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.

Just Because I’m American Doesn’t Mean I’m Not Indian

You would think the typical problem for someone first generation born in America would be racism against the fact that you are Indian even though you’re as American as the next person. I do know that this is the case for a lot of people throughout the country. It’s a sad fact and hopefully, we are getting to a point where people are enlightened enough that this isn’t an issue anymore.

My problem is a little different from the typical racism. I want to talk about the stereotypes I dealt with growing up. From other Indian people.

There was an Indian movie that came out in the 90s called Pardes. It basically told a story about a girl from India who was marrying a boy who grew up in the US. This boy was a horrible human being. He drank, he smoked, he had girlfriends prior to marriage. All of this was a direct result from the fact that he had grown up in America.

Seriously??

I’m not going to comment on the fact about whether all of these things are right or wrong. Instead I’m going to focus on the fact that all the “bad” stuff happened because a person wasn’t raised in India. And if you think this is just something that was portrayed in a movie, let me tell you that it actually happens.

When I was 19, I brought a guy around to our family parties. This was someone my parents had met and liked and they were fine with him coming with us. All of a sudden, as of that day, I was a bad influence on the other children within our group. Because I had a boyfriend. And this was the type of guy who the same people would have been trying to set me up with maybe 2-3 years down the line. Same nationality, same religion, good family, etc. I couldn’t understand it. I was a super nerd in school. I didn’t drink, I didn’t really have many boyfriends, I had been teaching dance to their children, I had good grades, and was attending college on a scholarship. Yet, all of that history wasn’t enough. I was now this American girl who was going to take everyone else’s children down the wrong path. I was lucky that my parents stood by me and stood up for me. Now, as I watch all of these people’s children get married to people that are not the same heritage as we are, I wonder if they realize how unfairly they judged me back then.

There was a friend I had whose mom did not like me because she felt threatened or something by the relationship I had with “her little boy”. We were just friends but for whatever reason, I wasn’t a good person. One day, she saw me wearing a sari. She asked me who tied the sari for me (it takes a lot of practice). I told her I did it myself and I’ve known how to do it for the last 7 years. My friend later told me that his own sister-in-law from India can’t tie her own sari. Why did this woman assume that I was so American just because I was born here that I didn’t know anything about my own culture?

Most of the people I have been friends with here can speak more languages than just English. Most of them can understand at least 3 languages. I have friends who have been born and raised here in America and friends who have been born in India and came over after spending their childhood there. My own husband came to this country at the age of 11. Yet, there’s not really a significant difference between us. We are both proud of our culture and we share it. We also adopt parts of the American culture that are more progressive and really have been creating a new culture in which future generations will be a part of.

So, Indian people who think that they are better than I am just because I was born here and not there, get over it. We are all the same. The sooner you start thinking that way, the more we will all get along.