As someone who has been raised in the US (but from India), that makes me an ABCD - American Born Confused Desi from India. This designation is in contrast to FOB (Fresh off the Boat) I was once married to an FOB who enlightened me on my label, with some derision, of course. We regularly engaged in some good-natured debating on who was better. I felt I was eclectic and able to choose what was best from two cultures and make it my own, a part of who I am. He thought I was just confused. Maybe so. I know that other ABCDs I've known have felt the same way, mostly confused.
As teens, we talked about our longing for India – the country and people left behind. To some extent, we felt that we were temporary visitors to the US. As a female, I felt that I left “sisters” behind – females who did not have the advantages I would by living in a country where opportunities were abundant.
Many of our parents were glad to have brought us to the country to further our lives. Yet at the same time, there was resistance to our mixing in too much with the “West.” We were to retain as much “Indianness” as possible, whatever that meant at the moment. There was much resistance, particularly with my own family, to a culture that was attractive enough to warrant moving here. I wondered at times, growing up, why we did move here if it was so terrible.
When I married the FOB, as was the plan for me, I learned that while I was busy measuring up to an Indian standard handed down to me, Indians in India were becoming more and more “American.” How ironic. I learned that my FOB spouse had in some ways already lived a more American life than I had, in India.
The country was evolving, even more rapidly recently. These days, it seems one can feel as American or Indian as one wants regardless of the country they actually live in. It’s really more a state of mind rather than actual geographic place. It’s possibly best to not even make a distinction. We’re just individuals influenced by our backgrounds at different levels.
Based in Denver, Pria Ingrum has been writing since adolescence when she won an essay contest. She was a staff writer for The Pitt News during college in the late 80's and started free-lance writing in 1998. Visit her website - http://www.priaingrum.com
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