Where Do I Belong?

My family and I just got back from a 2 week trip to India. As you can imagine, I noticed so many things that I do want to talk about. Let’s start with this.

I was born and raised in America. My parents moved here before I was born but have done a great job teaching my about my heritage. I have a strong sense of cultural identity and am trying my best to make sure my kid learns as much as she can about her heritage as well.

On my trip, I did notice something interesting. Interesting might be the wrong word but it’s what I will use at the moment. I noticed that I’m not Indian in India. I’m American. The Indian people in India don’t consider me as one of them. (This is clearly a generalization. I’m sure there are people that consider me Indian.)

I can’t tell you how many times I heard people telling someone else that I am from America and I don’t understand or speak anything but English. The funny part was that I perfectly understood what that person was saying in whichever Indian language (Gujarati, Punjabi, Hindi) was being used. Yes, my spoken Indian language might not be perfect but I can understand most everything being said in whichever language you choose.

Why is that assumption being made? I feel as though some of the people who made these assumptions know that I can understand most of these languages so why do they need to feel like they have to mention that I’m from America? Is it an insecurity issue? Am I a worse person because my first language is English?

I met up with a friend who moved from California to Delhi. She was telling me that when she has something to say, no one really listens because she’s the American girl. How does where we are from even relate to the knowledge we have?

It’s also funny because growing up here as a first generation South Asian Indian American meant I stood out. I was Indian, not American. I didn’t assimilate into the typical American ideal at all. Luckily, I grew up in Southern California which meant I wasn’t alone and there were ways for me to fit in with others who were in the same boat I was.

So now, if I’m Indian in America and American in India, I’m not quite sure where that leaves me. The only place I really fit into is this westernized Indian culture that has been created here in America. I get to be as Indian as I want to be without having to be any less American than anyone else.

I hope one day that the people in India who think I’m too American realize that I can understand every word they are saying about me.

Preconceived Notions

I met someone who married someone I knew and she moved to LA to be with her husband. I thought it was possible that I met a new friend. I invited her a few times to hang out and get to know some of my friends (who I’d like to think are pretty cool).

She wasn’t able to make it out any of those times which was fine. But then, I had a conversation with her that really upset me. She basically said that all people in LA are fake and there aren’t like the people where she was from.

First of all, I’d like to believe that not all people in LA are fake. Yes, I think there are a lot of fake people. I think there are a lot of people who try way too hard to impress others. But, I know for a fact that there are genuine, down-to-earth people who really care about others in LA as well.

It disturbed me that she took a bias and held it against the general public that makes up LA. I’m sure that people are different than where she was from. And I know that moving from one place to another, especially when you’re leaving your family and friends behind for the unknown is difficult. I really don’t like generalizations though. Especially negative generalizations. I wish that that girl had taken the time to get to know a few people before she assumed. It’s always possible that she just hadn’t met the people she would click with. LA is a big city. It takes time to figure out who you are in a place like this.

It basically goes back to the saying “Don’t judge a book by its cover”. Don’t judge this city by its stereotype. There are those of us who aren’t fake. There are those of us who really try to be genuine and be honest with people.

Give it a chance. Otherwise, I’d say you will be surrounded by fake people for life.