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The White Hindu has moved! This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Thursday, January 20, 2011

What Do People Say?

I know this is probably another sign of me caring too much about other people and what they think, but I've always been really curious about what people say about me behind my back.

Whenever kids have discussions about what super power would you want to have, I want one that would let me find out.

I think I'm just self-destructively curious.

I wonder if people say about me what Mrs.BBBB says in this post:

From that discussion I have to conclude that finding an Indian boyfriend would not help my case at all! My idea that it might legitimize my behavior doesn't hold up. That's good to know.

I really get the impression sometimes that I am like the red-headed step-child, as the expression goes, in this blog world. There is an entire community of non-Indian women who are married to Indian or Pakistani men and I read many of their blogs and enjoy what they have to say. But I don't fit in. I think they roll their eyes about me. And they may be right, I may be ridiculous.

I have no reason. Whenever I try to explain, it just turns out that I am racist and elitist. Maybe flattered to my face because I'm pretty, but laughed at behind my back.

The thing is, I am happier since I started expressing my full quirkiness. Knowing that there are people rolling their eyes at me behind my back doesn't dampen that happiness very much.

Time will tell. And maybe in time I will let go of my Indian behavior. As many of the commenters on that post said, with time one finds the right balance. I hope that if that does happen that people will not ridicule me. I am on a journey, as hippie as that sounds. I am trying to learn about and understand myself, and I do that however I can figure out.

I think we should all cut each other some slack. People make mistakes, people try out things that don't work, and it would be a lot less scary to try new things if we didn't fear that people were making fun of us.

I know, I know, I keep caring too much what other people think. What can I say? If I didn't care, I wouldn't be writing a blog!

It seems strange to me that when people come to America or England or Australia, that it is expected for them to fit into the culture, wear the clothes, learn the language, etc. Why is it that the same is not expected going the other direction?

Does it make me racist to say that? I hope not. I mean, I'm not sure anyone wants to be a racist. I certainly would hate to find out that I was.

The discussion on the other post has a lot to do with clothes. It seems like both here and in the cities in India, Western clothes are seen as better and more modern. I don't understand why. Personally I find salwar kameez extremely comfortable and practical. I love that they are coordinated because matching is not my forte. I don't see why they are regulated to being "ethnic" clothing and not just being clothing, being a reasonable and legitimate choice for women everywhere.

There is the fear of losing one's self in the culture of one's spouse or significant other. Obviously, that is not going on in my case, but there is still the question of am I giving up my own culture in pursuit of another?

I've said I didn't feel like I had a culture, but LuckyFatima points out that we might not see our culture until we have something to compare it to. I don't know. Are Sunday waffles and Ricky Lake after school a culture? Maybe. It wasn't enough for me, though.

Does it make a difference that I had a Krishna comic book when I was six? That my mom sang the Perfect Prayer at bedtime? That she read stories from The Mahabharata to me? Does that give me some claim? If so, what happens to the people who find a home in Hinduism later, with no background? Sanatana Dharma is available to all, it is universal. But what about culture? Is that available too? What are the rules?

What happens with the children of these interracial marriages? There will be some who look mixed race and some who look Indian, but some will look purely white. We've already seen a couple of these young people who have Western names and blue eyes, but an Indian parent. Will eyebrows be raised if they try to express their culture?

All my life I have longed to belong and yet it is as though no place wants me! I think that sense of being outside of myself is something that I will always carry with me. I think that has something to do with what I am here in this life trying to work out.

Thanks to Mrs.BBBB, who knows how to look right into the heart of issues and state what she sees honestly and with clarity. I am always inspired by reading her posts. As you can see, it raises a lot of questions for me!


  1. Are Sunday waffles and Ricky Lake after school a culture?

    Absolutely, its very American. In the UK kids are more likely to have a jam sandwich and watch Blue Peter!

  2. I just started following your blog from there and I am excited to learn about you. Although I have to admit that I've had a hard time--I will try to open my blog back up today with a past post that I think is will echo your sentiments here. I've always been fascinated with the world and I think that my thoughts and feelings are sometimes contradictory to what I say and do. However, I do not mean to be this way, it just is and it is the balance that I started to seek last year to find out why I felt the need to be so submerged into his culture that I wanted to totally abandon me--who I am.

