On Being Down With Dating Brown

Raakhee

This Sunday, I woke up to an email from a girlfriend who is not Desi. She said that there was a really thought-provoking article in the New York Post, which reminded her of some of our conversations. She thought I might enjoy it. Enjoy it? I could have written parts of it. It was about Dating While Brown– and dating other Browns, to be specific.

The piece was called, “MELTING NOT: Why Young People Like me Started Dating Within our Race“. In it, NYP reporter Raakhee Mirchandani wrote a sensitive, honest explanation of her views on love– and I can just imagine the nastiness she might be encountering because of it.

It’s never easy to put yourself out there, so I salute her for doing so. Besides, with this issue, you can’t win. You date outside your community and you’re either a sell-out, desperate or a coconut. Date within it and you’re insular, insecure and biased. Ugh. Can’t we all just get along? I hope we can remember to be kind to one another, as we discuss an issue which affects all of us, albeit in different ways. We’ve got to let love rule, or whatever Lenny screams. On to the story.

::

I know so many friends, whose experience mirrored this:

Growing up, the man in my dreams was a mystery; he was white, he was tall, he was dark, he was slick. He was always handsome. In my fantasy it didn’t matter if he was Catholic or Muslim, European or African, if he ate pigs or worshipped monkeys. It didn’t matter if he understood that I came from a rich tradition of Indian Hindus who were strict vegetarians, quietly conservative, obsessively dedicated to family and maniacal in their love for cheesy song-and-dance movies with mediocre acting and music.
And so when we met, freshman year at Boston University – the street smart Eastern European with a gorgeous smile, big heart and wicked sense of humor and the artsy Indian girl with a penchant for big hair, Bollywood and Biggie -it seemed like the perfect cross-continental match.

Ah, Biggie. I pour some of my Robitussin with Codeine out for you.

But somewhere along our six years together, the Indian girl from Jersey, who had naively promised him Catholic children, steak dinners and consistently defended his refusal to hang with my family as a simple difference in opinion, had a change of heart. And he did, too.
I remember him looking at me on an evening not far from our last and saying, “It’s like all of a sudden you became Indian.” In a way so quiet I didn’t even realize it was happening, the brown from my skin must have seeped in and colored my heart.

That line just slays me. I project emotions and explanations all over it. Is it accusatory? A blurt of hurt? Is becoming “Indian” a negative thing? The defending “his refusal to hang with my family” is also poignant. America may be a country of individuals, but most of us who are of South Asian descent are tightly tied to our families, for better or for worse. No one wants to be caught in that vise between one love and another.

Surprisingly, I’m not the only one. While the rate of intermarriage among races increased over the past half-century, the last decade has seen a reversal – particularly among Asians and Latinos. According to a Ohio State University study, from 1990-2000 the number of Hispanics marrying outside their race fell from 27% to 20%, while Asian intermarriage dropped from 42% to 33%.

I’m no Razib, but this matches what I feel like I’m witnessing around me (and yes, this is the same stat Abhi mentioned in this post). At one point, if I saw a second- or third-generation Asian-American with an Asian spouse, I was surprised, because so many of my friends had married “out”. Now, I see a reversal of that. Maybe it’s easier for us to find each other, thanks to the internets. Then again, maybe Ohio State and I are full of it (highly probable– I’m supposed to be a Michigan fan).

After brushing it off for so long, many of my relatives and friends are listening to that nagging voice in our collective heads. You know, the one that sounds like a hybrid of your mom/dad/grandparent/aunt/uncle/neighbor-in-the-old-country telling you in heavily accented English, “Have you found anyone yet, dahling? Can we introduce you to Mr. Kapoor’s son? He is doctor. Ven vill you finally give us good news?” Despite my better efforts to buck the traditional Indian girl inside me – glossy black locks turned to bleached blond in a weak moment of teen angst; pre-med was never an undergraduate option and much to my parents chagrin; I have always favored copious amounts of worthless costume jewels over precious museum-grade family heirlooms – I discovered that I’m not really that much of a rebel after all.

Yeah, me neither. Well, except for the remaining defiantly single at 34 bit. Maybe it’s because I’ve retired all five pairs of my Doc Martens, but I don’t feel like a rebel…until grateful letters from some of you label me as such; “I’m so glad there’s another Desi girl who isn’t married…I’m 26 and the pressure is horrid!”

Note to 26-year old: don’t allow yourself to be rushed in to a damned thing. The people who nag you to get hitched now won’t be sympathetic to you if you separate or get a divorce. Then you’ll be THAT girl, the one with the “past”.

Even if you end up happily married, they will never stop butting in to your life, because sometime after your wedding reception commences, they’ll be demanding a schedule for when you’ll be procreating offspring, or where you’ll be purchasing a home. As I like to say to my long-suffering Mother: “If I don’t get on that merry-go-round, I don’t have to worry about vomiting.”

You third-generation tykes owe us big. We smug singles are facing the wrath of our community now, so that one day you can actually take advantage of this “30 is the new 20″ bullshit, and go to weddings, funerals, housewarmings or any other Desi-infested event without cringing, or hiding from the Auntie mafia in your car. Don’t worry about thanking us, just hook us up when we’re 65, since Social Security isn’t going to do it.

Back to Raakhee:

During the Obama campaign, commentators asked if younger people were growing up in a colorblind society. I certainly hope it’s a more tolerant one – but not blind. Living in harmony doesn’t mean camouflaging our differences, or denying that we have any. And while I would never judge an Indian person who chose an interracial relationship – love in whatever way it comes is flawless – I know that I could never do it again.

