Disclaimer: This is my own experience of my culture. I have chosen to share it. I understand that other Asians, Indians and Westerners might have had drastically different experiences and disagree with my views. However, this is what I and other Indians in my personal life have experienced. For any constructive feedback, do feel free to comment or email me.
A NRI: A Non-Resident Indian.
An Indian who does not live in India.
Being an NRI: let's face it: I'm a minority. I've been a minority in every place I've lived. The States, Singapore, Japan, Australia etc. You name the place: I've been a minority in it. Just don't name India, lol.
As these places are largely westernized, I grew up to be pretty westernized myself.
But now that I'm aware of the 'white-washing' I've been exposed to, why do I still choose to subscribe to it? Don't I realise that its evil? Don't I see the ugly head of capitalism? Trying to dominate it's power on me? DON'T I CARE ABOUT MY ROOTS?
Yes, I do care about my roots. There are some parts of the Indian culture I prefer to Western culture such as food, fashion and architecture.
But there are also some parts of Western society that I prefer to Indian/Asian society. Read on to find out why I partially subscribe to Western culture:
1. Variety of affection in families
Indian/Asian families have a different way of showing love from Western families. If you've heard of the 5 love languages, I would say Indian/Asian families tend to show love with 'acts of service'. From asking 'have you eaten yet?!" about 15 000 times a day to relentlesly working to earn for our education: Indian/Asian parents work to show their love.
And I'm very thankful for the work my parents have done. I wouldn't be the empowered, educated female I am without it.
But this is something that I've had to grow older to appreciate.
Sometimes maturity comes with experience. Sometimes it comes with age. Since it is true that certain cognitive abilities only develop as you grow older, I believe it was much easier for me to appreciate my parents' acts of service with age.
But as a child, I did not understand it at all. I did not understand that someone yelling at me to eat more was an act of love. I did not understand that working at an office instead of being next to me was an act of love. Children are more simple. They take things at face value. They need to be shown all 5 love languages to ensure the feeling of safety and stability, especially in early parts of life.
And in my personal experience, that is what Western culture offers.
When I was a young girl in the United States, I often found myself observing the relationships my Caucasian peers had with their parents. I would hear about them consistently spending quality time together, exchanging verbal affirmations like 'I love you', see them be hugged or kissed when dropped off at school and shown the gifts their families would exchange on Christmas out of love, not religion (controversial, I know).
Loving a child in all 5 languages helps them feel secure. It does not pamper them or spoil them if done right. Due to experiencing only 1 love language as a child, I've grown to be rather insecure as an adult.
And I'm not lying when I say almost every other Indian friend I have has experienced something similar or nearly identical.
2. Openness about dating life
Now, I understand that each family is different. But generally I feel that Western and even some Asian cultures are more open about dating than Indians. Certain parts of India are more liberal while others are conservative. And you know which part I'm from? The conservative one! And surprise! I'm not.
Dating and whatnot usually results in slut-shaming where I'm from. Having a partner is always viewed as a distraction. People think it supposedly prevents you from reaching your potential. When in fact, having an encouraging partner can motivate you to achieve your full potential.
I find that other cultures tend to understand this more than Indian culture.
3. Representation of Women in Media
Women all over the world are definitely exposed to 'hyper-sexualization' in media. But in Bollywood, I feel like it goes too far.
I am sick and tired of seeing women always having to do skanky, sexual dances on Bollywood screens. I especially do not like it because India already suffers from an extreme lack of feminism. From cases of rape happening often to female infanticide, we do not need to fuel the stereotype that sexuality is all that women are good for.
Young boys in India grow up with that image of women and it leads to them thinking that's all we're good for.
Newsflash? We're not.
Yes, sexuality is a part of Womanhood and we should be proud of it. But that's not the primary basis of our existence. And Bollywood needs to stop giving women only the roles of the l'ove interest' or the 'item girl'.
On the brighter side, we are making some progress with new films like Dangall and more progressive filmmakers such as Aamir Khan. And I'm looking forward to the further progress we're going to make.
4. Lack of discrimination of mental health
From my experience, many Indians/Asian don't understand mental health. From "Just be happy, go outside" to "It's all in your head" to "Are you just seeking attention?": the amount of condescending and ignorant comments are endless.
My experience with mental health in Australia has been widely different from Asia. Not only do friends check on me but so do tutors, lecturers, college heads, and dorm advisers. Healthcare plans include mental health concerns and there are several posters around my school promoting well-being.
There is nothing more priceless someone being supportive when you feel mentally helpless.
I hope slowly Indian and Asian culture will grow to be more knowledgeable and understand mental health as well as other countries.
So yes, that's it. I would enjoy hearing if you related to this, so don't be afraid to reach out. Till next time,