Tuesday, June 26, 2018

My Struggle with Punjabi Culture

In Indian Pop Culture, Punjabi's are painted as boisterous, over-the-top, elaborate and outright show-offish in most every capacity. You'll hear phrases like 'larger-than-life' used often when Punjabi's or their events are being discussed. The picture of the typical Punjabi looks something like this:


For Punjabi's, only the most well-known international brands will do. Versace, Armani, Lamborghini, Tesla, Gucci, etc. are their go-to brands. There's nothing wrong with those brands, but if you believe the hype, then a true Punjabi would never be caught dead in *gasp* lesser brands.

Everything they do must be big and expensive. All their gadgets and clothes should be flashy.  Discounts?? Second-hand?? Never!

While most all of this is just a stereotype, you will definitely see many Punjabi's wanting to live up to that hype. After all, they're being told everyone else is doing it, why shouldn't they? A big part of Indian culture is about fitting in and not embarrassing your family.

That's where my troubles begin. I'm all for spending your money wisely and only purchasing quality items but not all internationally known brands are good quality nor do their items fit my needs based solely on their brand name alone. One such Indian-loved icon would be Apple phones, watches, computers. Apple is a well-known and good brand but I personally hate the iPhone. My husband loves it though he cannot tell me why. I suspect it's because it's so popular among many other Indians.

I also don't like Old Navy clothing and every time we drive by their store he tells me he's heard how good the clothing is and he wants to go in. I kindly remind him he'll need to go without me as I don't like them. This always leads to a discussion about how he doesn't understand why.

I prefer to live my life fairly simple and I'm making slow progress towards a minimalist lifestyle. I don't buy new clothes every season. I don't need shoes with the word Jordan written across them to showcase who made them. I don't buy clothes with big brand labels on them. I personally don't like them. I'm sure most of you can guess, I completely skipped the trend of wearing sweatpants with words on the butt area. I am not trying to attract that kind of attention LOL.

I know and work with many Indians, some of which are Punjabi and I know not all Punjabi's are like this. But I also know quite a few Punjabi's who are. Almost all of them want to get into some kind of debate with me about why I don't like this big international brands. If I advise them it's simply not my taste or doesn't suit my needs, they don't seem to be able to truly grasp that concept. As if one-size fits all as long as the brand is right.

Most of the time I just avoid these conversations but when you live with one of these Punjabi's, that is not always possible. Rohit and I have frequent conversations about these items and places.

Being American, my choices in products also factors in the company ethics. There are stores I refuse to shop in, brands I refuse to support or purchase and things like that simply because the company itself offends my morals. I prefer to support businesses that don't promote slave or child labor, and who take care of their workers for example.

I'm also completely ok if someone else does not agree with my choices. I don't have to shop at a store, you can if you want. Just don't try to force me to change my view based on the popularity of the item or store.


Another thing I struggle with is the use of star ratings on websites, products, etc. So if Rohit is looking for a movie for example, he only wants to see the ones that have 4 or 5 star ratings. I've tried, to no avail, to explain to him those are user reviews and can't be trusted. People pay for good reviews on just about everything so if you see 5 million high ratings and 3 comments on something, it's a good bet that the ratings are faked. Still, if he's looking for anything, the first thing he does is check the star rating, it doesn't even matter how many people have rated it. I've seen him insist something was good because it had a 5 star rating when only 3 people had reviewed it.

All of these things possibly stem from my own trust issues. I don't trust companies, corporations or people I don't know. I'm a major skeptic when it comes to just about everything. So no, I don't believe that a product or company is good just because a commercial or some fake ratings tell me so.

While none of these struggles are significant, it has caused me a bit of frustration when dealing with Punjabi's. I haven't successfully found a way to explain why I make my own choices and don't go with the masses.

What aspects of stereotypical culture do you struggle with in your relationship?

1 comment: