If you’re British, not Asian and know little about the culture, chances are that upon hearing that I am Indian, a few of these things will pop into your head. Bollywood, racism, The Masood family from Eastenders (who are in fact Pakistani Muslims, so not Indian), East Is East (also about Muslims of Pakistani descent), arranged marriages, Hinduism and animal gods, sitar music, Slumdog Millionaire, poverty, the Taj Mahal, elephants and vibrant colourful saris.
Now I’ve neglected my blog for so long, I’m averaging one entry per year. The reality is, I couldn’t think of a subject to write about that I haven’t already ranted about at length on twitter. I didn’t want my blog to be ranty, but evidently I failed spectacularly with my second entry. It wasn’t until quite recently, when the 574th person asked me “Indian, that’s the same as Pakistani right? So you’re Muslim then?,” that I thought it might be a good idea to take a light hearted look at some of the perceptions people have of me and my culture and see if there’s any truth in any of it.
So in this entry, I just want to introduce myself and in the following blogs, I’ll try to cover some of the topics usually associated with Brit Indians. There is absolutely no intention to offend anyone. I’m equally ignorant of other cultures as people are of mine and in a lot of cases, their perceptions are more accurate than you would think. I’d much rather someone asked a seemingly obvious question than made assumptions.
So here I am, a 34 year old woman (though I always want to say girl, I’m in no way a grown up in any sense) and I’m not actually from India. Yes, I am a fraud! I was born in a small town called Kisumu in Kenya. My parents chose to up sticks and move to Britain in 1985 when I was just 6 years old and my only visit to India was at the age of 4, of which I remember very little. With a background like that, it’s really no wonder I’m perpetually confused.
When I say I’m Indian, I’m referring, of course, to my ethnicity. Even my parents aren’t from India (also frauds), though they both spent time there when they were much younger. I did however, grow up watching Indian films, reading Indian gossip magazines, going to colourful Indian weddings, listening to beautiful Indian music, hearing endless stories about India from my mum, eating delicious home cooked Gujarati food. Add to this my huge extended family and I think I’ve picked up a few things along the way. I speak 3 languages. My mother tongue is Gujarati and I learned to speak Hindi from watching Hindi films. And of course there’s English, the one I’m most comfortable with.
Now the downside. I can’t, for the life of me, put on a sari properly. But much MUCH worse, to my mother’s shame, I’m not married (to a doctor/lawyer/accountant/anyone) and I don’t intend to have children. I have opinions….that I voice…quite loudly….frequently…even though I’m just a woman, THE CHEEK OF ME. As you can imagine, all these things have made me very popular with my huge extended family (lie). But would I want to be any other way? You bet I would! Life would be a damn sight easier but alas, I have a big mouth and I love the gays. There’s no saving me. I am a lost cause. BRING ON THE SHACKLES.
So if you see me on twitter, lounging around doing sod all, feel free to give me a kick up the backside (not literally, I’m not into that kind of thing) to get on with writing this blog and try to up my average to at least 2 or 3 entries per year.