I could never do it in the first place, mostly because of what I’ve bolded below:

Relationships are hard enough, no matter who you love. Maintaining and sustaining them requires a combination of courage, compromise and dedication. But there’s a comfort in building a solid foundation with someone who comes from a similar place. I don’t want to have to explain the minutia of my complex culture, hoping for both understanding and approval. I want to begin on equal footing, roots already firmly planted in a common garden.

I’m more of a wanna-be geek, so my declaration contained something like, “I want someone pre-loaded with all this software, I don’t want to have to install anything”. Please don’t tell me if that makes no sense. :) Just focus on my alternate line, “I ain’t no one’s cultural tour guide.” Classy, I know. That almost sounds like I hate non-Desis. Not at all. In some of those memorable instances, I desperately didn’t want to be the object of someone’s fetish or part of that one guy’s UN fantasy which involved…well, you get the picture. Even if the rare non-Desi guy who expressed interest didn’t fall in to one of those two weird categories, I worried that having to explain every little thing or answer a plethora of questions would become exhausting.

Yet I know friends and family who feel the exact opposite of such sentiments (well…not the UN thing). They love sharing who we are with their significant others from different backgrounds. They relish building bridges by spreading the Brown love and Gods bless them for it. I just can’t do it, Captain. To each, our own, right?

What’s right for me or Raakhee isn’t even right for some of my immediate family members. While Raakhee found her prince, two of my girls got no love or interest from boys within our community; that’s not an exaggeration. I could write horrifying posts about the Desi boys who met them and said, “You’re much darker than I thought you would be”, or similar ugliness. I had a Cross Colors shirt in the early 90s which said, “Love see no color”. We could easily amend it to: “Stupidity see no color.” A douche is a douche, regardless of race.

Those two beautiful women are now marrying outside of our community, and I’m glad for it. I’m not implying that only people who strike out with brown go hunting elsewhere. I’m just mentioning two specific family members who are marrying amazing people and that matters more than skin. If brown boys/girls aren’t feeling you, to hell with them. If you only find that “amazing” with someone whose Mom makes sambar too (guilty), then more hand soap to you. We each need to make this decision for ourselves (are you reading, 26-year old?? You’re fine! Stay strong!).

I’m the kind of girl who is as comfortable worshipping multi-armed deities as she is worshipping at Chanel. The kind who can easily wrap herself in to a 5-yard sari in a public bathroom but much prefers Uggs and leggings. Certainly the kind who washes down a spicy curry with a glass of Johnny on the rocks.

Yeah, I’m just going to state for the record right now that I could never put a sari on in a public bathroom. I don’t even like to put a sari on in my current apartment, because the full-length mirror is unfortunately near where I put on and take off shoes, near the door. Eeek. Oh, Raakhee, you are a better ladki than I. While you’re not asking, I also like Black and coke instead, thanks!

That makes me Indian and American, and the truth is, it’s easier when someone understands the first part of that as much as the latter.

YES. I agree, 100 percent. At the same time, I have noticed that interracial couples where both parties are from minority or “ethnic” backgrounds–which emphasize family– do seem to find some common ground.

So now I’ve taken the UPS approach to dating: What can brown do for me?
More than I ever thought.

Here comes her happy ending:

My current boyfriend, Agan, is the kind of Punjabi prince dreams are made of. He held me last year when Bombay burned and I broke. He high-fived me when “Slumdog” took home eight golden trophies and I squealed. He rolls his eyes when I talk about Yankee Stadium like it’s The Bronx version of the Golden Temple. He’s from the left (wrong) coast, you see; not everything can be Disney fairytales.
But he understands without questioning that I will live at home with my parents until I get married. That family obligations trump any evening plans we may have made. Without my suggesting it, he mentioned that when we grew up and had a house of our own, there would be room for both sets of parents, his and mine. I was enamored.
In that moment I knew why it never worked between me and anybody else. I had underestimated the power of my parenting, the grip of my culture and the strong but subtle shades of India that I reflect.
In less than a year he has earned his way into my parents’ hearts, fielding near daily text messages and e-mails from my mother, approving but curious glances from my father and even joining my brother in a weekly basketball league. It’s as if they already knew each other. And in a way they did.

Your mother can text?! Mine thinks GChat is annoying. Lucky you! Speaking of superior communication products made from Goo, I GMailed Raakhee to ask if anything important had been cut from the story. Sepia Mutiny: we’re like the DVD with deleted scenes! Here’s what she had to say:

What we had to cut from the essay which I thought was important was the idea that being Indian was something I had to grow in to. Not in a conscious way, but something I had to sort of become comfortable expressing. And just being.
Also, I grew up in a way I imagine many desi chicks did who are my age (27); I was a nerdy, hairy (omfg the ‘stache, the unibrow, the horror!) and completely convinced that I would never, ever date. I thought Indian guys wouldn’t get me and all the others would think I was gross. In a way, despite my ridic inflated sense of self (and trust me, i thought i was some super hot shit when i was younger!!), when it came to dating and relationships, I didn’t think I was good enough to date either, brown or white.

Oh, if that isn’t Junior year of high school revisited, I don’t know WHAT is. Sigh.

Back to the article, for the last two paragraphs:

Despite the countries we share, we are still different. His family is Sikh. He wears a turban. Mine are Hindu and we don’t accessorize. But the fundamentals are the same; family first and everything else next.
As usual my parents were right, bless their darling immigrant hearts. It turns out I am both New Delhi and New Jersey, and the man in my dreams finally has a face to reflect that.