    As for you in your case, you've explained clearly here what your feelings are and there is a difference--though slightly. You're not married into it, you have nothing to prove or no one to try to impress--no need to "fit in" and be "accepted." So in this case, even though you may see similarities and feel as if you are the example being talked about--which I HIGHLY doubt you're are--you need to take into account those other factors that prompt some women to go to extremes in wanting to be loved, accepted, and feel apart of their spouse by any means necessary. I know for me, it was primarily insecurity and a feeling of him seeing all his friends and family marrying their "own" and me thinking that somewhere in the depths of his mind, he must want that. He must have thought about it when he was younger or in his early 20's approaching marriage age. All things that just exist in my mind since he has never mentioned any of it. I think a lot of women must, at some point, feel like this.

    So don't beat yourself up over this. Everyone is unique and I learned so much from those two posts that I've even reigned myself in on a few issues. Balance...just finding that balance without losing myself--that's the tricky part. As for you, this is you...embrace yourself.

  3. Well, I hope my post didn't make you upset. It wasn't my intent to make anyone angry so much as just to raise questions. That girl bothered me not only because she had chosen to be so subsumed in her husband's culture, but also because she seemed to take herself waaay too seriously and didn't show any interest in finding sisterhood with me--her fellow gori wife (as one of the commenters said "spoilsport!") I think that for you it's a little different because you've chosen to pursue Hinduism on your own. I have a lot of respect for people who come by religion on their own and find places where they comfortable (as opposed to the guru worshippers I met in that garage in Michigan--that was about money). I think that for those of us who married Desis, especially for women who married Desis, there is a really strange expectation that we will "go Indian," as a rather unprofessional therapist put it. I wear my mangalsutra all the time, but many Indians, especially people my own age, find that silly and a sign that I'm trying to be something other than what I am. When I go to the Indian store, I dress like a lumberjack just to create extra confusion while I'm being stared at. I guess that for those of us who are in the position of always being stared at for marrying out of our culture/ethnicity/color, we are a little surprised that anybody who didn't have to would put on those clothes, pretty though they may be, and subject themselves to the awkward stares, giggling, and, yes, even pointing (aunties often have no manners!) that they often bring. I think it's cool if you wear your saris to the temple. I'd wear mine to the temple every once in a while if I wasn't embarrassed to show off my middle.

  4. I think BBBB’s post comes from a different perspective from yours; it focuses of the dilemma of those in a relationship with South Asians and how they might be allowed (by themselves, perhaps more than anyone else) to live an authentic life without being accused of this business of appropriation or being tagged a wannabe. For those who have converted to Islam or Hinduism, or have simply adopted some “cultural” practices, the very fact that they have a South Asian S.O. makes others automatically question their lifestyle, faith or preferences – “is it genuine?” “Were they forced?” “They are exoticizing it!”

    I think your situation is somewhat different – as you’ve so often pointed out, you were born into a family setting framed by the teachings of Advaita Vedanta and so you’ve naturally grown towards Hinduism in adulthood. From my perspective, that seems perfectly authentic though of course, by outward appearances (how we do love to judge a book by its cover) there would be nothing to distinguish you from the kind of fanatic referred to over at BBBB’s blog.

    I can only imagine how excruciatingly frustrating that can be. What unites us all on this topic, however, is this struggle for authenticity. It’s a sad fact that we a long way from a world in which people will not form a preconceived opinion about what they deem to be acceptable behaviour, belief or attire for a person at first glance. We can all strive to lead by example on that subject but in the meantime perhaps it’s a certainty from within which will lead to a greater sense of assurance about our paths. Surely, nobody, but nobody should be able to dictate what life feels right for you – or for anyone other than themselves. You can have umpteen arguments about the correct way to practice a given faith with adherents that way of life, but the prerogative to hold to a belief system, or dress however which way pleases you, is an inalienable right of each and every one of us. You might like to call yourself “Hindu” … but never forget that you are Aambayou are the only one who can define who or what you are.

  5. As Ricky Lake, daytime television and sugary breakfasts are American, I think that a bit of cultural appropriation is, too.

    We're made up of so many different cultures and backgrounds. I think that one of the reasons Americans have such a hard time identifying with their own culture is that American "culture" is either a commercial thing, or an amalgam of many different cultures.

    I've been wrestling with this myself, though. How do I work what I like about Indian culture into my own American culture in a genuine, respectful way? When I wear a sari, is it seen as trying too hard, or showing respect? Can I, as a non-Indian, help share that culture with other non-Indians in a way that doesn't feel derivative? I've been very reluctant, as well, to tell people that I've been practicing Hinduism, because often I find that the people who are the most critical are other Americans (of Western descent).

