My (Biggest) Struggle of being an Indian Girl

If you’ve kept up with Jointly at all in the past almost two years (ahh!), you probably know by now that one of my favorite things to write, discuss, and vent about is being Indian. In most cases I like to joke (but never exaggerate) about what it’s like to be an Indian girl, but today I want to be totally honest and share with all of you, my biggest struggle as an Indian girl.

I’ve always known my biggest pain point with my ethnicity, but the full extent of it didn’t really hit me until I finished Mindy Kaling’s latest book, Why Not Me. The number one reason I struggle with being Indian is because Indian culture prohibits me from being 100% real with all of you. I always think about my goals as a writer and how I can further refine my voice and skill only to realize that I can’t really, because I’m Indian.

Now, before going any further, I would like to caveat that this post is based solely on my personal experience and feelings. Additionally, I would like to make it undeniably clear that I love being Indian and could not imagine my life in any other way. Okay? Okay, moving on…

I feel that, as an Indian woman, I have a certain image to maintain. I should conduct my life with the perfect amount of grace, respect and reservation. I should share little and keep my personal life, especially the portion of it grandparents may frown upon, personal. And to a certain extent, I totally agree with this. I am all for grace and you probably can’t find a girl who loves and respects people (who deserve it), more than I do. But not sharing…I’m sure you can see how that would hold me back as a writer.

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                          Indian girls should be all shy and shit

As I got deeper and deeper into Mindy’s stories, I couldn’t help but go a little bug-eyed as I read about her love life, how she enjoys filming sex scenes and her excessive drinking (and McDonald’s eating). I was shocked but inspired and could feel my already present admiration for her grow as I flipped each page. She is real, I thought. I want to be real too.

And I try to be. I really do. I’m sure you can tell from some of my writing. But there are certain personal topics I avoid completely, as I know my audience. But I’m getting to the point where I’m old enough to not care what other people think. I’ve been raised well and I know right from wrong and appropriate from inappropriate. I mean…it’s not like I want to be a lingerie model. Just a good writer. If you want to be a lingerie model (which I would also totally support, to each their own), and this post inspires you to do so, please do not tell your strict Indian parents that I gave you the idea. If you need someone to blame, blame Mindy.

Love,

K

P.S. For all Indians reading this and preparing to judge me for the unfiltered stories I am to tell in the future, just know – I heard young adults in India are way worse.

The (Unexaggerated) Struggles of an Indian Girl Pt III

As you all know, A and I are two Indian girls, born and raised in good ol’ Cleveland, Ohio. Last year I started a series titled “The Unexaggerated Struggles of Being an Indian Girl”, and today I’m ready to share with you, part III of the series.

I know you’ve all been waiting for it, so let’s get this started.

1. Indian people are becoming so trendy

Maybe some other Indian people enjoy watching their people succeed. I, on the other hand, get pretty salty. I have this very distorted perception of myself and can’t help but feel that if any Indian-American deserves to be famous it should be me.

Whoops…

2. When your headphones fall out

So there I am, sitting at my desk, diligently working. To anyone who sees me, I look just like any other employee at an ad agency. I’m jammin’ HARD. Probably head-shaking, definitely foot-shaking and creating killer dance moves in my head. And then…one of my ear buds falls out and I’m struck by the silence of the work place and the horror of the fact that I was pretty much doing the Indian head shake at my desk.

Wait whhhat? So I’m not in a Bollywood movie? And we all really are just working? Oh…okay…cool…

3. Competing on who can cook better

I can’t help but to feel a jealous pang every time one of my friends tells me that they learned how to cook an Indian dish. I still need to call my parents to figure out how to make chai. Take your butter-chicken to your future mother-in-law’s house, I don’t want none of that, showoff.

4. Huge ass Indian weddings

A can attest to this even more than I can. But let me tell you a little something about being Indian. Every person you’ve ever said a word to, actually wait…every person your parents…no…grandparents have ever said a word to, will expect an invitation to your wedding. The number of people that came up to me at A’s wedding and said “Congrats! Where’s the lucky guy?!” Are you serious? You are here and you don’t even know who the bride and groom are…? Just…just leave. No nice words for you.

5. Oh, you left your coat on the chair while your mom was cooking? LOL sucks.

I know if you’re Indian you’ve for sure made this mistake. Your mom was making masala and your coat was hanging on a bar stool in the kitchen. Well kiddo, you’re going to smell like that for at least two weeks. Don’t even try to take a jacket to India House. The place stank up my handbag.

6. What’s up with their vocal chords anyways?

You always want to sing along to the latest songs but wait…Indian female vocalists put to so in soprano. Seriously, I grew up always having to sing the male parts of every popular song because I couldn’t hit Asha’s high notes. Thanks for the gender-confusion early on, Bollywood.

7. You said four words to a guy once

If you’ve said more than four words to a guy, you’re probably dating. If you took a photo with him, you’re probably in the process of planning your wedding and may even have a name or two picked out for your kids.