I’m happy for you, Raakhee, the same way I’m happy for anyone who finds their lobster. Everyone deserves the bliss that is real love. We may have different desires, preferences, approaches to searching for it, or ways to label it, but in the end, we each want the same thing, no matter with whom we may find it.

409 thoughts on “On Being Down With Dating Brown

  1. Hmm, maybe a lot of it depends on how conservative the parents are? I’m a first gen Canadian/South Asian and have lived in both, the US and Canada. My parents have always been liberal and accepting of other cultures. It was definitely harder to integrate with Americans than Canadians (who are far more respectful towards my culture–from my personal experience). And similarly, South Asians in Canada are also much more respectful of other cultures than those in the US–it’s only once again, my personal experience. There seems to be a lot less, ‘we’re so awesome, so much smarter than these white people, our kids will make the smartest doctors ever’ in the brown community here. Maybe that’s why interracial / inter-culteral dating is a lot easier here and maybe has a higher success rate.

    My Indian friends from metropolitan cities in India say the same thing, they’re shocked sometimes upon meeting the second gen Indians kids their age. The second generation Indians from the US are a heck of a lot more conservative than they are!

  2. Here’s a British point of view about this…

    I grew up an environment where Punjabis dominated things. At no point did I ever feel that I had to hide or assimilate into British culture. Punjabis love to drink, and so do white Brits, so there were never any issues. The white Brits who did ever try to make fun of Indians, often got their heads kicked in.

    Before I went to university, almost every single Indian guy I dated a white girl. This wasn’t cos of a specific preference, it’s just that everybody in the Indian community knew each other (I grew up in a small town) so it would be a pain in the arse to date an Indian girl. Almost all of these guys later went on to marry Indian women. My neighbour’s cousin who often visited, had a black Jamaican wife. For me dating outside of race was normal.

    I now live in the US, and I have to say, it seems a lot different over here. I’ve dated all sorts here, but I get the feeling that Indian men aren’t particulary considered desirable over here. White British women on the whole are open to Indian men, I don’t get that feeling in the US, in my limited experience.

    Regarding my observations in UK. These are not my personal opinions, this is what i’ve heard…

    British-Indian women on the whole loathe guys fresh from India. Reason being is that British Indians are working class people, with links to villages. There’s a very negative image associated with guys from India. Everybody in UK knows of horror stories of British-Indian female who married guys fresh from India. A distant cousin married a guy from India, and was stabbed by him. Another cousin attempted suicide cos her Indian husband was so horrible to her etc. I could write a book on this crap.

    British-Indian men who marry women from India are seen as losers. People think, “Couldn’t he find somebody in UK?”

    What about inter-caste marriage? I’m considered an untouchable, and I can tell you that there are many Jatt Sikh families who would rather daughter married a white guy than somebody of my caste.

    To marry a white person is seen as “marrying down” on the whole. The whites we grew up around were not well off, the Indians made a lot more money than them. There’s also a mentality amongst Indians guys that white women are “only good for one thing”. There’s a problem of Pakistani guys allegedly forcing white girls into prostitution.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-545289/Muslim-leader-accuses-police-cautious-stopping-Asian-gangs-pimping-white-girls.html

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/crime/article2237940.ece

    My family has no problems with marrying a non-Indian btw.

  3. 302 · KA said

    My Indian friends from metropolitan cities in India say the same thing, they’re shocked sometimes upon meeting the second gen Indians kids their age. The second generation Indians from the US are a heck of a lot more conservative than they are!

    I’ll have to agree on that.

    Kaizen, try hanging out with the University Desi (DBD or ABD) crowd. I’ll be surprised, if anyone asks question about cooking, before asking nerdy stuff ;) . Or try volunteering for some desh related NGO, where you will meet more desi, if you want ‘desi’ i.e.

  4. I’ve dated all sorts here, but I get the feeling that Indian men aren’t particularly considered desirable over here.

    I’m pretty sure it’s the ultra-violence of your, err, shall I dignify it with the term “social set,” old egg, to wit:

    The white Brits who did ever try to make fun of Indians, often got their heads kicked in.

    Never heard of “stick and stones, etc.” what, what?

  5. How can one find consistency in another if one cannot find it in oneself?

    All foundations are built on this…

  6. The whites we grew up around were not well off, the Indians made a lot more money than them.

    As good an example of the difference between class and $$ as I could ever come up with on my own–and you were hanging out with these poor whites, why, exactly??

  7. I really hate the fact that caste-ism is still so prevalent in the Punjabi-Sikh community specifically because the Sikh religion has as it’s most fundamental tenants the equality of everyone, even men and women – heck, our tenth guru had 5 men of different castes drink out of the same bowl – and this was a couple hundred years ago. Even our middle names of Singh and Kaur are meant to unite us in common manner.

    Many heard the story about the punjabi girl who went to India and married a rickshaw driver and was killed by a hit squad hired by her own parents – and they were Canadian Sikhs – stuff which makes it so much harder as normal, non-fundamentalists (I’m more of an atheist).

    But as someone stated earlier – culture is different from race or religion. I just find this so confounding though. Side note – always found it amusing back home in Vancouver when young brown guys would go around proclaiming how proud they were of being Punjabi and Sikh – declaring how hardcore they were as Jatts (quite a few up there) – found this ironic since, as mentioned, Sikhs are supposed to be caste-less.