    One thing I've discovered, though is that through the process of incorporating Indian culture into my life, I've come to see my own culture from a different perspective, and in some ways learned to appreciate things I didn't before (like the fact that my father's family is actually quite English, and that's part of my family culture). Like the whole secular side of Christmas. And barbecues. And road trips.

    I love BBBB's blog, too. I'm glad you posted your thoughts on that post!

  6. This post baffles me.
    You are decidedly Hindu.
    For whatever reason, that is your path & your choice - it attracted you and you are happy, what matters other than that?
    I don't really understand what sort of feedback you are looking for but I will respond to some of your statements very frankly.

    1. I don't think you fit in with the desi link bloggers, you are right and to think you would is silly.
    However, on the other hand - we do not roll our eyes at you at all. Why would we?
    We coexist and a lot of the issues you struggle with are similar to ours.
    Yes, I understand we are in similar situations but being Hindu & studying a religion will never be the same as blogs about relationships and living with an Indian.
    Indians are Indians, regardless of religion. Just like Americans are Americans regardless of religion.
    It is impossible for you to study Hinduism and general tid bits about Indian culture and understand it the same way someone with real life experience, or perspective from an Indian would.
    Not that either is right or wrong, but our understandings of certain things will always be worlds apart.
    I don't think you would realise & I frankly did not want to mention it - but you have me listed as a Western Hindu.
    I find that offensive. I am not Hindu, nor am I married to a Hindu.
    I am married to a Sikh man.
    Being married to a Sikh man, does not make me a Sikh woman - nor does it make me anymore Indian than you.

    You aspire to be a Hindu, speak Hindi etc.
    We fell in love with men that happen to be different and adapt to live happily with our partners.

    We do not convert or perish and I think amongst a lot of us 'Gori Wives' we like to take the best of both worlds.
    Everything in India is not perfect - at all, nor is everyting in Australia. However, spending time in India did give me the parallel to recognise what I love about my culture that isn't just what I had been thinking 'everyone does'. I 100% recommened a trip to India & if you can, stay with a family, learn about the dynamics.
    To understand Hinduism, you have to understand Hindustan (India).

    2. I don't necessarily agree with your comment on Western culture, but I do understand the point that is being made.
    In truly multicultural societies, ethnicities and individuality flourishes.
    I see salwar kameez everyday in Melbourne, I see African ladies in their tradition outfits, I see burqas and Hijabs.
    How much people integrate is entirely up to them, and the roles they want to play in the countries of their residence.
    Sure, it is harder in Australia to be a Sikh than in native Amritsar, but a change of scenery does not dictate a change of who we are.

    India has sooo much Western influence throughout.
    Everywhere you look, someone is trying to be more Western than they actually are.
    God knows why, perhaps British India really made them crazy - but Indian people want to be outwardly modern & Western.
    They associate fairness with beauty and wealth, and aspire to be like western counterparts.
    Hence, when Western expats go to India, they feel no need to change - they already fit in, their Indian counterparts already speak the language.

  7. It is a completely different ballgame.
    In this equation Western is always seen as superior and Eastern inferior (by the Indian mind, never heard of the Indian inferiority complex?).

    Now, please never make the assumption that a 'Gori Wife' is an Indian, because that will never be the case. If and when we go to India, it is to be with our Indian partner - not to become Hindu or Sikh or 'Indian'.
    Often we are merely tourists, and as such the degree to which we assimilate is our choice.

    Whilst salwar kameez are comfortable, they are also restrictive. Dupattas flop about and get in the way, Salwar are impractical and catch wind.
    When a girl wears salwar, she has to ride side saddle, however if she is wearing jeans she can ride how she likes.
    Indian women are experiencing change, liberation, new freedom, new respect & power, they do not want to be covered head to toe in something deemed 'traditional', traditional, simple, backward. Western women do not go around wearing full length dresses, with full sleeves as we did in the past.
    We love the freedom of knee length skirts and sleeveless shirts.
    We like to wear whatever we want.
    Indian children are raised wearing Western clothes - in their schools they wear Western clothes, in their homes they wear Western clothes, Western clothes are normal for them too.
    Not to mention the fact that Salwar kameez are 100% useless for warmth in cold Indian winters and deemed unflattering by short and skinny Indian girls.

