The Cultural Difference

I am a Not quite Australian Born confused Desi.

Which basically means I was born in India but grew up in Australia so I fall into the “neither here nor there” category. There are a few of us, trust me. We don’t fit in anywhere in India because we were babies when we were there and we don’t fit in anywhere in Australia because well…. you’re “black”…OMG how do you speak english so well? ūüėí

I watch Bollywood movies and Hollywood Movies. I enjoy both…no not enjoy… i APPRECIATE both. I also APPRECIATE both cultures. It is however true that, in some instances, one culture in me stands out the most. For example, I don’t quite understand the Aussie dream. Not sure what it is either… go to the beach and eat a pie? Not sure? Have a beach house maybe?

 Anyway… the Indian in me screams “OH no… that’s  just lazy! How about education and a good job????” 

But it also goes the other way around… when I got married I wasn’t quite sure why I couldn’t speak to some respected family members the way I usually do. My husband’s grandfather is a very respected man in South India. He is a bad ass real estate agent (you only need to delve into the politics in India to know what this means). Everytime he walked in and out of a room people stood up and said hi to him the respectful way (put your hands together in the praying position or fall at his feet..no…really). Male… female.. babies who couldn’t walk…seriously it was insane. And then along came little ole’ me. I walk into the house to meet him for the first time and he is standing there in his traditional clothes (always wears it)

And I said “Hi”… everyone giggles like the way you giggle at a baby for doing something wrong but it’s cute. I look around at my mother in law and she asks me to fall at his feet. I said out loud “Seriously?” and she nods… so I do this awkward fall feet thing and everyone is in a silent laughter fit (even the kids!)

I was more confused than embarrassed because I had no idea why I had to do that. When I got up, he smiles at me and says “We won’t do that again. How about we just let you be you?” 

It took a few more months of me living with my mother in law for me to realise why people in India did the things they did and it made sense… most of it has a scientific reasoning behind it… some of it just a matter of respect. None the less I came out of that experience thinking I knew who I was and where I fit. 

9 years later….

I was rewatching Kal Ho Na Ho. For those of you who don’t know what this is… please do Google it. There are some really fantastic videos out there that I cannot access due to copyright issues.

It is a story about a boy who is about to die meets a girl and they fall in love but her best friend is also in love with her. When she comes to tell the boy that they should go out…he says no and instead sets her up with the best friend and they live happily ever after. Except for the boy….he dies.

I asked an aussie mate of mine what she would do if she was the one that was dying and had to make a choice. Would she set her love up with someone else or be selfish? And she said to me “I would make the person I like make the choice” 

This blew my mind. 

In all my years of watching and rewatching this movie I never EVER thought about this choice. What about the girl and what she wants? The Indian in me came out and just said well he did whats best for her. He gave up his love so she would be happy isn’t that sweet? But how could I think this when I have been in kind of the same situation?? I have been forced into a marriage because people thought that was what was best for me. They never made me make a choice and here I am thinking it is okay for another (fictional) girl!!!!! I am quite shocked at myself. 

I won’t deny that there is a difference in the way women are treated in India. You walk behind a girl not hand in hand, because you can keep an eye and make sure no one touches her inappropriately while you’re walking down the street. It’s just something you do. Not taught, it’s just natural now. This is not necessarily a dominance thing for the male population as some would make you believe. It’s just as hard for them because they have this duty to forever be the “manly” one. Until recently men were not allowed in the labour ward. Can you imagine that? Not being able to watch your baby being born? 
Maybe it’s just a matter of which characters percpective you watch the movie from and not really a cultural thing. (We can argue that one’s percpective is influenced by their culture).

Whatever it is percpective or cultural difference… the fact that I never thought about the girl just threw me off. 

I am 30 years old but I am still learning so much about myself. Growing up I thought I’d know it all by 30. Now I know the people who taught me when I was younger had no idea what they were doing either. 

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When you are poor:

You are stressed so you want to surround yourself with your mates who will make you feel better but you cant go out (no money) and you cant bring them over either because you dont have food in your house.

You dont have food in your house and you find methods to not feel that hunger in your gut or that smell in your mouth. Free biscuits and tea at work. Refill. But its not enough and your body is still starved to a certain degree so you are constantly tired and yawning. You manage to skip breakfast and blame it on lack of time, you manage to put off lunch till 2pm and you use the excuse that its busy at work… and you eat the boiled potato that you have now had for 2 weeks… by the time you go home at 6 you are starved. When you feed your kids, it take every ounce of you to stop yourself from just “tasting” their food and you hope they dont eat all of it. You dont fight them when they dont finish their plate and hastily eat over the sink, licking every morsel clean.

Repeat

You can have a house, a husbad, kids and a job and still be poor.

Welcome to Australia. It costs half our salaries to feed our families and 4 weeks worth of pay for babysitters. Its either babies or a house.

You choose.