Identity

“Are you Indian?”

“No”

A smile crosses my face. Looks like the star-spangled brainwash has begun.

“Are you American?”

“No”

“Well then, what are you?!”

“A boy”

I laugh heartily. This clarity of thought is just too much for me.

I fear for him too.

An innate human need is to belong. To something. A place, an ideal, a lineage. To have a history and heritage. It’s the anchor that moors us in stormy waters and offers respite from its roiling uncertainty. Appreciating and participating in cultural milestones is a part of retaining your bonds with that heritage, which is one of the reasons I’ve always considered myself to be willfully lacking any. I’m not very religious, I celebrate festivals sparingly and even when I do it’s not because it has a cultural significance, but because it reminds me of happy memories. That’s pretty much it. And yet, I find myself clinging to my values, decidedly Indian but tweaked over time to retain more global relevance, in moments of duress or decision. I can’t wish away the bonds to my country of birth and I won’t want to. There are small, perhaps silly signs I may never completely blend into a different culture. For example, I take pride in not having acquired an accent even after nearly four years in the US. I take pride because I have relatives who traveled the States on 15 day package
tours and returned with plastic statuettes of Liberty, garish handbags from the tour operator and a drawl. Or my instant revulsion to a relative who having decided that obtaining a green card after years of toil was his life’s singular achievement, visited us in India and proceeded to patronisingly lecture us on the opportunities in “emerging countries like India”. Dude, you used to shit out the same corner paani-puri and kathi roll as me, so get a grip.

I love what America is. I don’t know what it was and if I didn’t have a young child, I probably wouldn’t care. As my good friend Sumeet told me, the difference between Europe and America is that Europe cares about where you come from, America cares about where you want to go. Beautifully put. India is like Europe in that respect. Current reality is that I’m digging my heels into America for a while, because I’ve put my wife through enough shit, making her move with a child thousands of miles away from roots, family and a great career. America, like its USP, represents opportunity to me. Everyone who works hard gets a fair chance notwithstanding the occasionally xenophobic rhetoric of the far-right. That is all just political saber-rattling. This is a very comfortable mire to sink into because it’s very conveniently on the lower end of Maslow’s hierarchy. It does not require adherence to draconian edicts or a knowledge of complex cultural mores. I mean, yes, you need to learn to tip 15% here irrespective of the service but it’s nothing to commit seppuku over. I can probably sail through the next 10 years not voting, or learning the pledge of allegiance or about Custer’s Last Stand. Not just because I’m shallow, constrained for time and need a lot of selling to. It’s not central to my pursuit of opportunity. I do make it a point to inculcate American civic sense, responsibility and I hope eventually, a sense of community. Then one day I’ll book one-way tickets to India. I don’t know. It’s a possibility.

But what about my son? He’s not American. Unless I invest a lot of time explaining the very rich cultural intricacies of his country of birth, he’ll be in no-man’s land for the rest of his life. The missus pointed out that he doesn’t even look American. If he stays in America, his ABCD counterparts will probably be black belts in Bharatnatyam, Carnatic/Hindustani music and would know the operational details of organizing satsangs. I can’t teach him these things because I don’t know them. If we all go back to India, it’s going to be spectacularly unfair on him. India’s cultural heritage isn’t something to be scoffed at and it isn’t something you can just pick up as you “go along”. There is no “hit the ground running”. It’s a slow burn, melding into the fabric of the country one day at a time.

For decisions like these, I turn to the one place NO MAN SHOULD EVER GO – his gut. My gut says I should just let him be American. I want him to love, live and breathe America, football, tailgating, baseball. This country, like any other, has its flaws, its jingoism and values that may ring hollow. But I want him to completely belong to them, even if he does not “look” American or wasn’t born here. Who knows? In a couple of decades, “looking” American may be a subject of academic interest, what with the steady rise of minorities and racial intermingling. I’d much rather he have one place to call his own instead of a schizophrenic existence across two disparate worlds. I’ve seen Indians in that confused state in the US. They know so much of India without actually having grown up there, they hang onto what I believe is an inherently false sense of identity. I can’t bring myself to believe the lies they tell themselves about inculcating a more diverse, richer point of view. I don’t want to be one of those parents who forces his child to live a set of alien values without understanding the basis for those values.