    3. Taking on accepts of other cultures does not mean we necessarily have to give things up.
    You are not being forcibly converted to Hinduism, you can choose how far you do or do not go with you religion.
    Trust me, once you get to India you will realise the difference in culture.
    You will be grateful for safety, for freedom, for cutlery, for western toilets, toilet paper, straight forwardness, honesty, punctuality, a lack of social obligation, a different concept of respect where it is earned before it is given, and the list goes on.
    When you visit India, you will bless your cotton socks for what is very close to gender equality in western society, you will understand the different family dynamics & by hook or by crook you will be realising what it is you love about your American culture. As flawed as western society is, freedom of actions and thought and speech is priceless & you would see in India that it is different there. People are far more caught up in a concept of not disrespecting or disappointing elders than being free to live their dreams...
    Just go and check it out, you will understand so much more afterwards!
    Indian partners have to have so many Western things explained to them, because there are so many concepts that are just not understood.
    I for one, value speaking one language and speaking it very well & not being pressured into knowing three languages, obtaining a masters, getting a socially acceptable job and finding a socially acceptable husband.

  8. 4. Why do you need to justify your life choices?
    You like Hindu scriptures and religion, they resonate with you, they are in alignment with you as a person.
    You enjoy learning and experiencing new things.
    What else does there need to be?
    There are white Sikhs, white Muslims, Black Christians and probably purple Jews.
    Your skin colour does not define who you are, thinking it does is mad.
    The world is catching up to Indian culture, and it likes it.
    Time always changes things, and don't seek approval from anyone except yourself.

    If you like being a Hindu, you don't need another reason.
    If I love an Indian man, I don't need another reason to be with him.

    5. Very rarely does a religion define a culture, it is always the culture defining a religion.
    Scriptures, texts and wise words are always based on the culture in which they are written, so back to the same point.

    6. Eyebrows will always be raised, people will always be ignorant and curious and sometimes mean.
    When I have a mixed race child, I will raise them in a mixed race home.
    Not an Indian home, or an Australian home - because they will be neither.

    7. Hindus are Indians. Indians want to be with Indians.
    White people, generally stick to white people.
    It is the way it goes.
    The frank matter is, your religion does not have to define you, so why must you let it?

    You will find more people in your situation as they find you.
    The gori wives get a lot of what it is that you are going through, and you are so totally welcome to belong with us!


  9. Aamba,

    It's natural to wonder if people think we are stupid or nuts or just plain weird. When I became Muslim, a friend sewed shalwar qamiz for me, and I loved wearing them. I married an Arab guy, and he didn't care what I wore. I wasn't "pretending", just liked the clothing and wanted something modest. Much easier to get around in than a long dress. When I left Islam, I kept the Muslim name I had changed to legally while Muslim. I liked it, and it wasn't obviously a Muslim name. If I were thinner, I'd definitely buy some shalwar qamiz and wear them once in a while. Indian clothes are beautiful!

    I have a daughter who is half Indian and looks totally Indian, and 3 kids who are half arab. They are welcome to use any of their father's cultures or not as they choose.

    I say just do what is best for you, and tell people who don't like it to sod off ;)


  10. I feel very lucky that I have such intelligent and articulate commenters! You know how much I appreciate you!

    BBBB, don't worry, I wasn't upset or offended at your post, it just raised lots of questions and thoughts for me and that's a good thing. I've been low on inspiration because I've honestly been feeling very secure and welcome in my community, so it was good to start thinking deeply about these issues again.

    Bad Bhabhi, I'm sorry if I listed you as Hindu, I didn't intend to. I'm pretty sure that I mentioned you were with a Sikh man on the post where I linked to your blog and I wasn't sure if you were taking his religion or not! Please let me know any references to yourself that you would like me to change, I want to be accurate!

    Strangely enough, I have never found suits to be restrictive at all. That may be because I didn't wear jeans growing up, I wore ankle length skirts (I have always been a bit old fashioned). Even through the winter I keep wearing suits and put a cardigan over them. I probably look like an eighty year old woman, but that's a comment I've gotten all my life!

    Anyway, I'm not sure what I wanted to say about this exactly, but I thought it is great that we all continue to think about these issues and check in with ourselves and make sure that we are being true to ourselves.

