Monday, September 24, 2012

Pardesi's Can Never Be Desi

I read, keep up with and remember a lot of blogs/bloggers. The words of others, especially those who don't live in a rainbow land where everything sparkles, inspire me... and help me find my way through this journey I'm on.

I was going over some of my favorite posts and wondering around the blogs and I found a very inspirational quote that has meaning in my life right now.

"I'm taking India day by day which to any foreigner should be full of ups and downs. If it's not, (as far as other India blogger's go) then they're lying to themselves and you."

That post came from this post, a woman known only as MDG. While she's not as active blogging about life in India or intercultural relationships, she still spins off a few good blog posts here and there. Anyway, there's quite a few good comments on this post as well. Reading them makes it quite clear just how right that quote is. Several of the comments came from fellow pardesi bloggers.

Interesting how their stories change over time and some of them become condescending of others who face challenges here. I can imagine that quote was written for just such back-biters and fake people. The very next line of the quote was "So please those of you (you know who you are) get off my back and calm down."

It's a shame how some people can't handle other peoples opinions, especially when they had the same opinions themselves at one or more times in the past. I'm not referring to MDG. What I find more interesting is these same fake people can't keep their lies straight or their mouth shut for long. As soon as the rainbow disappears from their magical sky and the clouds come, they turn into villains of the night. All the while thinking they are justified in persecuting others for thinking the same things as they once thought.

I don't have those delusions. I know unicorns don't exist and they don't fart rainbows, etc. etc. etc. I try to remain positive and be supportive with others most of the time while providing them with realistic information. I have disagreements with them but it's not taken personally. I can respect other's opinions, enthusiasm and complaints. This is not true with a few people in the pardesi community. While a few are like me and can be respectful, some of them make it a point to attack others quite aggressively and try to shove their own opinions down their throat.

Everything I post here is 100% my thoughts. I don't sugar coat anything. If something is bad, I call it bad. If something makes me emotional, I share it with you. I don't need to lie to try to boost my status because I am me and that's all  I ever need or want to be. And this applies to both the US and India and can be evidenced by even my earliest blog posts.

I'm not into gold or jewels. I'm a truly simple woman. I make no apologies for who I am, the mistakes I make in my own life or for other people. We are each responsible for our own problems, destiny and lives. Your perceived status is non-existant and you can't piggy back off of your husbands family. That's their money, not yours. That's their caste, not yours. That's their history, not yours. Try to remember you are your own person and no one else is like you nor do they want or need to be you. Your reality is not always their reality. Be respectful of others because you never know when you might need them in the future and they won't be there because you were a jerk.


  1. I don't actually know what pardesi is.

    I don't know why people try to go holier than thou on a personal blog I mean really -.-" its pathetic.

  2. There is absolutely no point in trying to become Indian when you live in India, not going to work. And there is no shame in being a foreigner in India either. Indians don;t all hate foreigners, there are some that try to rip you off regardless, and some that will call your cultural heritage corrupt, disgraceful, incompatible with Indian values, these are the chest thumping chauvinistics you find in every nations across the world, they are norrow minded and indiotic, for 1 of these idiots you have 10 that care enough about your culture to learn where you come from and are ready to share their own heritage and traditions with you.
    As a pardesi in the desi community, just keep in mind your heritage is as colourful and beautiful as theirs and that you should be proud of that, both cultures have their share of nasties and flaws nobody should be proud of.
    And I find it downright ridiculous when a person married to a desi just suddenl see it as an excuse to go all desi themselves, and lecture all those who don't adhere to their own vision of desi perfection, just because their partner is Indian doesn't give them the right to be condescending to both other pardesi wives and even Indians for not being as traditionnal and "pure" as them. As if an Indian woman not wearing an ultra conservative salwaar suit with all the jewellry and sindoor a wife should wear is sad and reasont o brag about when the firangi wife think she is doing it better than them...ugh!

  3. Well I guess I have the benefit of being from the land of pretention- "CALIFORNIA".
    Yes, all that 'Hollywood glamour' is mostly smoke & mirrors, plastic surgery paid for with plastic cards, and the crass consumerist notions like 'you are what you drive' are the rule.
    So I suppose all the 'pardesi' pretentiousness I've seen in India doesn't really surprise me.
    What does surprise me is how many of these pardesi women will defend or deny the existence of some of the most horrid aspects of Indian culture and Indian family life. Usually they get over this in the first 2 yrs of marriage, but sometimes they never do.
    As Cyn said trying to become an Indian is useless & futile. Indians try rip my Indian husband off as much as my white American self.
    I don't even participate in most of the pardesi communities because I find I have nothing in common with them. I'm not interested in their idea of 'desi perfection' nor do I enjoy hearing the lies they can't keep straight (as you so aptly wrote).

  4. One of the things that has surprised and encouraged me when reading blogs such as yours and others in the desilink ring, etc. is that everyone's experiences with acculturation are so different one from another. Some people are in a situation in life that allows them to thrive better in India than they would in their home country; some people just barely get by, and some people simply cannot live in India, due to a number of factors, many of which may very well be out of their control. None of this is anything that anyone should judge someone for. It's an apples and oranges situation anyhow; someone living with just husband and kids in an Indian metro, who has supportive and progressive in-laws, is in a very different situation than someone who lives in a joint family and is expected to follow local customs of "women never leave the home." I can't even imagine a modern Indian woman being happy in that situation either!

    And I am *completely* unsurprised to see people putting forth "rainbows and unicorns" depictions of their life abroad. What's on the internet is on the internet forever. Not everyone blogs anonymously (I don't!) and I certainly don't want employers or in-laws or people who wish me ill to find anything I write and try to use it against me. Personal branding on the internet is definitely a thing, and anything I read, I take with a grain of salt; it is exactly what someone else wants the public to hear. I know that rainbows and unicorns, or conversely, trolls and thunder showers, are not the whole of the story. I don't see it as lying as much as omitting information. And if those same people come around and judge me or anyone else for not "having it as great" as they do, it reflects worse on them than it does on the person they're judging.

  5. Isn't MDG the indian love blogger? I guess she slowed down on blogging because they broke up and she is doing really interesting stuff. I guess thats the problem with having a blog about your relationship,when it ends there just seems no point in continuing the specific blog. Its a shame,she really had good content and an interesting writing style. I dont know this is like the 2nd post on differnent blogs in a short time on this,so maybe you wont reach the person. They see it as they see it and you see it as thas you see it,its prolly best to agree to disagree.
    If i remember it right didnt even sharell@the indian housewife go through a phase of wanting to be indian? Maybe its just that, an extreme phase,that sooner or later will be over.
    And i think alot of it may have to do with the expectations,you are expected to do stuff the indian way in the family you got married in to. That doesent seem to be uncommon in soley indian to indian marriages,the daughter in law is supposed to arrange herself with family tradition and give up her own.

  6. Pardesi means anyone who is not desi.

    Hopefully you don't think I was trying to be 'holier than thou' as that was not my intention. I was only intending to make an observation of some things I've seen where some people do try to act as if they are more desi (and therefore better) than other girls in the community. If I came off sounding 'holier than thou' then I am definitely sorry.

  7. I've heard a lot of girls who were in India a lot longer than me say the same thing. There's been articles posted as well where expats discuss not being able to gain full acceptance into the desi community.

    You're right about the lectures. There's not a single pardesi in the community who knows everything about desi culture. It would be impossible for them to. The only thing that bothers me is when some of them try to force their Indianness upon others. It's wrong. It's just as bad as when religious fanatics knock on your door and try to force you to adopt their religion. People all just need to learn that what is going on in your life is just that - your life. You can't force your thoughts, feelings and ideas on others.

  8. Is it just me or does this kind of pretentiousness only occur in the Indian pardesi community? I haven't had as much exposure to the Nepali or Pakistani pardesi's to notice it. Have you seen it in other desi cultures?

  9. Yes ma'am! We each have very different experiences, thoughts and feelings. We can't force our ideals on others. We can guide them and share experiences but we should never try to outdo each other or flaunt our perceived status, etc.

    You made a good point that I hadn't really taken to heart. I knew it somewhere in the back of my mind but at the same time just didn't really let it sink in. People are sometimes cautious what they put out onto the web and may be much more reserved in their postings. That is different than the outright lies I am referring to but it is still a great point. My thoughts on the lies is seeing someone post one thing in a place they perceive as private then turning around and saying the exact opposite in another place (sometimes public and sometimes private).

    I'm glad you take the view that you do. I wish more people were like that. Just because someone posts something that looks great that doesn't mean they haven't left out the bad parts (like how Indian travel guides don't include the stray dog issues that exist in the country).

    Hopefully my readers understand my blog is 99% opinion. I could never possibly know everything about India, these are simply my observations on my life. It's my learning experience and an account of my feelings and thoughts as I go on this journey.

    I especially love your last sentence. Thanks for your comment! I really value educated opinions. :D

  10. She was really good. She does still blog some but not on the relationship.

    I'm not sure if Sharell wanted to be Indian. I have only talked to her briefly a few times and the subject never came up. This could be an extreme phase that some pardesi's go through. I'm not sure about the expectations though. I think these girls may adopt the expectations as part of trying to fit in but I'm not sure they cause this behavior.