    Just more things that complicate something which should be very simple.

  8. 309 · brown man said

    I always keep my women down. But only because they like it that way.

    lovely. now if you could only keep it up

  9. Rob,

    In the UK, most of the whites who live in desi neighbourhoods are usually not very well off. A lot of the Indians who live in these areas have their own businesses and generally do a lot better economically. So in my experiance in the desi areas especially around london, you’ll find a range of working class to middle class indians but the white demographic was more working class or Recent Eastern European Immigrant.

    However i think i see more intermarriage here than i did in the UK, even though interracial dating was very common, eventually most people i know married desi.

  10. Lovely post. Enjoyed reading it thoroughly. As an unmarried Central Asian lady (and oh boy, the unmarried situation is so bad, my mummy doesn’t even ask me if I am dating, she just gives me a doleful look) with several distinct personalities, I relate, sympathize, feel, and understand the challenges, dynamics, and issues of dating a guy from “my people” versus “not our people”. I have read countless articles on this very issue. Personally I have dated inside my own community, as well as outside. What I learned from it is all is that at the end of the day I want to be with a person who “gets me”, and someone I can share my life with. White, black, brown, that is of little importance…

  11. Hmm, maybe a lot of it depends on how conservative the parents are? I’m a first gen Canadian/South Asian and have lived in both, the US and Canada. My parents have always been liberal and accepting of other cultures. It was definitely harder to integrate with Americans than Canadians (who are far more respectful towards my culture–from my personal experience). And similarly, South Asians in Canada are also much more respectful of other cultures than those in the US–it’s only once again, my personal experience. There seems to be a lot less, ‘we’re so awesome, so much smarter than these white people, our kids will make the smartest doctors ever’ in the brown community here. Maybe that’s why interracial / inter-culteral dating is a lot easier here and maybe has a higher success rate. My Indian friends from metropolitan cities in India say the same thing, they’re shocked sometimes upon meeting the second gen Indians kids their age. The second generation Indians from the US are a heck of a lot more conservative than they are!

    didn’t someone already post statistics showing that indo-canadians outmarry at much lower rates than indian-americans? and there was an article too, saying that the rates have gone down because the south asian community in canada is very insular. your experience actually seems more unusual for an indo-canadian than for an indian-american. also, demographically speaking, perhaps the indo-canadians are less ‘my kids are smarter than the white kids, they’re gonna be super-smart doctors!’ because it’s simply not as true in their case, i.e. canada has different immigration policies and therefore a more socioeconomically diverse south asian immigrant population.

    as for the 2nd gens in the U.S. being more conservative than indians from metropolitan cities, those indians make up a tiny fraction of the indian population. my cousins are what i would consider typical rising middle class indians, the kind with engineering degrees who work in call centers, but i would say that they’re still more bound to their families and communities than the 2nd gens i know. granted, i was surprised when i discovered that one of them smokes pot… but most 2nd gens i know drink, many smoke pot, i’m pretty sure a majority of them have premarital sex, the last of which is still a major taboo based on what i’ve seen. i’m so sick of this ‘indian-americans are so conservative!’ trope. are we all supposed to be partying it up all the time, having casual sex with all the united colors of benetton, become starving artists, only ever eat caviar and drink pinot noir, and never get married while having a live-in partner for 15 years, in order to ‘prove’ that we’re not so backward and nerdy compared to the enlightened elite of cosmopolitan india.

  12. are we all supposed to be partying it up all the time, having casual sex with all the united colors of benetton, become starving artists, only ever eat caviar and drink pinot noir, and never get married while having a live-in partner for 15 years, in order to ‘prove’ that we’re not so backward and nerdy compared to the enlightened elite of cosmopolitan india.

    Well, you’re putting it pejoratively, but I’ll bite the bullet—Yes!! In fact, Yes.

  13. Moornam

    One of my Fraternity brothers has a really interesting family. His grandfather was Tamil and Bengali, he married a Burmese girl. They moved to Hawaii in the 50s or something, they had three boys. The boys married American, Canadian (my friend’s mom) and Danish, all “white”, respectively. And their kids span the melanin-content spectrum and some even have more “Asian” features (Burmese ancestry ya know) Now I know all this because I spent a thanksgiving with them, and one of my friend’s cousins actually was married and had a baby. So yea, great grandkids…

    Metal Mickey

    1. I in my personal experiences living in the midwest (consequently attending the Southside Parade religiously) and Australia, and browsing the interweb in general, have come across “St. Patty’s” said wrongly in so many contexts. After seeing your repeated efforts, I have now resolved to make it my life’s mission to correct all those people and publications so that they follow your spelling of their festival.
    2. Among the millions of Patricks in history, at least some of them were called Pat or Patty…At least the three Patrick O’somethings that I know are…I will tell them to spell their NICKnames approproiately…
    3. I will start a letter writing campaign to dictionray publishers, to correct their definition of “Paddy” to not include its offensive nature in certain contexts. Do you think it would be a good idea to start a facebook group in the same vein?
    4. Isure ‘am glad that you are being so vexed, and yet helping the acculturation of any un-assimilated DBDs with your constant correction of their reference to it as “St. Patty’s.” You haven’t been appropriately appreciated or accorded the tantamount portion of thanks that you deserve. Thanks to the information you have provided…Thank you, thank you!

    Now back to the topic shall we?