  11. Amba, on your directive i went there and soon found myself suffoctaed in this girl talk and exited rather hastily. Never again.
    Yes. pleasae do exactly what you REALLY like to do. Just my 2 cents- wear something desi to mandirs. My indian wife does that and no other times she wears indian or bindi.No prostration in front of deities either.Just a plain namaste, as u wish a stranger in an indian way, is all that the deity gets.Im sure brhama wont take offence.

  12. I don't think anyone is judging you (not sure where racist or elitist comes in, certainly no one I can see is rolling eyes at anyone). I was certainly reflecting on myself when I read the BBBB post...Cagey/Kelli George said it well when she talked about forgiving her younger self for engaging in cultural misappropriation and later finding a balance with incorporating Other Culture into her life---that is not true for you but I identified with what she said quite a bit.

    Your life is intersected with South Asia, just like ours. All of us are so different, also. Different ethnic backgrounds and countries, different careers, different religions, the same with our husbands, ex-husband, deceased husbands, boyfriends. Christians, Sikhs, Muslims, Hindus, atheists, whatever. Funny we bond together because maybe a Keralite and a Bangladeshi would find it ludicrous that Australian and American white women were bonding over our supposed 'desi connections,' but when we read each others' narratives, certain things ring true. BBBB's post rung true for many of us, self included. We are all different, but we have some South Asia connection. That is why we come here to read what you have to say and maybe why you find the pardesi-desi rishta blogs interesting. I don't think you are a black sheep. Between you and me personally, I see things I have in common with you since we are both practicing religions of our choice as converts. We are all very different, but I like the connections we make on our blogs.

    I recall reading that you said white American people have no culture in one post, but I was certainly not addressing you when I mentioned that in my blog post (it was in the context of Muslim converts). To be clear, that is something that I have heard said and read written many many times, and which is patently untrue. It is part of a white American cultural myth.

    Perhaps we all have similar concerns: cultural misappropriation, fitting in and finding acceptance, being authentic, being ourselves, etc. I know I am concerned with these issues.

    We are all 'just being ourselves.' Just keep on being you and doing what makes you feel stimulated and spiritually fulfilled. That is the bottom line.

  13. I'm being too sensitive again, I think! And I'm hard on myself. I imagine people are saying worse things about me than they actually are. I'm pretty sure we all do that. :)

    LuckyFatima, I like that comment too about forgiving yourself when you later find balance.

    Surya, sorry for the girl talk!

  14. Salwar kameez is the most comfortable dress during winters as we wear inners and leggings inside them and be warm.
    Shikhism and Jaininsm are considered Hindus according to Supreme court of India.
    Inequality between man and woman does exits as I told you previousely Amba.
    It is true that to understand hinduism you have to understand hindustan.
    Indians do value fairness to a certain extent but it is not western kind of fairness.

  15. Hey Aamba,

    I don't hugely mind being on your "list of Western Hindus", especially considering you were trying to show some niceties!!
    I am just making a point to you.
    1. That gori wives are not hopeless converts bowing to traditional gender roles.
    2. That being in India would help you understand so much more about what you are learning about.
    Whilst in my Punjabi community there is no bad blood carried from 1984 and the genocide of many Sikhs perpetrated by Hindus, lots and lots of Sikhs would not take being referred to as Hindu lightly at all.
    In 1984, lots of Sikhs died at the hands of Hindus & while the situation was complex, people still living today remember their relatives who were murdered by Hindus.

    If you find something you like, that is all that matters, it really doesn't matter if it is art and craft or a religion.
    If you are happy, that is great & I hope you can find more people on the same path as you!

    To Ela's comment that the Supreme court says Sikhs are considered Hindus - I could not care less. That is like the Pakistan Supreme Court calling them Muslims.
    There are influences from both sides, but Sikhs the world over are decidedly separate to Hindus and many Sikhs find it offensive to be labeled 'Hindu'.
    Sikhs have had a major place in the British Commonwealth countries, and Westerners happily recognise the differences & accept Sikhs as a separate entity.
    In my experience, so do Hindus (except of course for fundamentalists that want to claim every Indian as a Hindu).
    A huge amount of the Sikh community does not live in India (like my husband) so what India says means nothing.
    Also, please do not forget the place of your Sikh brothers in preventing a Muslim take over of Hindus in India.

    Also to Ela's comment, the vast majority of Indian women living in metros prefer jeans, prefer pants & prefer skirts.
    I cannot vouch for them, merely collude to some of the reasons I have been made aware of.

