The White Hindu has moved

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 This blog is no longer updated, but Ambaa is still writing The White Hindu every weekday at

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Maybe I'll Say I'm Going to Temple Later...?

I should probably stop obsessing over clothes!

I couldn't wait for an opportunity to wear this sari! My mom gave me a bag of unwanted saris from a friend. This one came with a pink, poofy-sleeved blouse that was very dated. I just swapped it for a white blouse I already had and it's perfect. I love it.

Unfortunately the picture does not do it justice. You can't really see that there are flowers made of pink beads all over it. And it flows so beautifully.

Ran into an Indian guy at the accountant's office today and he said, "Beautiful sari" as I passed. He did look a tiny bit stunned, though.

It's perhaps more of a spring look rather than a fall one, but hey, whatever :)

Something I love about blogging is the exchange of ideas and the opportunity to explore new thoughts by talking with each other. Andrea M. has a great post today about how we learn about new cultures.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Another Take on Clothes

My Next Life posted the link for this article in the comments section of yesterday's post. Very appropriate subject! It wonders why clothing creates so much scandal.

Some months ago, I began to wear a certain sartorial item that I had long admired. That I was turned away from two stores when I tried to purchase the said item should have given me a clue about what was to follow. Still, purchase it I did, for myself, for no reason other than that I found it beautiful.
The humble metti, nuptial toe-rings, were by far the most subversive thing that I – doyenne of firetruck-red lipstick, leopard-print thigh-highs and strapless sari blouses – had ever worn.
“What next? If thaalis were ‘pretty’ would you wear one too?” snapped someone.
“You’re not supposed to!” exclaimed another. Such a simple condemnation. Supposed

Interesting to note that Indian girls are not free from the controversy of choosing to do Indian things in new ways.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Clothes v.s. Ethnic Clothes

I'm starting to wonder why me wearing salwar kameez and other Indian clothes is so unusual.

Somehow, and I'm not sure how but racism is probably involved, Western style clothes became the default. When you talk about "clothes," what you're picturing in your mind is probably jeans, t-shirts, blazers. Whereas Indian clothes are *Indian* clothes. Not just clothes.

Why should Western clothes be the default?

Jeans, t-shirts, pencil skirts, and trousers are not the definition of clothes. They are an option. Salwar suits, kurtas, saris and lenghas are other options.

We should all embrace all the choices that the fashion of the world has to offer! As Andrea M. pointed out in the comments on her blog, we have come to see things like Norwegian sweaters as regular clothes. Why not Indian clothes?

Not as cultural mis-appropriation. Not as culture at all. Just as clothes that make us feel beautiful.

Wear salwar kameez and sari because you love them, not because they are Indian! I believe we should start a trend. Americans wear salwar suits. Why? Because they are comfortable, beautiful, and easy to move in.

{As a side note, my boyfriend has a friend who is an acupuncturist and in tune with subtle energies. Apparently this man told him that I give off a much more authentic energy when I'm wearing Indian clothes!}

On a related note:

Andrea M posted a link in her blog to this article about a French woman who loves wearing saris and also wedding bangles.

With the clothes, I really can't see it being a problem. This woman loves the look and feel and experience of saris and that's awesome. It's making saris something that people like, admire, and respect.

The wearing of wedding bangles when she isn't married gives me pause. And it gave others pause too. That was the first time I started to see this issue of cultural mis-appropriation. But then I kept thinking about it.

My boyfriend said this is the same thing that people feel about dread locks. I've gotten into online arguments before about whether it's okay for white people to wear dreads. Personally I feel like you can do whatever you like to your hair. If it's possible to create a hairstyle, then I don't think it can be "copyrighted" for lack of a better word.

He said that dreads signify a spiritual achievement in the Rastafarian culture and that's why it is upsetting to them if others use them.

To me I still can't see it. It sounds like a culture saying: "We're going to take this hair style and make it ours alone and none of the rest of you are allowed to do it (even if you accidentally discover it completely on your own)"

So then I started thinking, why is the wedding bangles any different? Can a culture tell someone else that she can't wear jewelry of a particular type because it's been, essentially, trademarked?

Here's the thing:

I long to wear a manglasutra. Not just because they are beautiful, but because I know what they mean and I want to be married. Very much so. I want both the beauty and the cultural significance and so I would never, ever, ever wear one when I was not married.

But if I were someone who was not a Hindu and just saw a beautiful necklace...? I don't know if I could really call it wrong to wear something purely for its beauty when the cultural significance isn't, well, significant to the person. If I were to craft a necklace based on inspiration from a manglasutra, could someone really tell me that I couldn't wear my own creation?

