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Monday, September 10, 2012

Maybe it's all in my head

A comment on my post of a few days ago got me thinking...

I always get confused with such posts. because it doesn't make much sense. Nor does it match what I've seen (attitude of Hindu-by-birth towards Hindu-by-choice)

I truly hope such reactions you speak of are mere exceptions.

I think I really do imagine more strife than there actually is.
I can't think of any examples of anyone questioning my validity of a Hindu to my face. There are only two things that lead to posts like this:
1) Knowing that some people say behind my back that I romanticize Hinduism. But I think the more I talk about it, the more they see that I know the good and the bad sides.
2) Stories or articles where people complain about a particular person (such as a celebrity) being into Indian culture out of nowhere. Somehow I seem to take those stories very personally and the things that people say about them, even though it is a different situation.
I am sensitive to and worry over people trying to dismiss my Hindu-ness and yet I think it's mostly just in my own defensive brain. 
It reminds me of a key moment in my childhood. I was watching Duck Soup, the Marx Brother's movie. At one point Groucho is waiting for a rival to show up to apologize for a tiff that happened between them. While he's waiting he starts to worry about the apology. "What if he refuses to shake my hand?" he says. "What if, in front of all these people, he humiliates me by not shaking my hand?" He gets himself so worked up that when the other fellow arrives and holds out his hand to shake, Groucho shouts at him, "How dare you refuse to shake my hand!" and storms out.
Watching this as a child I didn't get it. I turned to my mother and said, "That's so silly. No one would ever do that in real life."
And she said, "It happens all the time."


  1. If I take a quick swing through your Key Posts list, I find three posts where you are introducing yourself and why you consider yourself Hindu, four in a row about what other people think (First Impression, Labels, Zealous, Bindi), and then one on appropriation further down. You definitely have put a lot of thought into the issue of authenticity, of how people view you and your faith.

    Which is certainly not a bad thing! Especially when it comes to issues of racial dynamics and power imbalances. It's certainly much better than co-opting things from other cultures WITHOUT thinking about them!! (search 'bindi' on tumblr sometime and you'll see a lot of sexualization of Indian culture that borders on the creepy)

    But at the same time, you don't want to spend so much time thinking about this to the expense of other things. If it's important to you to wear a bindi to publicly proclaim your faith, wear it. If you have issues with how people will perceive it, don't wear it because you'll spend more time thinking about what people are thinking than you would on any given non-bindi day, and that's taking away from your productive time being a good Hindu and living a life of devotion to God and service to others! :)

    And regarding the Internet, I read a quote the other day (Oscar Wilde?) that said, "If you give someone a mask, they will show their true face." The internet's one hell of a mask. There are so many people out there who are hurting, insecure, or just plain mean who will go online and bash you for whatever you are, whatever life choices you make. It's good to take what people say on the internet with a grain of salt and put more stock in how you are treated in real life.

    1. Hahaha! You looked quite closely. I think more and more lately that I'm starting to move on from that.

      I think I started this blog in an atmosphere of feeling kept out and I've moved to an emotional place of mostly peace. Every once in a while it still pops up.

      But usually I remember that if people have a problem with me, it's more likely a problem they are having within themselves and I'm just a useful target.