January 15, 2015
I was born in America. I am proud of that. I am South Asian. I’m proud of that, too. Infusing the two sides has been a confusing, chaotic, fantastic ride.Hence, the term, “American Born Confused Desi” emerged. At one time, one felt like they had to choose: either to act all American or all Indian. Infusing the two was never an option until recent times. Many of us have said: “I’m an East/West blend.” Sounds like one of those General Foods International Coffees.
Unintentionally amusing labels aside, bicultural identity is now embraced and not criticized. Nobody is telling us to choose one or the other. On that wonderfully haphazard journey, (at least for me), I have affectionately recognized my past lack of cultural awareness of my South Asian side to create a list of ten misconceptions that I and some of my brethren have shared:
Number 10: Creating your own version of your Mother Tongue thinking you were actually speaking correctly because your family understood what you were saying.
Number 9: Having no conception of what pani puri is or why it is so appealing. I still don’t get it.
Number 8: Thinking that only the kids born in India smelled like khaldi. Believe me, you did, too. That smell gets everywhere and has a life of its own.
Number 7: Never quite mastering a nala. To this day, I will only buy shalwar kameez with elastic.
Number 6: Not every Indian man looks like a nerd or one of your uncles. Some of them are actually pretty hot.
Number 5: Goodbyes cannot be less the thirty minutes. I’ve tried to make them shorter. It doesn’t work.
Number 4: Not every kid born in India or Pakistan is an angel and a paragon of Desi culture.
Number 3: Not being quite sure how to make chai with loose tea because you’re so used to teabags. The first time I ever made chai with loose tea was a perplexing adventure, but I got through it.
Number 2: Thinking every Bollywood actor is either Raj Kapoor or Amitabh Bachchan.
Number 1: Thinking every Bollywood actress has the same singing voice because you did not understand the concept of a playback singer!
Until next time… look behind and beyond the veil…
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer