Wednesday, April 27, 2005

We, The Diaspora

For decades America has weaned hundreds of thousands of young Indians away from the homeland. Dreams of big bucks, cosmopolitan lifestyles and pure and unadulterated need for survival has seen our people arrive here in swarms and slog their way to being called the single most affluent immigrant community in the US. To define the american desi mindset in a single sentence or a paragraph is impossible today. Social scientists all over the US are viewing the growth of our community within our cultural framework and into the American society with great interest. Without doing much harm to their research I thought it apt to pen down some of my observations on Indian-American life, behaviors, attitudes and generational change.

The typical post 90's desi in America, I fathom is very much like me. Still hums the songs that became chartbusters on tv when they were in India, watches helplessly as their interest in cricket wanes and wanes, doesnt miss a single chance to watch a new movie at the theatre with friends, visits ever indian news site as a daily ritual and every conversation with old pals has a trace of nostalgia for all things seen, done and said back home. The untypical ones..which we rarely see are the ones who take to the US-lifestyle with a vengeance...pick up the accent, love the night-life and find it fun to have american friends. What unites us all is that we are unbending sticklers to the law of the land, work in earnest from 9-6, pay our taxes, donot litter on the streets unlike our days back home when we bend every law and nicety till it cracked. Like the mexicans who work at American homes, roads and factories we have become the force behind the internet and computers that powers the USA of today while Americans have remained content doing what they know to do best....manage, talk and lead.

In contrast to my ilk, the first-generation folks who immigrated here in the 60's to the mid 80's really fascinate me. Theirs was a tale of struggle to establish a foothold but were rewarded with success and fortune in a nascent country witnessing immense economic growth and scarcity of labor. The India they came from, unlike us had no telephones, jobs, TV's, cars or the basic amenities we the Gen X (or is it Y now??) had taken for granted back home. Their kids grew up hearing abt a poor, over-crowded, under-developed India and whom we fashionably call ABCD's are pucca American in outlook and lifestyle but I believe hampered by their parents insistence on giving them an upbringing rooted in Indian they grow up they are constantly at loggerheads with their parents abt their attitudes, the clothes they wear, choosing life-partners and wht not. I wonder what good Indian culture can do if the kids visit India once in a blue moon or cannot manage to speak the native language properly. Like the saying ..."If you are in Rome, be like the Romans" wouldnt it have been better these kids were just left to grow into normal Americans. Of course there are many honorable exceptions to all I said above. But the young desi parents of today unlike their predecessors of the previous generation are confident of their origins, proud of their Indian-ness and make concerted efforts to teach their kids our language and make it a point to visit India often and some kids are even sent to do schooling for a year or two. It remains to be probed where this generation will go...but we'll have the answers in another 5-10 years!

45 years of the Indian exodus has left a lasting impact on American soil. More americans are learning to do programming as a a way of life. Outsourcing has caused significant job losses with a result Indians working in affected companies are viewed with distaste. With India growing in leaps and bounds in every sector of the economy another wave of Indian influx to the US looks improbable. Like the premise of the recent movie, Swades I sense an eastward outflux back to their roots by many desis here. This was just abt the American diaspora, we have oil & construction workers in the Gulf, the progeny of 19th century bonded laborers in the carribean, mauritius, fiji and africa, the jobseekers of the 30' s to 50's in south-east asia, and what feels like the most sweetest revenge of Mother India is the Indian dominance in every sector of the economy and every aspect of life in Britain, our looter and tormentor for centuries. The diaspora is truely India's greatest contribution to modern civilization and for We...The Diaspora, India and being Indian is incorrigibly in our blood.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Nice one chum!