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JR
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exclamation VERY confused!
« Thread started on: Jul 31st, 2004, 10:07am »

Greetings to all on this forum. I think this is a great way to express ideas that would not be stated otherwise.

My story is kind of an unusual one. I was born to a white American man, who we will call JB, and a Sri Lankan Tamil lady, who we will call IR. IR had lived in Brunei since a very early age because of the conflict in Lanka. Her parents decided to relocate to a Western country but did not have the financial resources to do so. IR met JB through a penpal, and he went to Brunei to marry her. He then brought her to the U.S. where eventually I was born. Unfortunately, she treated him badly. Somehow, she seemed to fit in well with the Western culture (even her English was perfect, though at home in Brunei she spoke Tamil and otherwise spoke Malay). She became quite "Americanized" and was dating other guys, despite her upbringing, in which her parents were devout Christians.

JB's parents knew of the trouble early on, though JB was kind of in denial of it. They obtained joint custody of me and I spent the vast majority of the time at their house. My parents did divorce when I was 4 or 5, and I continued to be raised by my paternal grandparents. When I was 7, after a long court struggle, my grandparents gained full custody of me, and raised me to be the "wonderful" (haha, right) person I am today.

My grandparents are now doing well, and I am a college student. When I graduate I plan to go to medical school.

(finally, to my point...)

Though grateful for my successes, I am rather confused about my identity. I have encountered racism, but overall I am very happy and proud to be who I am...but who am I? I knew no more of Asian culture than other Americans until I got to know some Indian students in college. But when talking to Indians, I feel so horribly and irrevocably Westernized. When talking to whites, I notice their skin, and I know they see me differently. I feel shy to ask people about Asian culture, because I don't like to show how much I don't know.

But I am taking steps to change that. My boyfriend is from Tamil Nadu, and he is here working on his Master's degree. He is also teaching me spoken Tamil. But even little things make me feel so out of touch with my background. Like my inability to pronounce the "r", my lack of knowledge about South Asian food, and my incomprehension about meditation are all things that try to drive me back into Western mode.

I know I know...I can practice my "r", experience Asian food, and read about Kundalini yoga. But somehow it's not the same. There's a great difference between learning/practicing something and understanding/doing those things automatically, without needing an accompanying lesson.

I've been told, "You are not an Indian/Sri Lankan." That very well may be true, but still I have a connection, and I want to establish and nurture that. Does anyone have any suggestions on how I can do that in a way that is comfortable to me?

I know this is long but I had a tale to tell.

Take care

Love,
Julie
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xx VERY confused!
« Reply #1 on: Jul 31st, 2004, 10:28pm »

Dea Julie,

That is an interesting question. I guess from outside you seem to be Asian while the role model in your life and up bringing is more caucasian. So, instead of being a white or Desi you are Unique!

Now, you have to figure out what culture you feel more comfortable with if you are going to chose one. Seems to me that fact that you have a Tamil boy friend born in India you might be leaning toward Indian identity. If that is the case do not feel shy or out of place when you go to indian event, but go frequently and ask questions.

You say, "But when talking to Indians, I feel so horribly and irrevocably Westernized. When talking to whites, I notice their skin, and I know they see me differently. I feel shy to ask people about Asian culture, because I don't like to show how much I don't know." What do u mean by horrible Westernized?

Indian culture is not about knowing Asian cuisine, pronouncing "R" or knowing Kundalini yoga. It is more an eastern culture with emphasis on family, education and respect for elders. You do not have to chose one over the other but may be take the best of both the worlds.

Good luck.

« Last Edit: Jul 31st, 2004, 10:34pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx Re: VERY confused!
« Reply #2 on: Jul 31st, 2004, 11:39pm »

Hi,

This is Julie again. I registered so I won't have that "guest" thing there any more.

What I meant by horribly Westernized, not that Western people or culture is horrible. I fully realize the many merits of the Western way of life. What I meant was that--my Western attitude and ways--I wish I could temporarily delete that while experiencing other cultures so I wouldn't feel out of place, then restore it the rest of the time, when I'm experiencing mainstream America.

I suppose very few people who can do that. I know of one. My friend who we shall name RP can do that. Her parents immigrated to the U.S. from India when RP was a seven year old. She's about the only one I know who is completely cool with both cultures. Hopefully, my boyfriend will become that way as well, but that is still yet to be seen. I expect it will happen eventually (at least to some extent).

Family, education, and elders...I definitely respect my elders and value education. I try to keep up with what's going on in my family as well. I care for my family very much, though it seems we all have very different lives. (My aunt is a nurse, my dad is a computer programmer 300 miles away, my cousin is currently in a camp sponsored by the national guard, my dad's cousin is a writer who operates from her home, etc.) But that's okay. I'm on good terms with everyone.

Thank you for the thoughtful reply. I like my "uniqueness" and I will do what I can to take the best from both worlds. I believe things happen for a reason, so I'm not going to ditch anything I've been given. I now believe I can learn about and enjoy both cultures. Again, thank you.

Take care

Julie
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xx Re: VERY confused!
« Reply #3 on: Aug 1st, 2004, 10:33pm »

Julie ure a desi girl wit a lil twist...thats a good thing...u deserve all the respect that desi girls get and if any1 says different forget them...their not important because their ignorant and their ignorance is gonna get them in trouble one day...see i'm indian but i look black....people always think that i'm black and i get looked at weird at desi partiez...but thats not ure actual problem so thats besides da subject...but listen if u proud of who u r and ure workin to learn ure culture...let me tell u one thing its better late then never to learn it...so good luck on learnin everything and hopefully people will get less ignorant take care peace yo 1

« Last Edit: Aug 1st, 2004, 10:47pm by Vijay Mehta » User IP Logged

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xx Re: VERY confused!
« Reply #4 on: Aug 4th, 2004, 6:29pm »

Thanks Sunny. Yes, definitely better late than never.

I think my situation will become more common as time goes on. America is getting more and more racially mixed, there's no doubt about that.
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