If he does grow up in America, I need to steel myself for the moments when the influence of his adopted country and his peer group will clash with what I’ve been taught to dislike or disapprove. It won’t just be a generation gap I’ll battle, it will also be a cultural gap.

But I’d rather be the parent who accords his child the right to take a stand and then engage in debate, rather than obfuscate his sense of identity with a hybrid, meaningless amalgam of cultures and then be responsible for his disillusionment.

Surely, I don’t have all the answers. We’ll see how it goes.

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42 responses to “Identity”

  1. purplesque says :

    I don’t have children, but have struggled with this question- hypothetically-in the past. I do know a lot of absolutely wonderful American-Indian young people, and all of them have one thing in common- parents with enough common sense not to push them into identifying with some weird, pre-conceived notions of what is Indian. Most of these young people identify themselves as American-Indian, they tend to follow their American peers during the formative years and then get interested in, and explore, and sometimes start identifying with, their parents’ heritage.

    The only thing you must not do is to give in the pressure from ‘your’ peers- whether it is to speak only Hindi/Marathi/Tamil/whatever in the house, go to the temple every weekend (seriously? Did you do that as a child?), or to ‘get to know’ a nice person of the opposite sex from the homeland.

    All of that sounded ridiculous to you, didn’t it? You’re going to be fine. :)

  2. Surio says :

    Came by accident.
    Just one observation to make.

    Why so serious? You can simply return back to India. Many have done so too. You have to decide if “career” and “opportunity” is worth so much in the end.

    And if the boy is only four he will simply pick up India where he left it.

    Best.

  3. jealousscissor says :

    I think everyone has their own way of living the Indian life. The Indian culture, for that matter culture of any country, can only be spoken of on a macro-scale. People from every corner of India or NRIs differ so much in culture and way of living, but what unites us is our sense of belonging to each other.

    If I were in your place, I’d not mind the way of living and values of my son, but his lack of sense of belongingness to India might hurt me. I think your son should spend some amount of time every year or two in India at his relatives’ place. He should have a good experience of what India is like before his teenage.

    When I was a kid, I used to eagerly anticipate the summer vacations which I used to spend at my nani’s place with all my cousins. If my son would be eager to go India every summer, then he’d truly be a global citizen.

  4. disgruntledPondicherrian says :

    It’s me from the other post.

    Here’s my two penny’s worth:

    I’m a TamBram who was born and raised abroad. My folks then sent me to live with my extended joint family so I wouldn’t lose my cultural identity.

    I now have the best of both worlds. Bach, Bryan Adams and Balamuralikrishna!

    My husband (who also lived abroad for almost a decade before we got married) and I chose to settle in India and I chose not to work for the reason that we want to bring our kids up with strong Indian cultural roots. When our son grows up, we know he’s going to be heavily influenced by the “west” from his surroundings (school, tv, etc), so we decided at least let us inculcate the Indian-ness early on. When he is older, at least he can choose to follow what he wants to.

    I’m sure there are shloka / bhajan / carnatic music classes at various indian settlements all around the world, but what I wanted for him is the corner chai shop, gully cricket, catching the public bus to school/college, stuff like that. We also make it a point to attend every kind of function, religious or otherwise.

    I try my best to keep up our traditions – having to call up my mom, mom-in-law or random aunts and make notes in my “tradition diary”. Random rituals (some that make a lot of sense, others – not so much!), amazing recipes (everyday gems, special dishes for special occasions), rangolis, shlokas, etc. I believe that it would be nice for each of us to preserve what has been handed down to us – whatever our cultural background may be- instead of letting it die away.

    I am not at all opposed to westernization. I believe we should keep up with the times, yes, but I also feel very strongly about Indian cultures dying out.

