What Indian People Think

Sometimes, I read what other people write about being an Indian raised in another country. It’s scary to see what they think. I read a couple of articles written by these Indian people about how we are losing our culture if we are born and raised in America. We defy our parents, we ignore our traditions, we don’t want to participate in anything even remotely Indian.

I’ve written a few articles about this in various forms already. Just because I’m American does not mean I’m not Indian. Yes, there are things that have changed since the good old days where the daughter or daughter-in-law would just blindly do what her elders asked but that’s called progress. It’s called knowledge.

In exchange for me not being the world’s best cook or the Indian woman that cleans all day long, I am independent. I know how to financially support myself. I never needed to get married to someone in order to survive. Instead I chose to marry someone who supports my passions and interests and we have a relationship based on friendship and love. We are here because we want to be not because we have to be.

On that note, I chose my own life partner. I really got to know myself¬†myself and having gone through previous relationships only helped me understand who the right person was for me to take this journey with. In exchange for that, I won’t resent having missed out any part of life. I won’t feel stuck in a relationship because it was my duty to be there. I will love myself and my partner because I have gotten the chance to chase my dreams.

Yes, I don’t agree with or listen to everything my elders say. In this day and age, with all of the information out there, the ideas that we had grown up with might not be the same or even accurate anymore. I also believe in making my own mistakes. But guess what? Neither of us, my elders or I, know everything. We all have to learn. It doesn’t matter if they had done something before us and we are in the process of doing it now. Times have changed! Things have changed!

It’s frustrating that those of us who were raised in a different country still get judged for it. The truth is that our parents left India to make a better life for us. Our parents wanted better opportunities for us. So then why do we get judged when we take advantage of these opportunities? You can’t expect us to move forward in one thing and still be behind in something else. I can’t be an educated woman and then be expected to sit at home, cooking and cleaning all day (unless it’s truly what I love to do). With knowledge comes change. With knowledge comes progress.

I think it’s time that the Indian people who keep thinking we are losing our culture and traditions realize that it’s not that we’re losing them. It’s that our culture and traditions are evolving. Things will change. They always have. Even if you believe that everything has been the same for thousands of years, I can promise you that it hasn’t. Even in India, things have changed over time.

So please stop judging us. Accept change. It’s the only way that you’ll really ensure that the things that are important to you stay around (unless you expect me to wait on you hand and foot because that’s not happening).

Who’s Cooking Tonight?

Last night, my husband made a full-fledged Indian dinner from scratch. Like from scratch from scratch. I don’t even know how to do that (not to say I’ve ever been a master at cooking or that I couldn’t learn how to). It was a pretty impressive sight. I’m definitely one of the lucky ones.

It’s a slightly odd feeling as well. I’ve grown up in a household where my dad can cook really well too so I’m not sure why this is the case. It’s odd just because I’ve grown up in a culture where it’s the woman’s job to cook and clean and take care of the family and house and it’s the man’s job to financially support and help out. These stereotypes are starting to be challenged and it leaves a gray area for us to figure out what we are supposed to be doing.

As a couple, we went 50/50 on almost everything. Initially, this did throw me off. Doesn’t the guy pay for everything? Here I was, this self-proclaimed independent woman and I was stuck in a stereotype of how it should be. In reality, 50/50 is the way an self-proclaimed independent woman should be approaching any situation. Once I reached that realization, it was easier to adjust. I also believe that that helped us respect each other more because we held our own.

Now, living in the same household, all of the duties are still supposed to be split 50/50. I can’t say that is always the case. Sometimes, I think my husband carries more than his weight. And knowing that makes me feel like I’m not doing my job. I’m still trying to figure out how to become the typical Indian wife where I do cook and clean and take care of everything. Due to the fact that responsibilities are being pretty equally distributed (at least in theory), I do manage to get confused about what my role is.

Trying to reconcile who I am to who I want to be to where we are in this world isn’t easy. Trying to reconcile being Indian to being American to being an independent woman isn’t easy. Trying to understand that there might be responsibilities that are stereotypically a woman’s job that the man does better and vice versa is a whole other challenge. You grow up with all of these ideal thoughts about what the world should be but being within your culture will still have an effect on you. I just didn’t realize how much. Breaking down the stereotypes is a challenge that we face head on in this generation all the time.

I’m proud that we are the way we are. ¬†It gives our children a chance to have a more modern belief system intertwined with the parts of our culture that make sense to us. It also allows us to really do what we enjoy since we are not limited by pre-defined roles. I look forward to seeing how everything settles down in our lives and to see what our roles end up being like.