  16. I'm sorry to be dense, I just still don't see where I ever called you a Hindu. I have you on my list of blogs and other resources, but that was not meant to be a list of only Hindu resources, I've had blogs on there from Jews too. I did a post on gori blogs with a list, but I had Muslim and Christian interfaith couples on there as well, that also was not meant to be a Hindu list. As I said, I wasn't sure if you were Christian or if you had converted or how that works with Sikhism, but I'm pretty sure I've never said you were Hindu.

    Now, I don't know a lot about Sikhism. I do know about the 1984 bloodshed, but in terms of philosophy, etc. I'm pretty ignorant, so that's on my list of things to learn more about.

  17. Sure woman not just in metros but in other smaller cities of India wear jeans but it is their personal choise.It is not because salwar kameez are not suitable for winters.
    Many Indians -muslims ,christians, sikhs maintain close ties with India and ofcourse what India says matters to them a lot.
    Hindus did kill sikhs during 1984 riots but many many times more hindus were being killed during khalistan movement before that. That includes our late prime minister Indira Gandhi.
    Hindus and Shikhs both carry scars of those days but have come or trying to come up those days. we intermingle very easily now and I see no tension between us. I hope stating that fact does not make me a fanatic.

  18. Aamba,

    I am a nong and incorrect.
    I for some reason assumed that the first link on the list was some sort of subtitle.
    My apologies!

    To Ela,
    I am not taking any sides regarding 84', the Khalistan movement, or anything else in history.
    The point I am making is that Sikhs do not like to be labeled Hindus & with endless and very good reason.
    Aamba is not the Indian Supreme Court and actually respects peoples' preferences as most reasonable people would.
    The point you are making about the supreme court is just silly - I am not talking about any stupid legal definition put down by a corrupt justice system in India, I am talking about the preference of Sikhs and I am certain that you are Hindu & hence would have difficulty understanding things from the perspective of Sikhs.
    My family happily intermingles with Hindus and Muslims and Christians, but that does not mean they are all of the same religion.
    Trying to say that Sikhs are Hindus is much like saying that Muslims are Christians, as Christianity was around first or that Christians are Hindus because Hinduism was around before JC.
    I have a very good understanding of the Justice system & government as my Husbands' relatives have been both advocates, and officers of the IAS - hence I know that any claim that the judicial system in India is not corrupt is a lie.

  19. Oh and PS Ela,
    you are arguing hugely stupid points - arguing with me over why I think women don't wear salwar as much as Aamba thinks they should & the fact that my Sikh husband does not like to be called a Hindu.
    I was merely explaining to Aamba my opinions as to why salwar kameez are not worn commonly by younger women, not anything further.
    "Salwar kameez are 100% useless for warmth in cold Indian winters" were my exact words and that is true. When worn in winter they need to be coupled with other items of clothing to make them suitable including western accessories like tights/stockings/cardigans - whereas jeans and a western sweater are a fast and easy option.

  20. Bad Bhabhi, Oh good, that's a relief, I was afraid I was missing something major and being stupid.

    Sorry about Ela pouncing on you, don't take it too personally, okay?

    Ela, I love you, but go easy!

    You both have very valid points of view on this, and certainly more experience in it than I!

  21. Yeahh...

    Very gracious of you to think a crazy lady like me was correct!


    With regard to Ela, I believe what I believe and as does she - attempting to discredit my opinions is just silly, I formed those opinions based on my experiences in life & not hers...
    Hence we could never agree!


  22. @Aamba
    I really find mixed signals from you. Sometimes you pose questions so daunting that I have to ponder over them for days, and most of the time I think I cant come up with a good reply. So one would expect from you the persona of an intellect and an introvert.( Just like me!!! I would prefer a book any time against say a party)
    Then posts like this where you "think too much" are diametrically opposite to that persona?? why worry so much about so many people?? IMHO, the girl in BBBB's post was reacting to an "identity crisis".From what i have read on your blog you seem to have a well defined identity of a western Hindu. Why then this futile pondering?? Even if say hypothetically you are the girl BBBB talks about and I do form the above opinion about you. How dose that affect your devotion/inner self/ belief??? By the way that girl also seemed mean. You are definitely not her!! So relax and be comfortable in your skin.
    @Bad Bhabhi
    It seems you have fixated your mind to a uni dimensional view of India.
    What do you mean by everyone is trying to become western.Becoming modern and western are two different things you know. Becoming modern means allowing an inclusive democracy, tolerance and better(read modern) education to flourish. Becoming western is adopting western practices like pubing, bachelor parties etc. While I do agree that a lot of people are into stuff like that, i think you are generalizing.
    And Fairness= Wealth....that sounds illogical?? I am a very fair person but i am not what you call wealthy.
    And western clothes are preferred only because they are highly convenient, not because they are superior or anything. Do a google search on "Chanda Kochhar". She is currently one of the most successful woman in India and you will rarely see her without a sari.

