Tuesday, March 22, 2005

Rattle and Hum



I've been doing a lot of soul searching these past few months. I think my insightfulness (is that a word?) has a lot to do with the birth of my daughter. You see, my parents, older sister and I moved to the US when I was about 3. I have no memory of the apparent scene I caused at the airport when I had to leave my ammachi. My parents seemed to be caught in a cultural purgatory, halfway between American ways and Indian ways. Now don't get me wrong. We were raised to respect our parents. My sisters (the youngest of whom was born in the US) and I were extremely respectful. We never assumed we could do any of the things our friends were doing such as parties or sleepovers. We never knew what the answer would be when we asked to go out but knew never to push the issue too hard when they said "no". We kept curfew no matter how early it was. We never drank or smoked. We did however, grew up going to school with only a handful of Indians. We went to the church associated with our grade school that again had minimal Indians in it. It wasn't until I studied in India after high school that I made my first close, Indian friends. I am still extremely close with some of these girls with whom I spent eight of the best months of my life.

Now that I have children of my own, I feel compelled to give them the full 360 degree life experience. I feel lucky that my husband, who is American, fully embraces me and my entire family. Not once in our 6-year marriage has he ever complained about our weekly visits to see my parents or the 5-million family parties that seem to fill our calendar. My kids are already very attached to my cousins, who are close to their age. We are even planning the big family pilgrimage to India for Christmas to visit my parent's new house in Kerala as well as introduce our respective husbands and children. I feel, for lack of a better term, "born again".

Now that I have my identity as an Indian worked out I now need to concentrate on my identity as a wife, mother, daughter, sister, friend, career-woman, democrat, blah, blah, blah. As this rate I'll have it all figured out by the ripe old age of 186.

8 Comments:

Blogger eM says...

I loved this post, it revealed so much of your life and what you've been through etc. More like this one, please! :)

Tue Mar 22, 11:41:00 PM CST  
Blogger Anurag says...

Don't count on figuring out everything by the time you are 186. It didn't help me -- I am still confused. :(

Excellent post, like eM said. I think Indians in US grow up in much more stringent environs than us here...

Wed Mar 23, 01:43:00 AM CST  
Blogger Vignesh says...

When I left for the promised land, with the rest of my kin to pursue the lofty goals of a higher education, I told everyone I would come back. Many asked me what the reason was. The simplest one I used to give was that I wanted my children to grow up in India. It wasn't a real reason even, just something I doled out. The real reason was because I guess, I was afraid of them being different. From me. I wanted them to identify and relate to things that I could identify and relate with.

Reading what you write, and having met the people I did in the US, I guess that can be achieved in many different ways.

Wed Mar 23, 01:46:00 AM CST  
Blogger Primalsoup says...

That was a lovely post! :)

186 aint bad... Most people nedd a zillion lifetimes! :) This could be just about 2... and who knows with forever incresing life expectancy!

Wed Mar 23, 10:22:00 AM CST  
Blogger Mint Chutney says...

Thanks for the great responses!
Having a blog is like cheap therapy.

eM-I'll try to be revealing in a sophiticated way but plan to hear the occasional "Good Lord, you should have seen what the baby's poop looked like after we fed her green beans!" or "Why must my husband throw his socks down right beside the hamper?!"

anurag- I believe that most Indians in the US are stricter with their kids. We were lucky that my mother always knew when to let us spread our wings and when to reign us in.

vig-I definitely believe it is all about striking that fine balance. P.S. Did you catch the title of the post? : )

primal- Cheers! Here's to the next 154 years...

Wed Mar 23, 03:27:00 PM CST  
Blogger Mint Chutney says...

sophisticated

Wed Mar 23, 10:43:00 PM CST  
Blogger Lady in R3d says...

Great post. That soul searching thing is a tough one. I don't know if I'll ever truly figure it out, but I'm going to make the journey well worth it! :)

Lady in R3D ~~8^)

Wed Mar 23, 11:50:00 PM CST  
Anonymous rs says...

hi,

i'm a first time visitor to the site. can totally empathise with the whole 'indian identity' thing, as i recently moved to new york from india.

Thu Mar 24, 07:13:00 PM CST  

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