Her wearing the bangles suggests to people who are Indian that she is married. But is it such a horrible thing to mislead that way? I can think of much worse things! And it makes me think of American girls who wear fake engagement rings to avoid being hit on at work.

What do you think?

New Friend

The Internet is absolutely remarkable for bringing people together.

Thanks to being Facebook friends with a blogger that I met once at a blog meetup, I got into a fascinating discussion about white women wearing Indian clothes and through that conversation I met Andrea M. who has just started a blog.

She is part of the community of western white women married to Indian men. I've enjoyed many wonderful conversations with such girls even though I don't quite fit that model!

Here is the link to her blog. Our conversations definitely sparked some thoughts in me, so I'll have a few new posts coming out shortly.


Friday, August 24, 2012

Sari Love

Can't believe it's been a year and half since this picture! 

I have a new sari and I'm itching for an opportunity to wear it.

The White Indian Housewife Has a Book

I'm behind in checking in with some of my fellow bloggers and I didn't even realize that Ms. Sharell Cook has a book out!

It looks gorgeous. I love the cover!

I'd love to find out more about the background of the wonderful blogger behind White Indian Housewife, so this is going on my wishlist for sure.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Being In Control

I don't think I'm much of a control freak. Not any more or less than the average person. In fact, maybe even a little less. I'm comfortable with other people taking the lead in most things and have a lot of trust in others. But there are a few places where the lack of control is terrifying.

Death is the main one.

It seems like we as human beings feel a need to create the illusion that we are in control in the big areas of our lives. Like the superstitious rituals of baseball players wearing their lucky pair of socks, I think we all have these little rituals that we like to think prevent disaster.

When my boyfriend had to fly to London unexpectedly, I was hit with an enormous fear that his plane would go down. This was just projecting my own fear of planes onto his situation, but I couldn't figure out how to release that fear and put faith and trust in the universe.

I've heard a lot about "manifesting" and "the secret," which believes that you can control your fate by visualizing what you want and putting positive energy into that visualization. I've heard a lot of people using prayer to feel in control of the outcome of something. My dad surprised me by saying that he's always felt that if he visualized the worst case scenario it couldn't happen because only the unexpected seems to happen.

All just illusions to make us feel better because living with the knowledge that you will not be in control of when and how you die is terrifying.

I'm thinking about this because of a train accident. I work in historic Ellicott City, where very late Monday night, a train went off the rails and dumped twenty-one train cars and their cargo of coal all over Main st. Two young women were killed.

They were 19 years old, on holiday from college, and they had been sitting up on the bridge where the train passes. They had probably been drinking. But they weren't on the tracks and if the train had functioned normally, they would have been fine. Somehow, at the moment that the train was passing them, something went wrong and the two girls were buried in coal and killed so fast that their bodies were found still sitting.

People have had mixed reactions to this.

I will admit that my first instinct is to say "They were being stupid. They were on the tracks. They shouldn't have done that. It's their own fault."

It's so very tempting to continue with that line of thinking. Because then it isn't random. It isn't out of my control. They died because they made a stupid choice.

But I don't think it's that simple.

People hang out at that bridge all the time. It wasn't the wisest choice, but it doesn't mean they were courting death. What a crazy freak accident to be killed by coal falling from train cars. How more unlikely can you get?

On Facebook there is a friend of a friend trying to say that we do control being safe. She makes good choices and is careful. She would never go near train tracks, she wears her seat belt, she doesn't drink, she goes to bed early, etc. Good for her.

But if death wants her, it will still find her.

People die from the strangest and most unpredictable events. A stranger could run off the road by accident and kill her standing on the sidewalk. Perhaps she would say she shouldn't be outside at all. Too risky. So her house could collapse on her. Perhaps she would say that she would have had it inspected more closely.So a gas leak could start in the middle of the night. Etc.

There are people who do insanely dangerous things every day and don't die from it. There are people who have never taken a risk and die in a freak accident.

This makes me really believe that everyone does have a "time" and there's nothing you can do to prevent it or make it come sooner. (Okay, maybe suicide. I haven't thought through that one!)

When my best friend died, she had done everything right all her life. No one would find fault with any of her behaviors. No one would be able to blame her for her own death.

It is a double tragedy that people blame these young girls for their own deaths, smug and secure in the knowledge that they would never do anything risky like that.

We are not in control. I hope the Gods are and that the universe is an ordered place as I've always believed it to be. But we are not in control of its pattern.

Friday, August 17, 2012

The Gaps in my Experience

Last night the boyfriend and I were talking about Alan Watts and Richard Bach. Boyfriend said (paraphrasing...I did not have a tape recorder!) "Alan Watts may have misunderstood or simplified, but he did have a gift for framing eastern ideas for a western audience to understand."