  23. I am not clear on what you mean by "respect where it is earned before it is given", not only in India, but also in east asia(china , Japan), there is a tradition of respecting people for their age.And experience is the best teacher after all is'nt it. Do you earn a seven figure salary just after graduating???

    "People are far more caught up in a concept of not disrespecting or disappointing elders than being free to live their dreams"
    This is just plain offensive... you mean to say that individualism is only for western folks and Indians are supposed to be socially suppressed?? that an Indian dose not have any right to his own whims and fancies?? and social pressure is also there in the west is'nt it? the pressure to succeed, to beat your peers, to get a good life partner, just look at Aamba, is she not waiting for someone. Its the same everywhere.
    "Indian inferiority complex"
    Let me tell you I am born and raised in india and I don't feel a wee bit inferior to any other entity in the world. Just what do you mean by inferiority complex. I see you have been to Amritsar. Punjabi people in general are cajoled by the west( just look at the no. of sikh ppl in UK/canada etc), it does'nt mean that every punjabi (sikh/non sikh) or every indian is like that.In fact if you read the news papers you will see most western nations flocking here and literally begging us to open our markets. Surprisingly your "superior" western corporations are a bunch of thieves and cheats. They are trying to patent, yoga , Ayurveda and all other goodies that India invented(and gave away for free) and rip off money. Just do a google on "US yoga patent" and see your superior western people ripping money off. I would agree that generally western technology is better than us but we will erase that gap in a few decades. Infact we have innovated to make a lot of stuff better. A few examples that come to mind are:
    1. the $2500 car (TATA NANO) which has passed the European safety tests.
    2. Notion Ink(all co founders educated totally in India) an Indian start-up produces a better tablet, named "Adam" than iPad.
    3. The Indian Missile Brahmos, the world's only supersonic missile, Only India & Russia have this tech and the US would need 7 years to master it.
    Just because we are poor( because of your civilizational "proliferation") does not mean we are Inferior.

  24. "being pressured into knowing three languages"
    If you know anything about India, you would know that we CHOSE the three language system. During the formation of the republic people refused to compromise on their culture and language and accept homogeneity , so we accepted every major language as an official language and one can conduct his business with the state(federal) in any of these languages. at the state level there is usually one language that is prevalent and states can accept business in either that or Hindi or English. English is the default language because it is essential to integrate into the world.Even in the European union say a Dutch person would need to , depending on his profession, learn apart from English german ( second most used used scientific language after english) or French ( second most used business language after english). Would you call that forced?? I have been speaking three languages from birth( Marathi, Hindi ,English) and I am as fluent as a native in all three. also no one is required to learn three languages. There are multiple curricula and each curriculum can also be tailored to a specific language as the language of instruction. In fact I am learning German to further my professional goals. So it might be necessary to learn multiple languages .. Nobody Forces you to, they cant because its a democracy.
    "obtaining a masters, getting a socially acceptable job and finding a socially acceptable husband"
    HA HA HA, don't people in the western world do that to improve their social standing and quality of life. it just becomes more important in India because we have to work hard for the same luxuries, because of a higher population Base!! We are not some rich country where people get showered with middle class luxuries just for finishing school( and why should they??)!!
    About that "attack" on golden temple.. a religious occasion was being used to harbor separatists. The commander of the mission (named "Blue Star" ) was a sikh and he invaded and killed them. if some people thought that it was Hindus attacking Sikhs its their fault and then when the riots followed ( propelled by extremists from both sides) all hell went loose, and there is no "bad blood" because sane people understand this.
    Honestly the whole point of this "text" I wrote was to prevent Aamba( or any other silent reader of this blog) to have a prejudiced opinion about India, because it is just beyond my( and your) capability to fully capture. Let them form their own impressions. I have no desire to alter your views.