  5. Aarjav Trivedi says :

    “But I’d rather be the parent who accords his child the right to take a stand and then engage in debate, rather than obfuscate his sense of identity with a hybrid, meaningless amalgam of cultures and then be responsible for his disillusionment.”

    I love this ideal. I am afraid though that everything from ethnic labels (“Indian american”) to visiting grandparents will cause some amalgam whether or not you can resist “what I’ve been taught to dislike or disapprove”. We (Fobs, first generation immigrants etc) tend to label amalgamation as confusing and it probably is confusing. Moving from Amdavad to Bombay, or one housing society to another is also confusing for kids.

    I wouldn’t call it meaningless though. Meaning lies in the mind of the beholder.

    • daddysan says :

      Thanks Aarjav. Perhaps you’re right. My instinct was to shield him from influences *I* perceive as confusing. It may not be so for my son. I’m just letting go.

  6. Ordinary. (@in_ebriated) says :

    Having lived away from home (in the sense of living in boardings, though in India) almost all my life, I would also say that it opens up a lot of avenues, and makes life richer in many aspects. And in many ways, I got to realize the value of my particular culture only when I grew up and found myself in climes almost entirely alien to the the one I am supposed to belong to.

    I use the words ‘supposed to belong to’ because that is a question which vexes me often, as with the parallel question of ‘where is home’? Perspectives vary on that- whenever my parents call me in evenings, a regular question is whether I have reached my ‘dera’ (rented apartment) which I invariable answer informing them whether I have/haven’t reached my ‘home’. And over a distance of two thousand kilometers, this question looms up between us- can I call a place where I have spent barely one month every year for the past twenty years ‘home’? If I cannot, what happens to my roots? Where do I belong? And if I buy a house here, all of a sudden the place I live in is no longer rented, and I own it, does that all of a sudden transform into a having a home where I had none? I would say yes, because owning a home is the first step in the process of setting down roots-where in the world may that be. And then comes the onus of starting with all the other things you speak of so eloquently:”civic sense, responsibility and I hope eventually, a sense of community”. Specially a sense of community. And may be, a cross-pollination of cultures.

    I guess I am playing the role of the son here, not yet having one of my own, but would that be so bad, were he to choose tomorrow to be an American? Or a Brit or Australian or Swede or Indian? Like you, I also do not have an answer to this question, even though I do sometimes wonder about the places I live in, and where I would like to eventually raise my family, but I think what Nathaniel Hawthorne wrote long ago makes a lot of sense in this context:

    “Human nature will not flourish, any more than a potato, if it be planted and replanted, for too long a series of generations, in the same worn-out soil. My children have had other birthplaces, and, so far as their fortunes may be within my control, shall strike their roots into unaccustomed earth.”

    • daddysan says :

      Lovely, lovely comment. Thank you so much.

      “Wherever he lay, that was home”. I think today, more than ever, this lyric doesn’t imply a rolling stone anymore.

  7. rohan says :

    why do we have the fever of culture being extinct? It means it is already a dead thing, it is not growing and our participation to building a new culture is null.Every time we return to India things are changing.Kids may find their ways if we love our roots to our country.Else what other purpose ld be other than harmony and growth to any culture and religion. And they said not every wanderer is lost.

    • daddysan says :

      The evolution of culture isn’t a bad thing at all. Perhaps that’s what some of the folks mean when they advise me to “let it be”. What’s the point of spending all that time and effort ingraining in your child the tenets and core of being Indian when India itself is progressing in a different direction?

  8. mystiquepai says :

    I grew up in Oman, but I don’t think of myself as a third culture kid at all, because in the 17 years I lived there, I went to an Indian school, CBSE board, and all our friends were Indian. Quite shamefully, I can’t speak a word of Arabic.

    The difference I see is that kids who grow up here seem to relate much more to their extended family than I do.

  9. Purnima Rao says :

    Been thinking of this issue of cultural identity for a long time (as a south indian brought up in the north and completely disconnected from her culture, language, traditions, family roots etc.)…
    ….crap, I’m sure I had more to contribute in this comment but…hmmm….I really want to do a post on this too.
    Cheh. Sorry for rubbish blithering. Loved your post.