I was suddenly struck with an odd thought.

I do not have this gift!

As you know, I am white. I am pretty white-bread American looking (though my hair is dark, not blonde). I grew up in America and have never lived for any extended period abroad. And yet.

And yet there are places in my brain that are purely eastern.

Because I grew up with eastern philosophy as part of my life from the very first moment, I am lacking some of the normal western mind. This has come up a few times in the past where boyfriends and friends have been startled or confused to find my ingrained assumption of a situation being not at all western. Even my parents have occasionally found themselves surprised by this phenomenon. I don't think they realized that raising me with eastern philosophy was going to shape my brain and how I see the world.

I cannot translate eastern ideas to a western mind because my mind is not fully western. Plenty of it is, of course, but when it comes to philosophy, religion, and spirituality, that's almost entirely eastern.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Onsite Opportunity

I was sent a copy of this novel by the author.

It is charming, even though it relies heavily on summary and sometimes I feel as though information is just being thrown at me rather than getting immersed in a story. The glimpses of story are often brief and surrounded by a lot of exposition, but it's interesting and light exposition, so it wasn't a big problem.

What I really like about it is that while showing some of the absurdities of modern life in India, it doesn't descend into bitterness or superiority. It lacks the negativity of so many books that I see.

The writing itself is clean and fresh. It bothers me a little bit that there's a lot of explanation along with dialog, which feels weak. That information would be better coming from the words and actions of the characters, rather than the reader just being told, i.e., " 'Give it your best, guys!' The team was excited." I would rather see what the team members are doing to show that excitement. Are they turning to one another and grinning? Are they elbowing one another and joking? It's difficult to visualize the scene when so little is given.

It's a short book and I think that's due to so much summary and more telling than showing, as in the example above. Along with that, it is definitely more character-driven than plot-driven, but Ganga is an enjoyable character to follow. He has an endearing innocence about him.

There's a great part near the beginning where Ganga is proud to present his business card to an important business client, but it causes the client to get angry that only an associate engineer and not someone higher up is there! I like the way Ganga is completely taken aback by this. He was so proud and excited, doing his best to be the height of professional, but it is not taken the way he expects at all.

On the other hand, it's hard for me to feel connected to what's going on in the book. So much of it is focused on Ganga's work life, which is not something that I personally am that interested in (Of course it's clear that's what the book is about! I just don't think I would have picked up the book for myself). Still, it is very informative and an interesting insight into a different life.

I would sum it up with this sentence: a charming and sincere look into the life of an Indian engineer.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Using my Hindi

I am on vacation at the moment visiting my parents and other family. I was delighted to be able to visit a cousin who has moved back from India with her family. Her daughter is a year and a half old and is extremely cute.

I had met her when she was 1 month old, but it was a big difference to see her now.

She speaks both English and Hindi and so I had a great time trying out my Hindi on her. I think the level I've gotten to is about a three year old, so it was perfect! I wish I could spend more time with her.

I was pleased that I understood all her Hindi and she understood mine.

Definitely renewed and refreshed my desire to get fluent and I'm ready to put in some more intensive studying again.

Monday, August 6, 2012


It is so difficult to remain peaceful and calm, with a spirit of serenity when there is so much hatred all around us.

I suppose it should be expected in the Kali Yuga that people become stubborn and ignorant, unwilling to care about anyone beyond his immediate family (and sometimes not even that).

Day after day we hear about random murder and hate crimes.

Why is it so difficult to see the common ground of humanity between ourselves and others?

All of humanity is my family and my heart is aching for the violence we are doing to one another.

Yesterday there was a shooting at a Sikh temple in Wisconsin. It appears that perhaps the gunman thought that Sikhs were Muslims and was attempting vigilante revenge for 9/11 on random innocent people. Sikhs are not Muslims and I hate that so many Americans are too dumb to know that. But even if they were, it is not okay. Killing innocent people, no matter their religion or lack of religion, is not okay.

Why does that seem to be such a difficult concept?

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Raksha Bandhan Always Makes Me Wish I Were Home

My timing is good, actually. I'm going to be driving the eight hours to my parents' house this weekend. Each year when Raksha Bandhan comes along, I start thinking about my brother and wishing I had more contact with him.

Though I will be seeing him this weekend, I know that he'd just roll his eyes and refuse to let me if I tried to tie a string on his wrist! :)

"Raksha Bandhan is a regional celebration to celebrate the sacred relation between brothers and sisters. Primarily, this festival belongs to north and western region of India but soon the world has started celebrating this festival with the same verse and spirit. Rakhi has become an integral part of those customs."

Learn more at