  14. I’m a first gen Canadian/South Asian and have lived in both, the US and Canada. My parents have always been liberal and accepting of other cultures. It was definitely harder to integrate with Americans than Canadians (who are far more respectful towards my culture–from my personal experience). And similarly, South Asians in Canada are also much more respectful of other cultures than those in the US

    The south asians in Vancouver are nothing like that. Many here thing there culture is the greatest ever and badmouth all other cultures and make no effort to intergrate.

  15. There’s a problem of Pakistani guys allegedly forcing white girls into prostitution.

    There also a problem of many pakistani men trying to convert sikh and hindu girls.

  16. Many heard the story about the punjabi girl who went to India and married a rickshaw driver and was killed by a hit squad hired by her own parents – and they were Canadian Sikhs – stuff which makes it so much harder as normal, non-fundamentalists (I’m more of an atheist).

    The girl was order killed by her uncle and mother and the scary part is that my house is only 20 minutes drive from there family home. The uncle owns a big blueberry farm and also help run one of the main gurdwaras in Vancouver yet he has not lost any business or standing in the community. Most of the community response is to blames shows like Dateline NBC for covering this story. Women rights groups have spoken out in the girl memory but almost nothing has been done by the punjabi sikh community.

    The Indian goverment has found the uncle and aunt gulity of ordering the murder and has arrest warrants for them. But many here believe the Canadian goverment is afraid of doing anything due to the uncle standing in the sikh community.

    There was also the murder of a 17 year old punjabi girl from sikh family in 2003 just outside of Vancouver by her father for having a white boyfriend. The funny thing is that the girl brother had a white girlfriend and didn’t care but had a double standard and we all know why that is. During the father trial, the whole rest of the family and community leaders including from the sikh temple spoke out about the father and he made a mistake, I don’t recall anybody speaking out for the girl and to this day nothing has been done to honor the girl memory.

  17. 317 · Suki Dillon said

    The south asians in Vancouver are nothing like that. Many here thing there culture is the greatest ever and badmouth all other cultures and make no effort to intergrate.

    Being from the Vancouver area – I don’t see how that is a correct observation. The young punjabis of the last 15 years that I have grown up around have no problems with ‘other cultures’ and don’t think their’s is “the greatest ever”.

    Sure you have some that are more fundamental in their religion, and think that if you’re a baptised Sikh that they may be more ‘Punjabi’ – but even they participate in regular society like everyone else.

    The South Asian population in Vancouver and Toronto is mainly Punjabi (moreso in Vancouver), and yes, they have certain communities, like in Surrey which are like little India, and there are a lot of new / newer immigrants there, but again – social patterns of these immigrants are no different than say the large Chinese / Hong Kong communities throughout Vancouver (ie, Richmond, BC). Apart from small pockets of non-secular mentalities, which exist everywhere there are immigrants – I really don’t understand the generalization of this comment.

    Hell, most of the kids I grew up with (and the kids still there) have been heavily influenced by hip hop and rap - that is definitely not an example of non-integration.

    So, take off you hoser, eh.

  18. But as someone stated earlier – culture is different from race or religion. I just find this so confounding though. Side note – always found it amusing back home in Vancouver when young brown guys would go around proclaiming how proud they were of being Punjabi and Sikh – declaring how hardcore they were as Jatts (quite a few up there) – found this ironic since, as mentioned, Sikhs are supposed to be caste-less.

    This is a lost cause and nothing will be done about this. The sad thing is that when it comes to browns/desi/south asians in North America, the punjabi’s of Vancouver are the rednecks of brown people and most of you who live in the United States would be in a culture shock if you want into the parts of the great Vancouver area like Surrey and Abbotsford where there are huge punjabi communities.

  19. 314 · cindy said

    also, demographically speaking, perhaps the indo-canadians are less ‘my kids are smarter than the white kids, they’re gonna be super-smart doctors!’ because it’s simply not as true in their case, i.e. canada has different immigration policies and therefore a more socioeconomically diverse south asian immigrant population

    Nope. This was in an upper middle class community where most individuals were professionals had at least a graduate degree. Peoples’ attitude was more like ‘my kids work hard and have the opportunity to work hard, that is why they’re successful’ as opposed to ‘our children are born smart and whilte kids have no values.’ People were a little more humble and a little less arrogant. But then again these are just my personal experiences.

    Also, I would think the US has a more diverse south asian community (socio-economically speaking) since it’s way more populated than Canada. There are large indian immigrant communities in places like NYC which are very different than what you would find in small-town America. And I would think there were more interracial marriages in the US as the population is way bigger than Canada.

    It’s not a question of drinking/premarital sex/ smoking pot/eating caviar (of all things) etc to be considered non-backward. To me it was little things–for example, like clothes. In the US women would be super hostile if they saw my mom in non-traditional (but conservative) clothes at the Hindu temple and openly glare at her, not call her to give offerings etc. These are women who had lived in the US for years and the way they behaved was so ridiculous. I’d call them the Hindu evangelicals. Similarly, there was a very tiny faction of Indians who were sick and tired of this kind of behavior and decided to completely stay away from most people in the community.

    In canada, people were a lot more open and a lot of women dressed in non-traditional clothing(this is at the Hindu temple). Some women were conservative but they didn’t judge others (at least publically). When the openly gay mayor of Winnipeg came to the temple, he brought his boyfriend along. Some old ladies were scandalized, but for the most part, he was welcomed. I just don’t see this happening in most Hindu temples in the US.