  25. I do give mixed signals. I apologize for that. I have a very complex personality and I can sometimes seem like different people.

    Some days I am very secure and confident and fine with what I am doing.

    Other days I am sensitive and fearful and frustrated with myself.

    I am working on becoming steadier and being always comfortable in my own skin, but it is still a work in progress.

    (I am crossing my fingers that we can avoid a big political discussion...)

  26. It is very strange that westerners go to India for few months and then form their opinions based on visiting certain parts of India. When they give silly arguments about clothes , community reltionships ,we try to correct them.
    Amba I was not going strong on anybody merely stating true facts. I think first you should have a through knowledge of a country only then you should talk. Havin relatives in judicial system or IAS might teach you certain facts but not knowledge.Stop generalising abut India plz.

  27. Regarding our judicial system ,what is corrupt about its verdict that sikhism,jainism and budhism are sects of hinduism? Most of us Indians still have faith in our judicial system and democracy and I thank god for that.

  28. need to apologize it is just how you are, and no one should apologize for how they are. I have gone through that feeling.
    And don't worry I wont post more stuff like that.....I have seen on previous occasions how politics derails a good discussion and sucks people in. i have no interest in scoring debate points against BB.

  29. indian judiciary doesn't say jainism, sikhism and buddhism are sects of hinduism.

    in particular, few years ago supreme court specifically stated that jainism is not a part of hinduism .

    but what is there is that all these 4 religions have a common civil code - which is called hindu family law.
    it is just a name and the laws have nothing to do with hinduism .

    India is supposed to have a common civil code for all religions . but for things which i am not going into that is yet to be implemented.

  30. @All the gentle babhi's above
    Indian judiciary does not recognize hindus and sikhs as same. The most common argument thrown around is "why should sikhs marry under the hindu marriage act?". Truth is, the act is actually meant for *dharmic* religions(hindusim/sikhism/buddhism/jainism). All non-dharmic religions(christianity/judaism/islam) are considered under the special marriage act. A lot of these arguments are found on khalistani websites which are actually registered and run by pakistani members.

  31. @Aamba
    Your post is very personal and touching.

    I have read many critical opinions from white westerners about not being accepted by the hindu community or the indian community. Most white hindus as treated as pariahs. You need to understand that the idea of utopia for a hindu-nationalist does not run beyond the realms of the indian subcontinent. But that is slowly changing. Indian subgroups follow strict endogamy practices and the lack of a central authority makes the reforms process very slow.

    However, I realise that you find yourself questioning your identity. Let me try to explain some things to you about india and indians...

    We indians(we hindus specifically) are in actuality, "indics" in nature. Majority of the indians have not read the bhagwat gita or any other religious texts. 90%+ of the indian population do not even own these books. This entire book business does not interest us.

    On Indic:
    Indic-ness is not hinduism. Indic-ness is not about the cloths you wear. It is not about how many times you go to the temple. It is not whether you believe in a god. The significant trait of indic-ness is the idea of "pluralism".

    It is about questioning ourselves while agreeing to Mr. A claims that his god does exist somewhere in deep space while you know perfectly well that you are an atheist. That is "pluralism"! That is why hindus have no problem visiting a mosque or a church because it doesn't hurt anyone.

    How do you know that a god exists? How do you know that he doesn't exist?

    For example, how can you prove that a sixteen-headed omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient supernatural donkey that plays a piano – or a harp – somewhere in deep space doesn’t exist? Or a race of aliens with tomatoes for heads? I could go on adding one more head to the donkey in question and we have an infinite series of triple-o entities that you have to prove don’t exist.

    What im trying to explain to you is that "indic-ness" is not about religion. Mr. A's god can walk on water. Sure, why not? My gods can split a mountain in half, fly in deep space and the swallow the whole sun. I can play this game with you as as much as you want. And that is the point of these hindu mythologies. They were intentionally made to be so ridiculous that you realise the purpose they wanted to achieve.

    So please, be the kind of enlightened hindu that the fathers of these teachings want you to be. And you won't achieve it by wearing a sari or a bindi or by trying to socialize in an indian cultural event.

    BTW Im an indic(hindu) at heart and an indian by identity. If you are a white american then that is your identity. Do not try to be an indian when you are not. Hinduism is not meant as a banner to be carried around. That is why indians do not accept white hindus because they think they can never become indics at heart.