Sunday, April 4, 2010

A Home away from Home?

Written on a late, breezy Spring-evening, on a wooden desk by the little fountains. This is not a blog-post. This is not an article. These are my thoughts.
I want to put myself in the shoes of these undergraduate brown girls, putting on a show here. Decked up in bright, colourful, traditional Indian dresses, loaded with sequins, glitters and rustic mirror-work; the South Indian representatives additionally wearing flowers in their hair tied in a bun; and all of them talking excitedly about random things from Wendy’s to the talent show they just participated in, in an easy-flowing, naturally-occurring thin American accent. How’s life like for them right now? 
An entire club of individuals representing India, while they are miles away from the country actually; while some of them (most of them I guess) may not have visited India at all or even if they had, they remember hardly anything or mostly nothing about the visit; most of them not really gaga about how their Indian-culture-inspired mom and dad keep instructing them and supervising their lives here in America; a lot of them, who I am guessing, are not sure of whether they should be proud of being identified as Indians at all; lot of them feeling divided between two countries absolutely contrasting in socio-economic arenas…and so on. How must it feel like being them?
To me and you and I don’t know who else, they are representing India, its various states and cultures. I would like to know what these pretty star-studded girls are really doing it for? Is it really that belongingness or is it just another dance competition and a way of enjoyment (which I’m not projecting as negative anyway)? This is because I try to imagine how it’d be like if I were born in America and if my parents always said to me, “You are also Indian, don’t forget that” or “Talk in Gujarati, girl, can’t you converse in Gujarati?”  (I hear my uncle say that to his kids all the time) and so forth;.. and if I had to relate myself to a country, in spite of never really having belonged there, but still having been associated with it, thanks to the brown skin and South-Asian facial features;…if singing the national anthem always brought the Star-Spangled Banner to lips and not the Jana Gana Mana…
…or wait; I could be totally incorrect. Maybe they feel fortunate to be belonging to two different countries simultaneously, each rich in it’s own unique way; maybe this sense of association derived through truly representing the culture in as much as they can (which refers to so much that they do beyond the talent shows), brings sweet joy and extreme contentment to them; maybe they long for living this life of walking in Kolhapuri chappals and donning flowing salwar-kurtis to feel Indian; maybe they want to run to the country that ‘made’ them, that gave them their parents, that has been nourishing them quietly ever since; the country that has been working effing hard damn right so that Her citizens can vacation in Scotland and study in America; maybe they want to just see and feel and hence experience their motherland (??) which, in spite of catering to over a billion lives, has held Her arms wide open, for all those who want to run into her anytime, no matter where they are born!!


Barry said...

Indian women are exceptionally beautiful. Isn't it funny that with all I could write, this is the first thing that comes to my mind.

Indian culture fascinates me, whether it's East or West (my extended family is Guyanese and I adore them). I love the clothes; the colours are brilliantly radiant. The food is terrific. The dance is entertaining. The religion (whether Hindu, Buddhist, Sikh or Jainism) is fascinating. My brother's father-in-law does work in the Hindu community and we had a long talk about Hinduism a while ago.

I think it's so important to embrace your culture, no matter what your background is. I understand parents' concerns about losing that part of your identity when you're living in a country that's so different. But we have much to learn from each other and would all be richer for the experience if we'd take time to understand our respective cultures.

It's so, so good to see you here again Tamanna!

Taj Acosta said...

I love that you wrote your thoughts without inhabition. I wish that more people would do so in a way that ignites thought and respect. Sharing cultures and ideas and thoughts enriches us tremendously towards understanding and compassion. Well done. xoxo

quixotic.knight said...

I saw Madagascar,that animated disney shows Marty the Zebra longing to go to that green stretch even though he's born in a city zoo...........

The roots are something one always yearns for, but i agree with what u say.These gals have been lucky to have the best of both civilizations served on a platter to 'em.

We might have have values to offer,but we lack that respect for an individual and a pleothra of opportunities which west has to offer.We are a society who still has miles to cover.We cover Sania Mirza fuk up more than the death of our 76 soldiers

this generation,the one which is growing up there,is going to be exceptional.

Barry said...

Hi Tamanna, I'm back after reading Kunal's most recent post about Mahabharat. I'd never heard of it before but I find the subject fascinating.

I hope you'll have a chance to share your thoughts at some point, I'm curious to hear what you have to say.

Cinderella said...

Tammy, I am so glad you gave me this link! I read all your posts on this page you are a wonderful writer!

keep at it! And I'm following this blog!

RoseBarbie said...

nobody ever tells me to talk in gujarati :( you made me miss home.. :(

Anonymous said...

You are definitely thought provoking! Something ordinary bloggers lack these days.

Dusk said...

A very eloquent post and oh hon... you have such literary grace... your thoughts... flow... flower... flourish...

I will need to come back to this one. I'm in a very different position to the opposing reactions you describe. I am thoroughly Indian. Hold my head up high Indian.
Would not want to be anything else other than maybe a Togruta Jedi Master from Shili who goes by the name Shaak Ti... so still Indian! (and a major nerd!!)

...BUT... I am not from India. And although my parents were traditional, they let me absorb the cultures of the countries I grew up in. WITHOUT sacrificing my 'Indian-ness'. I have a British accent but I speak Hindi fluently. They may have cringed but they didn't stop me tanning my [prized by others fair] skin to a dark gold! I danced Kathak for 10 years but had boyfriends who played in rock bands and were breakdancers!

I feel I have the best of all worlds. My parents are hugely responsible for this. As I said, they were/are quite traditional but my parents understood that the world is a melting pot.

Funnily...I find it quite offensive if I meet an Indian who cannot speak Hindi or their dialect/language BUT... don't blink an eye if an Italian or Greek or African or Fijian or Welshman or Lebanese can't speak theirs! And I have friends like this!

What I have never understood is this reticence to deny ones origin. I have seen it here. Do other races do this as much or at all? I don't see Europeans doing this. In fact they revel in their European-ness.

Wow. I've rambled and this probably doesn't make any sense!


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