    My boyfriend is an Indian Indian and his upbringing would probably scandalize the US Indian community (part of the crazy evangelical south) I grew up in.

  20. 321 · Suki Dillon said

    This is a lost cause and nothing will be done about this. The sad thing is that when it comes to browns/desi/south asians in North America, the punjabi’s of Vancouver are the rednecks of brown people and most of you who live in the United States would be in a culture shock if you want into the parts of the great Vancouver area like Surrey and Abbotsford where there are huge punjabi communities.

    Seriously guy ? Where is this Punjabi hatred coming from ? Rednecks ? This article is about inclusion and open-mindedness, and yet you’re wasting your time insulting an entire community ? I grew up in those communities you speak of and I find that very insulting.

    Doesn’t seem you’d care since you seem to already have made up your mind. Nothing in my statement related to the entire Punjabi diaspora – please don’t speak for us or make statements insulting an entire community. You can’t take some bad elements and extrapolate it to everyone. This is what leads to intolerance and every Indian having to answer every ridiculous question asked of us as Indian Ambassadors.

    Let’s show some respect for one another.

  21. Nothing in my statement related to the entire Punjabi diaspora – please don’t speak for us or make statements insulting an entire community.

    When did I say the all punjabi dispora, I just said punjabi’s in Vancouver are not the most open minded compared to other punjabi’s in North America. Jaswinder Sidhu and Amandeep Atwal would be alive today if our community was more open minded.

  22. I have to agree with GurMando. The Punjabi community is very friendly and inclusive, for the most part. For example, everyone is invited to celebrate Vaisakhi, even the mostly white and christian politicians. You would never see that in most parts of the US where a lot of politicians, including the mayor of a city would go and take part with such enthusiasm, in a non-Christian celebration.

  23. Let’s show some respect for one another.

    The way many in the community have shown respect for my parents cause they didn’t stop from my sister from marring a Sri Lankan guy. I still to this day here comments from people from what bad parents I have.

    Also my cousin daughter is going to an Ivy League school in the Northeast, but yet most people in the community want to talk about is that she has a white boyfriend and how my cousin and his wife were bad parents.

    GurMando I am willing to debate you or anybody else who has a problem with what I say. I keep getting attacked again and again for speaking the truth.

  24. I seriously think maybe Suki Dhillon needs to start an SM Canada. Or maybe an SM for Suki’s favorite group, the apparently backward insular Punjabi-Sikh community of Vancouver, who are all a bunch of sexist, casteist hypocrites who will shoot you as soon as look at you. The constant “In Vancouver, people will shoot you for that” and “the Muslims are coming to convert your Sikh and Hindu daughters!” just throws the whole conversation off.

    For the record, by the way, I have Punjabi-Sikh-Canadian friends and family members who have married Jews, Muslims, black people, and white people, and everyone has adapted well and loves/respects their inter-cultural relationships. So, Suki and others, please.

  25. 324 · Suki Dillon said

    When did I say the all punjabi dispora, I just said punjabi’s in Vancouver are not the most open minded compared to other punjabi’s in North America. Jaswinder Sidhu and Amandeep Atwal would be alive today if our community was more open minded.

    You stated that Punjabis in Vancouver are the rednecks of the Indian community in North America – that is the diaspora I am referring to – the largest group outside of India of Punjabis.

    According to your sentiments, every single Punjabi in Vancouver was responsible for those deaths ? Yes, we like any newer immigrant community have issues with gender, religion and adaptation – but you are way off base with painting the entire community in a negative light.

    As stated earlier, sometimes those in new lands are more traditional than those in their homeland (not all, but some) – but you make it sound like every Punjabi in Vancouver is a Khalistani who beats their wife and has nothing to do with outsiders. I in no way am apologizing for the narrow-minded and old school mentalities that still exist, hell, when I grew up I hung out with more white kids until later in high school.

    The main principles of Sikhism are equality and respect – I don’t know any brown people in Vancouver who don’t have white friends or avoid participating in society – they contribute economically, culturally and politically (ie, Ujal Dosanjh).

    By your logic, every community is responsible for every death committed by its most extreme elements.

    In this day and age – we don’t need that type of mentality.

  26. 299 · kaizen said

    can’t say I know exactly how you feel but I’m glad you didn’t settle down

    Whats frustrating is, I feel like its a lose-lose situation for me. If I stay single and unmarried, my parents will probably die due to stress from my extended family. I see how hurt they look when aunties and uncles demand (somewhat jokingly but its serious) as to why they let me do what I want and stay unmarried. My mother mostly avoids going to weddings these days – because she gets hounded about me. I even thought about just fake-playing along just so they wouldn’t get so much pressure. If I did meet someone and got into a serious relationship I’m pretty damn positive that its going to be someone that my parents won’t accept – before anyone jumps on that comment, I’m just making that statement based purely on my track record :) . Not to mention, I’m pretty sure we’d be living together and probably heading toward a common-law type setup. My parents would not be accepting of that, not in a million years.

    Kind of ironic, but one reason why my most recent serious-looking relationship ended was because she was concerned that my parents would never accept her. Thats looking way, way into the future but that was important to her and the way she saw it – its a dealbreaker so lets call it off now than wait till later.