I’ve had quite a few close guy friends in my life, and you bet there have always been assumptions that we’re dating or are oblivious to the fact that we’re madly in love. This is not an Anjali-Rahul situation guys. Stop trying to make it happen.

Well. That’s it for this time. More to come as we continue to live our crazy Indian lives. Below is probably the best Indian/Bollywood GIF I’ve ever seen. Me every Friday to be totally honest (jk Aunty community).

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Love,

K

Bollywood vs. Reality

So, as most of you know (or should know by this point), I am a little bit of a Bollywood* junkie. So much so that a few days ago one of my friends informed me that one of India’s largest film production company’s was searching for a fresh new face and my stomach doubled over with excitement. This is my break. Naturally, my dad shot the idea down so fast and went on that whole “have you seen the filth in those movies”. I’m assuming by “filth” he means that on-screen kisses are now common in Hindi films.

Regardless, in effort to make myself feel a tad bit better about my now dead dreams, I have decided to write this post.

The differences between Bollywood and real life.

Time

The concept of time is highly skewed in all Hindi films. You’re probably thinking, yeah K, obviously, it’s a story condensed into a measly three hours (joke because three hours is NOT measly. Honestly, try telling that to the six year old being forced to sit through Jodhaa Akbar). Yeah, I get that but that’s not what I mean. In Hindi movies characters fall in love at first sight. No not like a general intrigue or a damn, that girl is on fire…actual “Hello madam, I love you” love. And this “love” usually ends up lasting a lifetime. HA. Okay. School days last for the duration of one four minute song, and going from post-shower, wet hair, to hair extensions in and perfectly blowing in the “natural wind” takes a solid one and a half minutes. So it’s no wonder why the typical nine to five seems like a total drag and that my bicep hurts after twenty minutes with a blow dryer.

Song and dance

One of the most disappointing things about growing up on Bollywood is realizing that real people don’t sing and dance. Like excuse me, but I was brought up to believe that when I had my first crush we would spend days and days together running through fields in different outfits expressing our inability to sleep (oh because it is common in Bollywood for characters to become insomniacs when they’re in love) to one another. Instead? Instead I had to sit at the dining room table doing my Kumon (by doing I mean opening the answer booklet and copying down the answers…I mean really…why would you ever trust a kid with an answer booklet?) and wondering if my crush would still be on AIM when I was done. Most days he wasn’t.

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No two guys have done this for me. Ever.

Boys and Love

There is just too much to say, I may have to break this down even further.

1. Daydreams

In Hindi movies both guys and girls only have one category of idle thinking…love. In reality, while I am over here daydreaming about   love, the guy I’m thinking about is daydreaming about motorcycles, brewing beer, and awesome facial hair. AREYOUSERIOUS?

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Day dreamin’ like whattt

2. The romantic late night scene

You know that scene that Shakespeare invented? The classic girl on the balcony, guy in the garden scene? Yeah, Bollywood stole that shit and reinvented it at least 200 times. So naturally here I am expecting that…or at least a nice goodnight phone call (talk about low maintenance right?). Instead? On a good day maybe us ladies will receive a “Goin to bed, night”. Oh really? Because Ram snuck into Leela’s bedroom to share forbidden pillow talk and you say “goin to bed”? You don’t even care enough to add the last G? What the…

3. In reality boys are a lot shorter, probably because they can’t get away with wearing man high-heels.

4. Courting

In Bollywood the male lead will pretty much harass and stalk the girl until she’s like “okay, yay, I love you too!”. So imagine the surprise of Indian girls all over when their first crush confesses his love for her, she plays hard to get, and then the next day he’s dating some other sixth grader who’s already had braces. Yo, you’re supposed to court me for at least 2 months. And by court I mean get a group of guys and trail behind me singing songs until I give in.

5. Protectiveness

Raj from DDLJ got his ass handed to him by a bunch of random Punjabi men at a train station when he refused to leave town without the love of his life, Simran. And you are just going to let that random drunk guy hit on me? Not only are you going to let it happen, you’re just going to laugh and walk to the bar and get a drink? YES I can take care of myself but chivalry was never meant to die.

Trains

As you can tell from the above story in #5, trains are sort of a big deal in Bollywood. Raj and Simran. Aditya and Geet. Kabir and Naina. As a Chicagoan, I take the L like…multiple times a day. And I have been doing so for the past four years. And the only remotely romantic thing that has happened to me on the train is when R and I caught a glimpse of each other as the doors were closing. R ended up on a different car than I did, so at the next stop with both ran to one another and met on the car in between and hugged in victory. R is one of my best friends…and a girl. Other than that it’s very much just creepy people saying creepy things to you or to themselves which is even creepier.

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The favorite Bollywood couple, Raj and Simran

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2013’s modern day train scene

In a strange twist of fate, this post has not made me feel any better about my dead Bollywood dreams. In fact, it has somehow made me love Bollywood even more. I guess I am that brainwashed by Indian cinema. Sigh.

