Thursday, November 13, 2008

The Desi Social

Having a few ABCDs in my family and close friend circle, I try to stay away from the all-desi social scene in the US , the ecosystem that helps perpetrate the dread bane of ABCDness in the first place. I am committed to doing what little I can to allow J a chance to learn and care about India without feeling the need to give up whatever it means to be born and raised in the West. Reading this article on what goes on at the average desi party, was quite an eye-opener.

Several desi parents I know in America, have raised their kids in a recreated world that replicates their Indian experience from the time they last lived there - doing much disservice to the children in the process. By providing the kids an artificial comfort zone created by several other families just like theirs in a foreign culture and country, they make it extremely difficult for them assimilate with the mainstream - to a large extent they don't even find this necessary to do.

Between their trips to the temple, language classes, festival and social celebrations all year long, they get all their social needs more than adequately met by their legions of desi friends. Having no reason to reach out to kids from other cultures, they naturally gravitate towards the desi kids in school and college as well. Many desi parents find this situation very comforting and actually encourage it. The desi parties are a natural byproduct of this upbringing and a manifestation of everything that is wrong about it.

A few token non-desis invitees notwithstanding, this is where desi kids can act out the "other" culture that they have followed curiously as outsiders but never as full participants. It is here where they would not feel stupid about mimicking what they vaguely know and understand - the tendency to go overboard is only to be expected. In many ways, the more negative stereotypes about Western culture that their parents held given their unfamiliarity with it, get passed down to the children who are not any more familiar with it despite having significantly greater opportunities to gain acquaintance.

While their vantage point may be a lot better than that of their parents, it does not qualify as real assimilation. As Reena Patel points out in her article, the ABCD culture is not quite living up to the potential it holds - instead of becoming a vigorous hybrid of two starkly different cultures, it is degenerating into the worst elements of both.

1 comment:

ggop said...

These parties remind me why clubbing of any sorts is so unappealing to me :-)

Thanks HC!