    In the past I’ve had girls get very upset because they knew that I never mentioned them to my parents. They felt like I was ‘hiding’ them and that it was because I wasn’t taking the relationship seriously. I guess if it had been a desi girl, she would have understood :)

  27. 329 · some west coast guy said

    <

    blockquote>299 · kaizen said

    <

    blockquote>

    Kind of ironic, but one reason why my most recent serious-looking relationship ended was because she was concerned that my parents would never accept her. Thats looking way, way into the future but that was important to her and the way she saw it – its a dealbreaker so lets call it off now than wait till later.
    In the past I’ve had girls get very upset because they knew that I never mentioned them to my parents. They felt like I was ‘hiding’ them and that it was because I wasn’t taking the relationship seriously. I guess if it had been a desi girl, she would have understood :)

    Curious – what was your response to her ? Did you try and salvage those relationships if you thought you could go all the way with her – would you have turned around and discussed it with your parents ?

    Or was just the cultural issue on her end enough to end it ? Appreciate your thoughts.

  28. According to your sentiments, every single Punjabi in Vancouver was responsible for those deaths ? Yes, we like any newer immigrant community have issues with gender, religion and adaptation – but you are way off base with painting the entire community in a negative light.

    Maybe I may have been too harsh, but when I see the way the community reacts to the murders of Jaswinder Sidhu and Amandeep Atwal is something the turned me off.

  29. 331 · Suki Dillon said

    Maybe I may have been too harsh, but when I see the way the community reacts to the murders of Jaswinder Sidhu and Amandeep Atwal is something the turned me off.

    I still don’t understand by you mean “the way the community reacts” – did everyone stand up and applaud and name the murderers as heroes ?

    If you listen to the many Punjabi radio stations and read the local papers – everyone was disgusted and appalled – no one supported or condoned any of it. There are many South Asian women’s groups and youth groups that do outreach and campaigning against this type of stuff. Do we have a long way to go – definitely – but no one condones that type of behavior.

    Now let’s get back to commenting on the original article PLEASE.

  30. Somewestguy- It must be a really tough situation for you to try and balance love with parents.In my case I balanced it by having a heart to heart with my parents but my parents originally never cared what society or community or uncle-aunty said. So maybe it was easier for me. I have a few friends who married non Indians.the parents of one of them were against the whole thing to begin with but few years have passed and now everybody is happy. Maybe you need intervention of a well meaning friend or even a family counsellor.Sometimes it helps to have an objective third party just listen and comment. Even if it was a desi girl you were dating ,I’m not sure what you’re parents expect so maybe she would’ve not be that understanding either.It is time for you to bring in some psychological perspective to deal with this.I would first start with what it is that your parents are afraid of where to marry/date a non desi. I know it’s easy for me to say but I’m pretty sure really talking to your parents will open some doors.

    Cindy -Like KA said drinking,living in, smoking pot are really not the signs of conservative or non conservative.I grew up in India and yes even I felt that I am a little less conservative than some ABDs I met in the US.A lot of that is to with the attitude. My upbringing,relationship that I have with my parents -they understand dating and its pitfalls and don’t pressure me to marry an Indian or non Indian.My parents have never left India and are constantly evolving with the times.

    Old MArty- what you said is not trite. I’ve arrived at a similar conclusion through my own experiences where my self esteem amd self worth are not tied to my looks,belongings or my background and will not be affected my whom I marry or date.

  31. 330 · GurMando said

    Curious – what was your response to her

    I told her babe, my own parents don’t accept me – fat chance they’ll accept a divorced, non-christian, non-desi! Call it being irrational if you want, but she wanted the whole nine-yards because she’d grown up in foster homes and also because she was treated like gold by her ex-husband’s family (even to this day, after their divorce).

    This wasn’t the primary reason we separated but it was important enough to her. It hurt but I just walked away, nothing I could do. Sure I could’ve told her that I’d do my damndest to make it work but I have enough of a strained relationship with my parents already. Bringing her into the mix would most definitely not change things for the better. You can call me a damn pessimist for saying that but its the plain facts.

    I think its quite accurate to say that majority of the aggravation is due to (and caused by) extended family – sometimes I wonder if my parents would be different without that external pressure. Is this a southern (kerala) thing or is it the same in other regions?

  32. 333 · kaizen said

    I would first start with what it is that your parents are afraid of where to marry/date a non desi. I know it’s easy for me to say but I’m pretty sure really talking to your parents will open some doors.

    I like your suggestions. In fact, I like them so much I did try them :) . Its possible I had the wrong approach but heres a major factor – my parents are highly religious protestants. I’m talking family morning/evening prayer with hymns and bible-reading (even on a sunday morning before we go to church…I should save that part for a book but what the heck). So nearly everything is wrapped in some religious-context. Want to have a discussion with them about marriage? Sure thing – its clearly explained in the bible, end of discussion. You get the idea. Sex before marriage. Oh boy.

    Some of you will find this amusing. So I had this great idea to pose a hypothetical question to my parents – did they ever consider the fact that I could be gay?

    My parents flipped. My mother swore she would get on a plane to come here (she hates flying) and take me to a psychiatrist. I had to swear to them that I wasn’t really gay. It was funny, but kind of in a tragic way. My older, (‘settled’) sister was like – are you nuts? You’re trying to beopen with them??

  33. 313 · minx said

    the unmarried situation is so bad, my mummy doesn’t even ask me if I am dating

    My dad once said that dating was ‘not part of our culture’. And people seem surprised to learn that back in high-school, I thought I was adopted lol

    PS Nice to see some other Seattle folks on here!

