Before I begin, a huge apology for the erratic posting. I just finished my semester finals and I’m honestly frazzled, sleep deprived and unsure if I actually made it out of that hell. The past six weeks have taken a lot out of me and I’m drained. BUT I hope to be back to my usual activity soon, and since all I’m doing is working and going out until I go overseas, I’ll have a lot more down time which is fantastic.
I thought post two would be a little narration into the daily aspects of my life, and how having two cultural identities plays a role and plays a part in who I am, how I act and the values and attitudes that have been imbibed into my lifestyle.
There are various cultural norms that we subconsciously adopt as we grow and mature. And I’m quite happy with the things I’ve picked up from both living in Australia, and having an Indian heritage.
I’m a free spoken young woman living in a first world society in a first world country. I’ve been blessed with the liberty of access to free speech – a right that I use, and honestly would not be able to survive without. I believe in an egalitarian society, regardless of whether that’s referring to race, culture, sexual orientation, socioeconomic status or status of work. I believe in an individual’s right to equal treatment an representation in all walks of life. I live quite a liberal and free life. We have a relaxed stance around people in society, and there are no qualified signs of respect that we display to our elders or superiors, except for addressing them via their titles, rather than their names.
I’ve always been encouraged to broaden my horizons, socialise with all members of the community, and seek friendships with everyone. I’ve grown up playing a lot of sport, joining various extra-curricular activities, and the importance of work experience has always been stressed. There’s nothing more I love then having a kick back with mates at the beach or having a barbecue. I’m an avid sports fan and also thoroughly enjoy giving back to my community.
These ideas, cultures and values, I associate as Australian cultural norms. These are facets of my life that I’ve been exposed to since the day I was born.
However, I think I’ve only uttered my sister’s birth name 10 times in my 18 years. Out of respect for my elders, my sister is always referred to as didi. And I don’t think I’d ever be able to address her by her actual name. I am able to somewhat fluidly change my tongue and accent to wrap around the different sound of Hindi, and am exceptionally passionate about weddings and celebrations. On a more general note, I’m expected to remove my shoes outside the house, or near the entrance, as to not dirty the house; and I have a specific pair of slippers that I should wear around the house.
We eat with our hands usually, and cutlery is only used for gravies, “wet” dishes and occasionally rice, depending on what the rice is paired with. Every time we invite friends to dinner, the fathers of the families will always argue over the bill, as its customary for the wealthiest or the host family to foot the bill at a restaurant. We come bearing gifts every time there’s a house party, and will spend hours saying our goodbyes at the doors (this isn’t stereotyped. It’s a fact). As an Hindu, I take great pride in our religious activities, although I’m not a practicing Hindu. But I love that my parents ensured I know about my religion and the rituals that occur at auspicious times of the year.
These are the ideas, cultures and values I associate with my Indian heritage, and Indian cultural norms. These are the facets of my everyday experiences that have been introduced by my parents, my extended families and the amount of indian culture we’re exposed to, here in Australia.
So then what’s the issue?
When you have two explosive cultures residing within you, you realise you aren’t enough of either.
I once thought I fit into the Australian and indian definitions of cultural norms, but I realised I didn’t. I don’t drink like an Aussie. My attitude, while it is carefree, isn’t liberal or relaxed in everything I do. I’m not demure or shy, and I don’t shy away from interacting with guys. I don’t believe in the hierarchy in India, and hate the system of maids and workers for each family. I can’t handle large family gatherings, and struggle under the pressure of not being good enough for my identity.
The struggle is not being adequate enough for either, and not knowing how to merge these two identities together.