Sunday, February 8, 2015

"How can they function with all these cultural differences?"

I remember it like it was yesterday.

At the time, I was 5 months pregnant with my daughter and we were so excited because we just found out she was going to be a girl. My inlaws came to visit us for Christmas and we went out one evening to our favorite local dosa spot. I wasn't showing yet in my pregnancy - so I just looked really fat.

During our meal, there was an Indian family at the next table who kept giving us dirty looks throughout the meal. They were dining with their daughter, who was about 5 or 6 years of age.

But I didn't care. I was pregnant. I was having A GIRL!!!

Husband-ji went up to the front to pay for our dinner, and I started to get up and get my coat on. Then I heard it. I heard what they were talking about.

The woman looked me up and down with revulsion. "How can they function....with all these cultural differences?"

She saw that I heard her and tried to look away. I hesitated as to whether I should say something, especially since there was a young girl at the table. I didn't want to embarrass the child or cause her distress. I took the high road and didn't say anything, but I was sure to give the woman a stare of death as I walked away.

But did the woman ever think about what she was saying, in front of her own daughter? Her daughter, who is just as Canadian as I am? By having this conversation in front of her daughter, what message is she giving her? A message that it's okay to pass judgement on people who are different; a message that it's not okay to step outside of your parents' culture; a message that it's okay to be nasty and discuss others when they are within earshot of your conversation?

Often times, I re-run this episode in my head. Sometimes I envision calling the woman a jerk. Sometimes I envision *accidentally* hitting her head with my over-the-shoulder purse as I walk by. Sometimes I envision her choking on an extra spicy mirchi. Sometimes I envision responding to her in fluent Telugu and telling her to F* off.

She didn't know that I myself was pregnant. She didn't know that I was growing a child inside of me that is just as Indian as the next person. She didn't know that we were together for 7 years at that point, probably longer than she was with her husband for. With her snap judgement of me, she didn't know a damn thing about me...

Sometimes I wish that lady could see me now. Yeah, I have a daughter, just like you have a daughter. And we do have cultural differences sometimes. And guess what? 

We function amazingly....



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25 comments

  1. Perhaps the woman subconsciously felt a bit threatened by a 'gori' girl marrying an Indian guy. Here in the US there is a similar phenomenon amongst some African American women when they see white woman with an Af. Am. man. But I understand why the reaction, so no sweat.
    Let it go, you all are happy and that is what matters.
    The little girl will likely not be jingoistic, most schools have multicultural children and the kids know how to get along.

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    1. Could be....before I met my husband I was actually in a relationship with an African American man in the US, during college, so I fully recognize it...
      It would be funny if one day her daughter and my daughter ended up to be friends! The world is so small like that...six degrees of separation! Ha ha!

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  2. We have had similar comments aimed at us. Perhaps next time you and I can both reply "I hope that you can learn to function with an open mind and loving heart. Your attitude is sad and outdated. My blood is as red as yours, does that mean I am human too?" - Rebecca

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    1. That is a really good one! I am writing that down! You always have the wittiest replies, Rebecca!

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    2. India is a country with a huge underclass and rampant illiteracy so the last thing any desi wants to be accused of is being uneducated. If you are in the mood for a more snippy reply you can almost always easily defeat a rude Indian with "Madam/Sir/Aunty/Uncle you look like an educated person, I did not expect this type of behavior from you." - Rebecca

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  3. This is really rude , wish I was there , would have definitely told her to f* off in fluent Telugu , as a third person this really sounds so rude to me , can imagine what you have gone through , why can't people mind their business , anyways hope you dont get to see such people more often, lots of hugs

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    1. Ha ha! I wish you were there too :D
      Luckily since we had our daughter it has been noticeably less...people are just overwhelmed with her cuteness ;)

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  4. Living in India, I had people ask me if my daughter was mine. I had one particularly nasty Aunty first trying to extract DH's Caste out of me, and when she got his last name after I pointed out I didn't know, or even care about his caste (which miffed her) she mumbled under her breath, to finally ask if my daughter was at least Indian...At least????? Really? As her not being so would have been a bad thing? When I said that yes she was Indian she then talked to her saying "You are Indian, just like me, we are the best".

