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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What it takes to be an Indian

Who is a true Indian? (photo link)

While living abroad one often wonders about their true identity. Initially you feel alien in the foreign land but after some time you begin to feel alien even in your own country, until you get to this middle fuzzy place where one learns to take things as they come. Being originally from quite a conservative city in India, the stark differences between my past and the western world are not lost upon me. But I have come to accept them in a healthy way. 

I have always wondered though, what children of Indian origin, born and  brought up in the western world go through. How do they create their identity and which way would they/their parents prefer to go - the traditional Indian school way or the much modern western way? 
Bharatanatyam - a traditional Indian dance form (photo link)

A few days back we attended an "Arangetram" (graduation from an Indian dance form) in NJ. I am not really a big fan of the dance form as such, but decided to go for some cultural enrichment (plus the free food!). The young girl gave a dance performance for 3 hours! The event was so well organized and the dance so well performed that  for some time I forgot I live in the US. I have seen several Indian kids here who are so much more culturally proficient of the Indian ways that I wouldn't stand a chance in front of them knowledge wise. Ever! 

It leads me to this interesting question though - who is a true Indian (or put your own country here)?

1. One who lives in India (whether he likes it or not) - manages to survive; the common man who is bringing the country forward, or
2. An Indian origin person living anywhere as long as he wants to and tries to identify himself/herself with the country, sometimes much more than a regular citizen (but possibly shall never step into the land of cows), or
3. The blessed people who live in and love the desi (slang for Indian) ishtyle. 

Does your mouth water when you think of samosa or gulab jamun? Do you get into fainting fits when you look at Shahrukh Khan or Aishwarya Rai? Did your blood boil as the Indian cricketers lost against England in the recent test match? Have you changed your facebook profile picture to support Anna Hazare (the man claimed to be the next Gandhi)? Nah! that doesn't really prove anything. I think the answer is much simpler than that. Just ask yourself where you are from. No matter where your were born and raised and where you live currently you know where your heart wishes to be.

If your answer is:

1. India - True Indian (you love/swear/laugh/cry all at once when you think of India) 
2. Ahem well, I love all countries - Hippindian (Hare Krishna Hare Ram! Peace out!)
3. India is great, but I just love it out here/there - People of Indian origin (best of both worlds or confused desi?)
4. Man, this whole planet sucks, I would rather live in Mars - Beware these types. We suspect them to be actual aliens. (Run!)
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