Lamely yours,

K

* Bollywood is India’s film industry. It happens to be the largest film industry in the world, bringing in about…well I don’t know because my Internet is being really slow. But it brings in a lot of money and Bollywood actors and actresses are essentially royalty. Each film is roughly between 2.5-4 hours long and almost every movie has a few songs sprinkled into the storyline. It is easily the best past time ever.

The (Unexaggerated) Struggles of an Indian Girl

Hey there!

Hope you guys are having an amazing start to the week! I’m feeling rather chipper despite my lack of sleep, my scattered mind (let’s not talk about how many assignments I almost didn’t have completed today), and my body aches from sleeping with too many pillows.

So I thought I’d do a little something fun for you guys today. If you follow my personal blog, you may remember me sharing a tid bit of my life in a post titled, The (Unexaggerated) Struggles of an Indian Girl  (I’ve linked to it here in case you missed out). But, let me tell ya. As an Indian girl, the struggles are too real and endless. So, I’ve decided to create a Part II, to allow you guys to better understand A and I and the struggle bus that we often ride as being Indian girls.

So, here we go.

1. The creepy Facebook messages

As an Indian girl, you have to expect and know how to deal with strangely worded and “flirtatious” Facebook messages from Indian men. My personal favorites have included, “Hi, I like your friendship” and another one where Rajanth told me I’m beautiful enough to be a Bollywood actress. Well, thanks Rajanth, how did you know that was my life long dream (but really though).

2. Raisins

Okay, I don’t like raisins. Like what are these weird, tiny, shriveled up things? And for some reason, Indian people love to put raisins in everything. I don’t want raisins in my halwa and kheer (Indian desserts that you should definitely try if you haven’t), it ruins it! And most of all…I don’t want raisins in my rice! What ever possessed someone to try to put raisins in rice…I don’t know. But raisins are only edible when they are coated in chocolate.

3. The many cultures and languages of India

One would think that being a part of a country means a sense of unity and community among states. Well, not in India. In fact, we all make fun of people from other states. Don’t even get me started of the Punjabi and Gujarati feud. And the languages. According to The Hindustan Times (yes, I researched for you), there are 780 different languages spoken in India. Seven hundred and eighty. Like…why? This takes away some of the fun of being from a foreign country because half the time when my friends and I are trying to talk about the girl getting down in the club, we can’t even communicate. I say something in Hindi, I get a response in Gujrati. Like…girl…what. Are. You. Saying.

4. The stare down

If you’re Indian, you know all too well that every single brown person you see will stare you down. This isn’t even a friendly, oh, we’re all brothers and sisters stare. This is a do I know you stare. And if the answer is no, then it becomes a who the eff are you and why don’t I know you? stare. Because Indians just assume that they know every other Indian and if they don’t then something is wrong with you (the person they don’t know). Or…hmm…maybe guys, you just don’t know them because there are over 2 million of us in this country. Stop staring at me.

5. All up in your love life

My god, where do I even begin? As an Indian, your love life is everyone’s business. Your friends, everyone at your school, everyone that anyone at your school knows, and, of course, your family. I think people know the updates on my love life before I even do. My absolute favorite instance of this is my Dadi (who I love very much but our conversations always make the best stories). Every time I see my dadi, she “whispers” to me, “Acha, koi boyfriend hai?” (translation: “So, is there any boyfriend?”) Whisper is in quotation marks because she does not whisper. So unless I want the entire party to know about my love life…no Dadi, koi boyfriend nahi hai (translation: no Dadi, there is no boyfriend). I then see a little flicker of panic in her eyes, but then she kindly reassures me that it’s okay to focus on my studies. She then proceeds to hold me hostage and ask me questions about my cousin’s love lives. Whoops, sorry S & M.

Speaking of Dadis, let me share another great story with you. Dadi’s oldest sister (who is the cutest old lady ever) didn’t even bother asking me “koi boyfriend hai”, when I was in India this past December. Instead, during our family photo shoot, she sneakily tried to get everyone to take solo photos of just me to send to the handsome Punjabi man from Amritsar who is now a doctor in London. Wait. Let me fix my hair and reapply my eyeliner because…YES! Please send the good-looking doctor in London my photographs. S Daddy was NOT pleased and did not let this happen. But hey, I’m open to all possibilities.

6. Indian clothes for women

Okay, last time I focused my frustrations on just saris (the 9 yards of fabric we, as Indian women, are supposed to be born knowing how to tie around ourselves). But really, the picture is much bigger than this. With A’s wedding right around the corner, I’m starting to panic about the tiny blouses I’ll be having to wear. Honestly WHO can look good in those aside from actresses who make a CAREER out of looking good. I simply cannot axe wine, Chipotle, or Firecakes out of my diet. I’ve tried and I’ve failed. But I’m expected to look like this….

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Annnnd…cue the stress eating.

To my Indian ladies, props for staying sane through all of this.

Lots of love,

K