Sunday, July 08, 2012

Tiny Island

Standing in line waiting my turn can be a very calming experience if I am not racing the clock. Such was the case this past 4th of July when we stood in line for a ride on the hot air balloon and at local park. Children were devising impromptu games everywhere along the serpentine queue. Adults milled around the crowd, chatting with friends and neighbors who were also there waiting. I took my time to people watch -  a great way to kill time when electronic devices cannot distract. The half a dozen desi families were easy to spot in this largely homogenous crowd. Most had very young children and some had visiting family from India.  They either kept to themselves or interacted with the other desi family they had come with. I am by now used to the fact that desis avoid making eye contact with another desi they have not met before. Family from India is another matter - they will happily strike up a conversation with any desi unless they are steered away from doing so. 
We seem to like living on our island with the few just like ourselves for company. I noticed that there were two young desi couples who seemed to inhabit an inland ever tinier and more isolated  (if that is even possible). It did not take too long to figure that they were 2nd generation desis. They seemed to be navigating this invisible chasm that separated them from desis like myself (and those families from back home) and the local population they grew up with. By marrying desis just like themselves they had made their allegiance known - assimilation only went so far. I would imagine having a non-desi spouse may make them part of a larger social group. They had in a sense carved out a small part of the desi island - there was no room there for anyone who had not shared their exact life experience. It was sad to watch them navigate their strollers, be the American part of themselves from within their tiny island existence. I am sure this happens across the immigrant diaspora with the 2nd generation but my vantage point is limited to the desis.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I do not agree with your statement that assimilation went so far statement. I did date quite a non-Asian Americans but found that there I could find a better spouse in terms of education, looks and compatibility if I dated Indian women.