    • daddysan says :

      Thank you Purnima! Naveen made a similar point above. Your comments forced me to evaluate my own nomadic lifestyle in India and I agree, it’s a similar tussle of values even inside India.

  10. terminalrant says :

    I completely relate. My family and I are settled in the UK but currently in the Caribbean, where my son attends a play school. Though not exactly drilled into him, he has picked up the Saint Lucian National Anthem and can hum along. This makes me wonder how it will all pan out. Him being an Indian, living in England and thinking he is a Saint Lucian. Unbelievably confusing!

    • daddysan says :

      Interesting indeed! Fascinating how kids just denote their current state as normal and adapt quickly. They really are more emotionally pure than adults, I feel.

  11. Naveen Bachwani says :

    Another well-written post. Thanks for sharing.

    As I read through it, a couple of things stuck me:

    1. Cultural gaps can be far wider than generational ones, so don’t underestimate the “battle”.

    2. It’s great that, as a parent, you’re aware of the complexities and are willing to take the path less trodden, even if you don’t have all the answers yet.

    3. On a more generic level, the issue you have written about is similar to many more that parents face – even those that haven’t migrated to a foreign land. And, that is : “Should you allow your children to live Life on their own terms or not.”

    I wish you all the best in your endeavour to find the answers… May the force be with you.

    • daddysan says :

      Thank you so much Naveen! Yes, the cultural gaps worry me, but I have my scotch, my headphones and a porch to retreat to when things get heated :)

      The letting children be issue is a tough one, yes. Surely you’ve dealt with it in more detail so would love to hear more from you!

  12. freezedriedFD says :

    The interwebs ate my last comment.

    But, yeah, Daddy San, this post voices some of my own concerns about raising a culturally hybrid /uncertain little one in America.

    I think letting the kid be is a wonderful intention. (I keep wondering how successfully I will be able to do this, but that’s a story for another day, eh?)

    And for what it’s worth, as some of my raised-in-America desi friends tell me, that kind of letting go is what worked for them.

    • daddysan says :

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts freezedried! Yes, the letting them be sentiment has been echoed multiple times in the comments on this post as well as on my facebook so it’s really something I should consider.

  13. miffalicious says :

    This is a topic with that I grapple with constantly. I’m neither married, nor involved in a career, which leaves me with less reasons for wanting to be grounded, but the question always exists of my identity and where I truly should belong. Thank you for this post. x

  14. Anirban says :

    I understand your fears, but would like to reassure you that all will be well. How do I know? I know from my own experience.

    My parents came to the US for the first time when I was four. I went through elementary school here being not really Indian and not really American. I went back to India with my parents and realized that I was looking at it the wrong way. I can identify with in diverse crowds and talk football and cricket with the best of them. I speak multiple languages and have multiple accents. I move through them effortlessly.

    Here is an analogy. Some people can listen to heavy-metal all day and all their lives. I’d find that boring. Some days, you want Bollywood, and dance music, and Western classical, and Hindustani ragas. Why limit yourself? :)

    Multiculturalism can cause an identify crisis when someone wants to fit in particularly in the teen years. But I’ve seen multiculturalism and I think it is the most awesome thing that can happen to anyone.

    I also think that @Supremus is right. There are people in India, who’ve grown up in cities who look upon others as inferior people if they speak in their native languages.

    • daddysan says :

      Very interesting history! Thanks for sharing!

      The possibility that kids can indeed pick and choose the pertinent values and then build a comfortable system to adhere to is a reassuring thought. I do believe your staying in India may have had something to do with it, but I could be wrong.

      The perspective I’m coming from is a fauji one. Moving around in different parts of India is in itself an eye-opening experience and I did a lot of that as a defense kid. I attempted pretty much what you’ve recounted – to select what’s most comfortable for me. Perhaps because I didn’t have a choice. I’d make friends, a small social circle and then desert them every 2-3 years.

