The Other Forms of Dance

Have you ever noticed that when you talk to certain people about the type of dance you do (or whatever your thing is), that if it’s not what they think is the best type, they sort of tune you out and ignore what you said?

There have been quite a few people who can’t seem to see past what they think is the most important style of dance.

I’ve had people literally ignore my dance resume because it’s not the style of dance they believe in. I’ve heard people in my style of dance claim another form is easier than what they do and that it’s no big deal to learn. I’ve heard of people who don’t even want to watch something else because it’s not “real dance”.

It’s kind of insulting actually. Why is it that we can’t appreciate other forms of art? Why is it that we have to put down anything that is unfamiliar to us? Couldn’t it be possible that maybe it’s just as good and it takes just as much talent to do one form of dance as it does to do another?

And why is it that people feel the need to put something else down? Why can’t something we don’t know just be that? Is it insecurity? Is it the fear that if something else is as good or even better that we aren’t good anymore?

If we have enough talent and you are able to share that with others, then whatever you know is good enough. I’m hoping more people can stop being competitive and just support others in our field.

Sometimes, it says more about you that you are able to accept something is good rather than try to prove that it isn’t good at all.

Assumptions, Assumptions….

Another thing I encountered when I was in India was the idea that various people hold there about those who are living or raised in America aren’t as good as those in India. Before I go more into this, I just want to reiterate that these aren’t the thoughts of every single person. It is just a thought of several people I came across on this particular trip. I am fully aware that not everyone thinks like this.

My family visited this couple while we were there. In this visit, the husband proceeded to mention how things in America aren’t as good and this was better in India and that was better in India. The wife went ahead and mentioned that we were all forced to work in America and no one could just work because they enjoyed their job. Now while their statements may have some truth to them (but certainly not entirely true), I wondered why the comparisons had to even come up.

We compare things when we need to feel like we’re doing the better thing. It’s to assure us that we aren’t missing out on anything or the worse of the two things we are comparing.

It really felt like this couple was making comparisons about their lives in India with ours in America because there was some envy about the fact that we did come from America. The only way to feel better about the fact that they weren’t in America was to put it down. Nothing was as good for us as it was for them. It made me also wonder what they thought of me. Here they were making these comparisons while I, a product of America, was sitting right there. And as I had mentioned in a previous post, just because I don’t speak Hindi or Punjabi fluently doesn’t mean I don’t understand about 80% or more of what’s being said. And I really wasn’t thrilled hearing a few people who decided to put my hometown down because they either didn’t want to or couldn’t live there.

I am aware that things are different between living in America and living in India. I was born and raised here so to live in India just doesn’t seem like something I personally could ever do. But I have met people who have been able to move there and really love it as well as those having been born there and never wanting to move away. India is also still growing as an independent nation (with only 60 years or so of being an independent country under its belt) so comparing everything to America (with over 200 years of independence) is also not the wisest thing to do. It’ll take time for both countries to be comparable. I am hoping that, one day, they will be.

I believe I had mentioned before the Bollywood movie Pardes. They keep mentioning in it how all of the bad habits the bad guy in the movie had picked up was because he was living in America. It generalized and stereotyped those of us who were raised here and really showed us in an inaccurate and horrible light. Pardes is 17 years old. So you can imagine my surprise that there are still people who share the same ideas now.

I’m hoping there will be a time where we are not judged by where we were raised. I’m hoping we can get to a point where we try to understand that a person’s background is just a part of them but we don’t define them by that background only. I’m hoping that eventually people will stop judging me based on the fact that my parents left India for better opportunities for themselves and their children.

Yes, I am American. Stop forgetting that I am also Indian. I will never stop being Indian. Understand that.

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.

That Auntie!

I go to a dance class every Saturday. It is run by an Indian woman that’s probably around my mom’s age. Almost all of her students are about the same age. I actually have a great time in this class because anytime I’m around dance, I’m at ease.

A new lady showed up at the last class I went to. Our teacher told her I was Gujarati because apparently, that lady (who was South Indian, Tamil to be more specific) knew how to speak Gujarati. Then, my teacher asked if I understood Gujarati. Before I could even answer, the other lady said “No. Most of that generation can’t.” I immediately jumped on that because, in reality, most of the people I know can speak their parents’ native language. At the very least, they understand it.

I think what bothered me was that the lady assumed I didn’t know anything. She started testing me. Now Gujarati is my second language. If you start putting me under pressure to speak, of course, I’m not going to be as good as I would be in English. She asked me a second question later and I was able to recover and prove that I knew my own language.

Seriously though? Why was I being challenged like it was wrong if I didn’t know Gujarati? I really wonder if her children understood her native language. Why would she assume that I didn’t? She had met me for the first time. For all she knew, I had just came to America recently with English as my second language.

I don’t get it. Being judged just based on my appearance or whatever she was judging me on was not appreciated.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Just because I’m American doesn’t mean I’m not Indian. I wish Indian people would stop treating me that way.

Expectations vs. Reality

We grow up watching fairy tales and Hindi movies. Is there anything more that could make us think that once we fall in love, everything will be magical? It’ll be flowers and surprises and pure romance.

And while this is a great thing to hope for, it’s probably not what reality is.

Let’s put it this way. Is it possible for anyone to keep up the romance every single day over the course of a relationship? I couldn’t do it. I’m pretty sure most people can’t.

The best thing you can do for yourself when you start a relationship is be realistic. And when I say realistic, I don’t mean pessimistic. I mean realistic.

Expectations are one of the things that gets us into a lot of trouble when we start dating someone. I expect everything from the person that I am with. How fair is that?

I’ve learned the hard way that it’s not my significant other’s job to make me happy. It’s my job to make myself happy. Our relationship is meant to provide each other with love and mutual support. And I’m grateful for everything he does for me because I know he doesn’t have to.

The second we stop expecting everything from our significant others, the more we’ll appreciate the things they do for us because we know then it’s out of their love and not because they have to.