threat to its continued existence. Zulu’s view provides the the most realistic view of the perceptions that the East has against the West. Zulu asserts “terrorists of all sorts are my foes” a statement that banishes Checkov’s association in dinners with the very people they consider as a threat to their motherland (Rushdie, 168).
One of the stylistic devices that Rushdie employs is allusion. The novelist borrows from an American television show –the Star Trek. The two protagonists’ obsession with the show shows how Zulu and Chekov have been influenced by the American culture (Gonzale, 114). Although the two admit that they have never seen the movie, the still carry the little knowledge they heard about the movie into their adulthood. For instance, Zulu in his adulthood has Star Trek collectibles on his mantle, and his wife has become an ardent lover of the show as she watches many of the show’s episodes.
All in all, the story is pretty in agreement with the contemporary context of globalization and shows how the Western culture has become widely accepted in the East.
Gonzalez, Madelena. Fiction After the Fatwa: Salman Rushdie and the Charm of Catastrophe. Vol. 153. Rodopi, 2005.
Rushdie, Salman. East, west. Random House, 2012.