      Even professionally, there’s a lot more moving around in India. When I was in Raipur, my wife observed the fellow who picks up the trash making his rounds, knocking on doors with one end of a stick. One day she asked our neighbor why. The neighbor replied – oh he’s untouchable so we don’t let him touch our doorbell.

      There’s no telling what we learn and then wish to unlearn in our travels :)

  15. Supremus says :

    In the last ten years have had friends from all sides of spectrum, and only thing I can tell is I don’t know the difference right now between myself and my desi buddies brought up in the US. They are as much Indian as we are and we are as much Americans as they are. I guess what I’m trying to say is how our kids will turn out will depend on a large extent on on the social fabric we build around ourselves. That whole cultural angle of India is a myth now. Kids there as as much westernized in schools as much as there’s a renewed interest in Indian culture from kids here. Nobody’s wrong – thanks to information at our fingertips, we are moving towards a globally similar world.

    • daddysan says :

      Great perspective Supremus. I had heard of the westernization of Indian kids in India, especially the metros but didn’t extrapolate it to also having a fluid sense of identity.

      I agree with you about the influence of the social circle kids build around themselves. That is something I can control to a certain extent and I will :)

  16. ¬ (@_riotous) says :

    Think I already DM’d you this link http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Third_culture_kid

    Ooooh. Topic close to my heart. I grew up in a different country than my birth country and went to an international school which was full of expat kids. I guess I was lucky in that I didn’t move around too much, but some of those kids literally moved around once every 2 years.

    It’s good though! Growing up in a culture not of your own forces you to confront your identity a lot earlier than you would have to if you were growing up in a place where everyone is like you! I mean, if I lived and grew up in India, I would probably have a rock-hard sense of identity. But I also wouldn’t have the experiences that I had, wouldn’t have met people from different cultures, learnt many different languages at a young age, etc.

    Sure you will always have those “bharatnatyam black belt” types but more often than not you’ll see a hybrid who won’t really feel comfortable with either culture. This does come with its own upsides though, most 3CKs speak more than 2 languages well, and are perceptive and able to get along with a wide array of people, and rarely suffer from culture shock when they go to different countries, are open-minded, not discriminatory, etc etc. I guess all that makes a little bit of identity crisis worth it at a younger age. And sure maybe we will never truly feel comfortable in a country which is overwhelmingly of one culture, but that just means that kids who grow up this way are drawn to more cosmopolitan countries and grow up with a more global outlook. That’s like an inbuilt advantage :)

    And the identity thing, everyone has a unique identity, it just takes us some time to figure out the nature of that identity. I for one think it’s better for kids to be as open-minded as possible and see *ALL* their options (which this added exposure gives them) as early as possible. I think that the initial confusion will give way to some pretty awesome life experiences.

    • daddysan says :

      Very informative as usual L! I hadn’t heard the 3CK term before. I like the general consensus that kids will figure out their identity on their own, even as an amalgam of different cultures.

      I just wanted to understand what I *shouldn’t* be doing!

      Glad to have you stop by!

  17. Madhulika Mathur (@madhulikamathur) says :

    Such a fabulous read. You speak for all of us who are raising third-culture kids. For my kids, this is the second country of residence and they have spent more time outside than in their country of passport. Infact for us, there could be a couple of more countries in near future. Reality of global careers, you have to be internationally mobile. But I have learnt not to see it as a barrier. As long as we understand that our kids are not going to grow up with the same strongly indian identity that we possess. They are global nomads. Citizens of the world. The experiences they will have growing up, its hard to define how they will shape them but I hope it will allow them to understand the world better. And as Tennyson said, “I am part of all that I have met.”