    I was flabbergasted, and speechless, I wish I could go back then and tell that moron, that no, my daughter is not like her, and that if being being the best she means being a racist bitch, then she can be best at it alone.

    My daughter was 14 months old back then, so she didn't understand what this deranged Aunty meant.

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    1. UGH the caste. Just like my nosy neighborhood Aunty!!!
      OMG..."we are the best" -- cultural superiority at it's finest!!! Jesus, it sounds like Republic Day every single day for that lady! Ha ha!

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  5. People are bigoted, especially those who have grown up with certain'values' that they believe shd override human decency and therefore thrust it on others who are 'not like them.'
    The best thing you can do as your daughter grows up is teach her to be resilient and open minded, a double barelled threat to any nasties out there....kala tikka for u and ur whole family:-)

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  6. I think it was really nice of you to think twice about that lady's child so as to not cause her distress even when you were so hurt. This attitude of yours speaks volumes. :-) I'd have burst into tears if someone did that to me or maybe I'd have given her a piece of my mind.
    When people dont have basic manners and etiquette it doesn't make any sense when they're thinking that they're very conventional. Of course no religion teaches you to be rude and ill mannered so basically if you're calling yourself cultural and traditional you absolutely have to have a an elegant display of character which brings a smile on any person you interact with. Regardless of which nation or background you come from because its the character which is gonna do all the talking not the sindoor, or the cross you wear or hijab/scarf on your head.
    Z

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    1. I definitely did burst into tears in the car ride back...sigh, pregnancy hormones!
      I did not want to hurt the child since she had done nothing wrong. I wonder if she will turn out different than her parents. She was listening to them, but I couldn't get a good read on what she thought. Too young to form an opinion, I suppose.

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  7. Some people are soo rude and so naive!!!!!!! Urggh!

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    1. Just awful! I think it hurt me more that I was pregnant then too....

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  8. Ergh, what a piece of work. Well, it's not your job to teach her common sense or open-mindedness (may have caused you more stress than it's worth!) but it's a shame that it will most likely trickle down to her daughter... :(
    (Although the comment that Anonymous wrote was awesome!)

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    1. Exactly..some times I can't believe such people exist! And would it kill them to have that conversation in privacy? LOL

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  9. I'll repeat what two great philosophers have told this world.

    1. "Let is go, let it go ....."
    2. "The haters gonna hate hate hate ...."

    :)

    And to quote another wise person (band), "Carry on, carry on, carry on ..."

    ~ Krishanu

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  10. I don;t think that lady ever thought about the message she was conveying to her daughter in her enthusiasm of being judgmental. Glad you didn't lose it, some achievement that was. And that last picture is just too sweet.

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    1. Thanks...it is my newest fave pic! Too bad it was too late for a Christmas card!

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  11. It is sad that people are so judgemental even today. I wonder if the lady realizes that she will have cultural differences with her own daughter in the future. Maybe she is scared that her daughter might marry someone from a different culture and was trying to influence her mind when she is young. My husband and I get stared at sometimes, more frequently here in Ottawa than anywhere else. It is usually Indians that give him what he calls the accusing stare. While white folks don't stare, I have been stopped from entering Costco as the store clerk didn't feel I could be with a white guy and we are often asked if we want separate bills at restaurants.

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    1. Exactly....growing up my best childhood friend was an American born Punjabi girl. Her parents were from India, and expected her to behave as if she was growing up in India, and she had only been there once as an infant. She complained A LOT...as you can imagine!

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  12. Actually, that statement she made was probably directed to her daughter as much as to you! She probably wanted to make it clear to her that it was not ok to have an intercultural marriage! Unfortunately, such uneducated people are rampant in our society!

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    1. It is true...I wonder if our paths would ever cross again. Life is funny like that. I would love a chance to have a second round at this lady, now that I know how I would reply, and am older and more of a ball-breaker ;)

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