A little while ago, I blogged about an article that appeared in a recent issue of Little India magazine. It was something, which ticked me off because the writer had barely scratched the surface. In the raging debate, which ensued on “not really Indian”, the comment that stood out the most was from a regular reader, who goes by the name, Living Simple. I asked her if she would be interested in expanding on her thoughts and she graciously said yes. So here it is. Admittedly we don’t know much about this twenty something desi-sista who is a software guru and of course has a wicked pen.
bq. There has been an increasing set of articles, books, and multi-media projects addressing the issue of the “Indo-American” identity “confusion” over the past decade. From the stories addressing the difficulties in fitting in with mainstream society on one hand, while being Indian on another, to fully retaliating (most subtly through the pursuit of education and career) the traditional gender and marriage concepts of the culture.
bq. These avenues allow the authors and creators to make peace and deal with their own self-identity/realization. Yet the one common error would be to take these stories, and let them speak of the current and future generations on the whole.Why? Because each one has their own story. Their own trials and triumphs. And most obviously doing to others what one never wanted others to do unto themselves makes their voice less credible.
bq. The subject of marriage is one of the most prominent issues in South-Asian American Society mirrored in literature. From the strength of characters in going against the grain and dissolving a marriage based out falling out-of-love, to fancying partners of other cultures, or to want to have had a few relationships before settling down to one. Its been hypothesized that these are just a few of the “American” influences in the Indian immigrant society. That in the American ways of ambition and independence, the first generation of Indo-Americans regardless of gender has risen ambitious, independent and self-absorbed.
bq. In their pursuit of this, they have dealt with marriage in their own way, predominantly noted in the media through the increased numbers of late-marriages, out-marriages and no-marriages in those aged 27+. They are apt to recognize their character more as American than Indian.
bq. In some cases the influence of Western ways, and the tormented stories of arranged marriages or their own observations of relationships in their parental generation might have added to how they have taken on the issue of marriage, but not in all as it fails to recognize the economical, social and even political influences on such an issue.
bq. Though its is visible there are American Desis in this group of 27+ who are single and proud, whether one makes the other would be a very wrong conclusion to make. So is the fact that this increasing rate of out-marriages will be the pattern in the group to follow, which are currently in the age range of 19-26. American Desis in this younger group have in many ways showed that they are the exact representation of their race tag — “Indo-American”.
bq. They take as much pride on being Indian if not more than being American, opposite to the former. That’s because of several factors : they grew up with more Indo-American kids of their age in their schools, the Indian pop culture slowly evolved with this generation (that is the increase of Indians in main stream music, club music, and movies), and the parental generation which brought up these kids were probably a bit more practical than traditional strict Indian parents, lessons learned by watching the older ones. Given that there are more of this generation that can understand and associate with each other, they are more probable to marry within the culture …. because not only do they not loose the Indian part of their identity that they are proud of being but they also can keep the American part without too much “confusion”.
bq. One shouldn’t see this as having another group of Indians in America, for this group is still American in their daily lives for being American to them describes the professional, economic, political and lifestyle beliefs.Through many ventures of my own and those around me these are the observations that I have made on the two generations I’m part and regularly in company of.
bq. In good time, books and media will tell the stories of a selected few in the younger Indo-American group, the issues and decisions of their lives including marriage; stories that will be similar but not representative or encompassing of us all.