    • daddysan says :

      Superb! Love the Tennyson quote! And that is what I’ll tell my son too. I struggle at times with the balance of values so this global melting pot doesn’t confuse him. But as many have written here and elsewhere, perhaps I should just take it easy and let him figure it out :)

  18. RD says :

    I have been a silent reader of your blog for sometime now, but this post made me break my silence. I have thought about this before. Have lived in the UK for over 5 years now. I am quite proud to have retained my Indian accent, my cultures, values etc. But I worry for my progeny i.e if I ever had one..lol. If I stayed back here, there’s a good chance they’d end up being one of those BBCDs, who I personally despise, for their inability to even recognise simple things about India, let alone appreciating them. Every time I see a second or third generation UK born and brought up confused Indian (or Brit?) in a mildly authentic modern Indian restaurant, ordering Pav Bhaji whilst calling it a ‘mashed potatoes and aubergine thingie’, I snigger a bit. I feel sorry for them. It’s a choice parents should make sooner than later. Being devil’s advocate here, but would you rather your child call it potato and aubergine mash or ‘pav bhaji’? Like your honesty in the post. There are very few who’d openly admit making a conscious choice for their children.

    Also, I disagree on ‘Europe not caring where you’re going’ bit. I am yet to experience that. I could be wrong but I can only speak for myself.

    • daddysan says :

      Thanks for the comment RD. On the aubergine question, I don’t know :) Perhaps I’d prefer pav bhaji because it’s familiar to me and evokes the right imagery of what it *should be*. Aubergine mash is what he’d use because it’s familiar to his social circle, not mine. Tough one :)

      I must confess I too feel the same mixture of pity and contempt. Such experiences were the inspiration for this post. I don’t judge those kids for speaking that way, not knowing enough about India or not knowing it correctly. I myself am quite deplorable in that respect. It’s just the instinctive cringing when you hear something that’s a bastardized version of something you grew up with.

      Like me trying to say skedool instead of shedool. I tried it a couple of times, felt totally embarrassed, put on my Yao Ming face, said “FUCK THAT SHIT” and now I comfortably say SHEDOOL without an ounce of embarrassment.

  19. shamanth says :

    Its a pity really. The Muslims of India whose ancestors were the Turks who migrated to India CENTURIES ago, never actually feel proud of their nationality. And here we have Indians who migrated to America only a couple of years ago not feeling even a bit guilty of leaving their identities. And here I am. I have never set my foot outside India and even I never feel patriotic in the conventional sense…. India is what it is. Only a failed political experiment. Perhaps we shouldnt be too surprised if Hinduism becomes extinct in a couple of 100 years.

    • IndianMuslim says :

      sorry daddy_san, I came here to say Kudos to yr excellent post, but right now there is this small matter of getting matter straight with shamanth who got my goat. Pls indulge me

      yo shamanth, you right wing chaddis need to get your talking points about Indian Muslims straight man. I keep reading several theories and I am confused about the category of traitor-ity I fall in. You see, by a coincidence of historic accidents I happen to be one. The latest in that line of events being my dad fucked my mom, and nine months later, BAM! One more traitor off the factory line. The same way I imagine your dad must’ve fucked your mom to bring you here? (correct me if I am wrong, incase you are a result of your mom’s ménage à trois with Gods themselves)

      If BJP/RSS/Togadia and some your other chaddi-buddies from saffron brigade are to be believed, we were all Hindus, just like you, who were invaded and forcibly converted by Babur, Aurangzeb and other landyas with beard, knee-length flowing gowns and several harems (Not Akbar – he married that Rajput lady, so he’s good). Thus we are all just temporary Muslims, this is Hindustan, we Muslims are all just Hindus by other names, and we will culminate with a grand mega-orgy at the Ganges sometime soon. Bharat Mata ke Bhosde ki Jai!

      On other hand, there are few shades of saffron like you, who in comment-threads like this – which had nothing do with religion, until you starting leaking like a broken sewage pipe – variously call us Turks, Persians, Arabs, and even famine-ravaged Bengalis etc. (btw, between you and me, never call an Persian an Arab or vice-versa, you’ll get killed in both cases. They fucking hate each other, their religions be damned!). Thus by extension, all Indian Muslims in India to this day, have never worshipped Sachin, study Atatürk.as role model and in general we are just living on the sly waiting for our chance to pounce upon the lots of you guys and culminate with a mega Shariah-compliant orgy. We will SOS upon our Afghan and Persian friends when time comes.

      Now I’ll tell you who I am. I am a Konkani Muslim. Konkan region runs through western coast of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka. My forefathers happen to belong to Maharashtra. As far as I’ve read up on my lineage and history, there is an off-chance that someone somewhere in my ancestors must’ve belonged to a long line of African Siddi community (www.kamat.com/kalranga/people/siddi.htm) who landed up at Bharat Mata’s shores back-asswards a few centuries ago. Don’t ask me how. I’m not sure, but there are a few of us whose facial features match that jaw-cut. No, majority of Muslims of my community don’t look like the pics in that link, yes, a few of us are blacks and yes every once in a while we smile. You wanna know how I look? I’ve been mistaken as Gujju-bhai in Bangalore, as Delhiite in Vizag and even as Tam-Brahm in Cochin. Shiva-shiva!! these Mallu guys have no culture, I tell you.

      How am I a Muslim? I fucking don’t know. But I don’t carry it on my sleeve, nor on my ID cards. I don’t even use it for any minority quotas (even tho I could have easily done so), have not yet utilised Haj subsidy nor do I plan to. Got rejected by Tata Sons charitable foundation for my engg scholarship because I was not poor enough, yet I didn’t feel bad because I realised there were ppl who were dealt an even worse hand than me (atleast I was not an orphan!). And I had the sense to realise that lady who gave me the bad news was so polite and apologetic that I actually felt bad for her to give that news to so many like me. A Lion’s club Parsi fellow (God bless his soul!) took pity on me and granted me membership of their circulating-library. Subsequent to my engg, I volunteered my time and money back to that library.

      I’ve resided first 22 years of my life in Bombay (not Mumbai, Bombay), 7 years in Bangalore, 5 years in US, Singapore, Australia, Dubai, UK. My passport was last renewed from Dubai. My driving licence is from Bangalore. I have a domicile certificate from Maharashtra. I paid off one of those patriotic Marathi manoos quite a sum to get that shitpiece of paper. I celebrated each of Tendlya’s centuries like the rest of his fans. I cried when Dravid retired and I know I will cry when VVS does. I volunteered my time for Tsunami relief in TN and was amazed at the quality of village/small-town roads there. I’ve paid my taxes, in advance, extra every single year. Infact I’ve not yet claimed my PF from my ex-companies (I must do so!).

      The Muslims, as do those belonging to other religions, in my circle belong from all over India. (you won’t believe one of my friends is a token Meghalayi too!). My work now takes me all over India. I make new friends and colleagues without a thought about their religion. None of my Muslim friends, colleagues have any loyalty to Turks or Arabs or anyone else. Some of them won’t even be able to locate Turkey on an unmarked map. On second thoughts, probably even I cannot. I eat chicken, mutton and beef. So do most of my Hindu friends. (Get off my Lucknowi Galawati Kebabs you fucking assholes!)

      But don’t let that bit of truth about my lineage and background get in the way of a nice foaming-at-mouth igno-rant in your future comments elsewhere. You do that, while I have to go enjjoy some Youtube videos of Türkoğlu dunking some white-guy’s ass.

      • shamanth says :

        Haha… It was interesting to see how flustered one can get over a small typo and some good old misunderstanding. Well, I am here to justify my comment and calm your nerves.

        1) “The Muslims of India whose….” This was my mistake. It should have been “SOME muslims….” I guess I should have been more careful but I did not expect anyone to take me so seriously.

        2) Are you sure that I am a Hindu?

        3) I am not right wing even by any remote definitions. I have NEVER voted for the BJP or their allies and I very recently came to know who Praveen Tagodia is. I assure you I know that the essence of India is its multiculturalism and diversity.

        4) I DID NOT call the Muslims traitors. I cant understand what made you even think of that word. And in case you didnt notice, I said that even I never felt patriotic in conventional sense. I think, by your terms, I called myself a traitor.