    One thing I find interesting is that pardesi women are told (in many instances) that they will have to follow stict rules after marriage. They are led to believe that Indian women would readily give up their lives and identity to bow down and be servants to their new families. However, this is not true. Indian women don't try nearly as hard to fit in as some pardesi's do. I've talked about that before as well. I've had many Indian women tell me they would never give in to half the demands that pardesi women do. I wish more girls understood this so they wouldn't have their own culture taken from them or just throw it away.

  11. ahh

    I wasn't talking about you but your commentors on your blog :< sorry for the misunderstanding.

    I find that amusing really because I just find it funny because I think by becoming very desi (wearing saris 24/7 /eating only curry etc etc) they usually are more desi then desis themselves.
    For me I would never be able to understand the reason to why somebody would want to completely turn into something that they are not.
    I don't think they are blending in but standing out.

    I know I wouldn't do it because I don't have that obsession that a lot of bloggers have with Pakistani/Indian culture. I don't really like bollywood/lollywood and although I like the food the spices just make my mouth burn.

    I'm always interested in learning new cultures and languages so that is what my main focus is as well as the clothes... love love love the clothes.
    Would I wear it on a daily basis? not unless its something that can blend in but I tend to pick elegant clothes so I guess that would be out of the question :(

  12. huh I realized I repeated myself in my third sentence please ignore it D=

    I do think people should cherish their culture/languages more and not get sucked up on all the hype.
    I find it really sad when some of my friends can't speak their mothers or fathers language (sometiems both). Its such a waste really.

  13. Yes, I've been unfortunate enough to experience this in pardesi women married to Nepali men and Pakistani men. Then we go on to the pretentiousness of pardesis married to Hindus or Muslims- often condescending to other pardesi wives for not being Hindu enough or Muslim enough.

  14. I need to check her blog out more often then. Yea, maybe i rememberd it wrong or misinterpreted a post (wouldnt be the first time I have done that) because I cant find it but i did find an interview with her (obviously dont know her personally and never talked with her just stalked her blog a few months ago) where she put a different slant on the issue: that expats in india are competetive for being the most exotic. I thinks its hard to generalize and the most important factor i have found so far is weather the husband or partner has some backbone. If he backs up his partner aginst his parents all is fine,if he is spineless then it seems the girl ends up giving up a lot. Thats just my conclusion so far.

  15. do you need someone to tell you women to stop biting other women?

  16. Thanks K, I just wanted to be sure I didn't sound that way. This whole discussion (not just yours but with others commenters as well) reminds me of that Goodness Gracious Me episode with the white woman. If you haven't seen it, watch this - it's hilarious but I think points out how some people can act.

  17. I've seen the religious pretentiousness as well. Sometimes I just drop my jaw at how openly some people act! The condescending tones are what get my blood boiling. Thanks for replying. Now I know this happens elsewhere as well.

  18. You're right, if the desi partner backs up his wife then there are much less issues in the home.

    Thanks for sharing the link. It does seem like she tried to be desi for a little while and she's absolutely right about the competition. That was what I was trying to touch on with this post. There are several girls that act just like what she said. They are very competitive for no reason. Their efforts are futile. In the end, we're all unique with different backgrounds and experiences that are impossible to compare.

  19. Nope. We are women, it's what we do. :P

  20. men base their self worth on the number of peoples opinions they dont give a f&#@ about. women on the other hand are the exact opposite. you should stop else you'll find yourself deleting some posts again in the future. if u have a history of impulsive behavior then shouldnt u act against it?

  21. You seem to have taken my comment way too seriously. I would have added the silly smiley at the end had it been at all serious. For the record, this post isn't about back-biting, I wrote it over a month ago and scheduled it as I do most of the posts I write. It was not about any one woman, it was about the attitudes I see in some of the women in this community.
    Deleting those post was not a random impulse and had nothing to do with another woman.

  22. so true. i knew coming in to my move it wasn't rainbows and unicorns. but i feel like people want me to pretend it is... even when they, themselves know it isn't that way! Of course there are good and bad. We can celebrate the good but we need support to get through those not so good times!

  23. that is very true. early on (around 2005) i started looking online for other groups (i was in one good one) and found there were the groups who "thought they were indian" and those who just kept on and adopted small parts and adapted

  24. I too found people wanted me to pretend things were all great and life was good all the time. That's not realistic. Just because we share our struggles doesn't mean our lives are falling apart or that we can't handle what is going on. It just means we're being true to ourselves and not covering up the bad things around us. We have a right to think and feel in ways that others' don't.

  25. I think I started looking around 2010. I found that even in the good groups there are some who can't handle a difference of opinion. Some can't face negative experiences and others will complain when they go through troubles with India then turn around and condemn others who face the same struggles later on. It's often hard to understand this community. You were one of the few people who has been nice to me all along, supportive without being critical or rude. I appreciate that. (Though you may not remember the name I used in MTI originally.) :)