[I wrote this like forever ago. Specifically, in January. I kind of forgot about it, but I realize it all still applies. So yeah.]
The other day in Pre-calculus, Priya had some Indian food for lunch, which spawned this discussion between Priya, Andrew, and me about the quality of being Indian, or Indian-ness.
Apparently, I have little of this “Indian-ness”. I speak the language fluently (also, I can read and write semi-fluently), wear the clothing on occasion, go to India fairly frequently (it works out to once every three years), know a lot of Hindu mythology (though I am an atheist), eat the food (not that I enjoy a lot of it), end up participating in local cultural events (Independence Day, Republic Day, Diwali, Holi, assorted pujas), watch and listen to (and occasionally enjoy) Bollywood movies and songs, and even look the part. However, I apparently do not possess the “Indian spirit”.
I don’t get it. I mean, sure, I can be a bit critical of India sometimes. I can despise their stupid movies, but I do this to American ones too (maybe to a lesser extent, though). I don’t believe in the religion. But I really love India. I love Gujarati. I love having this culture in which the first question you ask someone Indian is “Which state are you from?” and the second is “What do your parents do?”. Yes, I’m not “as Indian” as my parents, but they’re immigrants and I was born here. Of course I am going to adopt many aspects of American culture in my life.
I just want to put it out there, though: I am Indian! I may not live there, but India really means something to me. And here is a secret: I tell people that I do not care if they criticize Indians (“There are a billion of us out there. Why should I care?”), especially tech support, but I really do. Every time someone says something against an Indian, I feel as if I have personally been targeted. I don’t feel the same way about Americans being criticized. Hell, most of the time, they probably deserve the stereotypes. Does this constitute the “Indian spirit”? Am I Indian enough? I think I am.