        5) May be you dont wear your religion on your sleeve. There are many Muslims who do and I dont judge them. My motto is ‘Whatever Works.” But isnt it surprising that when the bechara majority even tries to talk about their culture (not even religion) they are accused of being fundamentalists? Double standards, dont you think?

        6) I am a Dravidian who has never set foot in another country. I believe that the ARYAN THEORY OF INVASION is true and that Hinduism did not originate in India. Is it enough to prove my secular credentials?

        7) You talk of worshiping Sachin. If you get a chance, visit some Muslim dominated areas of Hyderabad on an India-Pakistan match day. I am sure it will be an eye opener. I have seen rallies shouting “Paksitan Zindabad” on ocassions when they won.

        8) Some (I repeat… “some”) Muslims support Iran in these troubled times even after knowing that Iran had covertly helped Paksitan in all the wars it had fought had fought against India. I leave it to you to decide what you want to take from that.

        9) My roommate for the last 1 year is a Muslim and he is one of my best friends. I have nothing against anybody and if you thought otherwise, its just a case of bad phrasing of words by me.

        Stay cool. If you want some manpower to whoop some Sriram sene/Bajrang Dal ass for making scenes on V-day, call me.

  20. rads says :

    Most of our second generation kids grow here with a dual identity and more. They do not struggle too much with slotting themselves into any, coz they grow and are raised (by us and the environment around) that they are *all* they can be, not just one or the other. It’s all encompassing. No, not romanticizing it, and sure, they have their questions at a stage when they are able to digest things at a conscious level. Then they realize that they are not the only immigrants here, and 3 out of 4 of their buddies are from outside.
    There is comfort in diversity that unifies. :)

    Your kid will be fine just like mine have been doing fine. They surely may not take pride in all things Indian, but they will ultimately pick what works for them and choose their ways, which will be a heck of a lot more wiser than we did at their age.
    I have two teens and they blow my mind every day as I marvel at how they live their lives.

    My 2 cents. :)

    • daddysan says :

      Thanks rads, you and bhalomanush have shared some reassuring thoughts. There is a possibility I’ll let him be and not fuss over what he’s doing or learning beyond a point :)

      I wonder if that letting go is easier once the child is a teenager, because by then they strengthen and test their value systems with their peers, not parents.

  21. Phukkan (@OutofOrdr) says :

    such a fantastic read. A very good friend of mine is Pakistani (a ha!) he’s actually an Aussie but Pakistani parents. You see he tells me of how when growing up he had to act completely differently at home and out of home. Schizophrenia is him. He grew up unsure of his identity. He tells me how he acted, behaved, went about his day to day so differently than anyone else. Surrounded by white Aussie kids at school where he wasnt one of them because he was a Paki and at home where he was an Aussie born but a Paki. His mentality and identity taking a confused beating each time. Now he thinks he is a black rapper and raps about fighting slavery – but thats another story, for another day :)

    I do believe that Indians like you and I are few and far in between. I find most of us cling on to these “cultural values” no matter how hollow. They impose this on their kids who have no choice but to grow up to be Indians who were born abroad. Leaving them, in my opinion confused and very unsure nationals of two lands they dont belong to. Plus, these “foreign born Indian” kids have an atrocious sense of fashion. No?

    I’ll be looking at you when I have rugrats of my own.

    • daddysan says :

      “Now he thinks he is a black rapper and raps about fighting slavery – but thats another story, for another day :)”

      I’m totally curious so when you have the time, I’d love to hear it. This had me chuckling away for quite a bit.

      The clinging to values is indeed because of parental pressure in my experience. They look like deer caught in the headlights when confronted with particularly foreign moral dilemmas. It’s scary. I don’t want to do that to anyone.

      And thank you for the kind words!

  22. temper temptress says :

    What a beautiful intent – allow the little one to be whosoever he wants to be. If only we had more like you, Daddy San.

    • daddysan says :

      Thank you! Parents who can strike a balance in terms of telling their kids where they’re coming from, so they know where they’re going, are my role models.

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  1. BeingDad » Blog Archive » Identity - April 19, 2012

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