  34. 338 · Pagal_Aadmi_for_debauchery said

    GurMando: You seem to be new here so please dont take Sukidillon’s bait.

    dont shut suki down. he’s got a point. i keep bumping against dickheads out of brampton and peel region is steadily acquiring a rep as the murder capital of canada. thankfully the punjabi community is stepping up. and not sweeping it under the turban. dont know about vestern canada though.

    to stay on topic … how about some of those punjabie kudis try out the brown downtown. ahh…

    it gives me palpitations them shalwars all yellow, purple, red and green. but their pappajis with the big bellies and broken nose give me bad dreem.

    • khoof, the bard-ji of torontoo
  35. Metal Mickey

    1. I in my personal experiences living in the midwest (consequently attending the Southside Parade religiously) and Australia, and browsing the interweb in general, have come across “St. Patty’s” said wrongly in so many contexts. After seeing your repeated efforts, I have now resolved to make it my life’s mission to correct all those people and publications so that they follow your spelling of their festival.
    2. Among the millions of Patricks in history, at least some of them were called Pat or Patty…At least the three Patrick O’somethings that I know are…I will tell them to spell their NICKnames approproiately…
    3. I will start a letter writing campaign to dictionray publishers, to correct their definition of “Paddy” to not include its offensive nature in certain contexts. Do you think it would be a good idea to start a facebook group in the same vein?
    4. Isure ‘am glad that you are being so vexed, and yet helping the acculturation of any un-assimilated DBDs with your constant correction of their reference to it as “St. Patty’s.” You haven’t been appropriately appreciated or accorded the tantamount portion of thanks that you deserve. Thanks to the information you have provided…Thank you, thank you!

    Nice try, but the Midwest and Australia =/= Ireland. Also, AFAIK the root of ‘Patrick’ is Padraic/Padhraig so it makes sense. Considering the amount of desis who are up in arms when their name is mispronounced time and again I find it highly salient that you are so sensitive.

  36. to Suki at 326:

    “The way many in the community have shown respect for my parents cause they didn’t stop from my sister from marring a Sri Lankan guy. I still to this day here comments from people from what bad parents I have.”

    !!!

    So what other reactions have people had to interbrown marriages? Punjabi marries Tamilian? Malayalee with Nepali? Maldivian with Bihari? (And of course there is a good example of an interbrown relationship in Raakhee’s article.)

  37. 301 · GurMando said

    On the last note – we need to really get past this sense of ‘What the community thinks’. I know this is hard, especially for 1st and 2nd genners, but I have seen this weight over peoples heads (what will people think) lead to very bad situations; spousal abuse and worse, unhappy marraiges, etc – all in the name of ensuring we don’t look bad in other peoples’ eyes. This isn’t something that is distinct to Indians, but we’re pretty damn good at it. You have to make your own life decisions, and marrying outside your race is not a sin which needs to be scorned or looked down upon. It is hard enough finding someone who fits your life – even harder when you are trying to meet everyone else’s expectations. This is an old village mentality and we need to get over it – the funny thing is that the diaspora can be even more traditional or stringent than those back home in the motherland – but you can make a choice for yourself. If this is the real thing, you can work through it and it will be more than worth it.

    I agree with you to an extent but not to the point where you have absolutely on concern about what the community thinks, because at that point, there is no community. I believe you have to make your decisions, but you’re being extremely shortsighted without taking the opinions and views of those important to you AND how the community you are part of views your decision into consideration (because ultimately, it does affect you). no man or woman is an island (although, i’ve real hard to be one). Forgiveness, more understanding, more tolerance those are all worthy improvements for a community, but the promotion of selfishness and extreme individualism is not something I’d co-sign. A healthy dose of “what the community thinks” on the appropriate topics (career choices, success in life, etc.) is actually productive.

  38. 340 · metal mickey said

    Nice try, but the Midwest and Australia =/= Ireland. Also, AFAIK the root of ‘Patrick’ is Padraic/Padhraig so it makes sense. Considering the amount of desis who are up in arms when their name is mispronounced time and again I find it highly salient that you are so sensitive.

    I appreciate your acknowledgement of my effort and your swift dismissal of it. You continue to astonish me with your wealth of Gaelic knowledge, such as your immediate recollection of the etymology of “Patrick.” As someone who knows only the meaning of his name and his girlfriends’, I bow to your wisdom.

    As I mentioned earlier, my intellectual repository is miniscule compared to your vast repetoire of knowledge. Hence, I had to ask a friend whose work at the airforce requires an early morning duly accompanied by a facebook login. Unlike my inauthentic South Indian-Midwestern-AustraliaVisiting roots…he has some true claims to Irishness. He may not be as reliable a source as you, but his father was born and lived in Ireland early in his life and his uncles are in the Sinn Fein (and some in less reputable organizations than that). Incidentally, most of my knowledge of Ireland comes from spending parade days with his family by their porch on Western Av…so it is not authentic like your sources, but does have accompanying fond memories. So anyway, he said that it was the same deal and people said it both ways; I however made him commit to asking his parents or uncles about it – so when he gets back to me, I will use this forum again to continue this off-topic dialogue.

    My name is fairly easy to pronounce so I have never had a problem with it, but I do agree with you about those snooty desis who haughtily correct people about their names instead of anglicizing them. I wonder if Patricius corrected his people when the Irish converted his Latin name to Gaelic; of course, again this comes from me dabbling in Latin in college but I wish I had taken Gaelic Etymolgy like you…

    Up Next: You totally schooling me and all my Austria-German friends on why The Way of St. Jacob should be called The Way of St. Jacques or even more properly, The Way of St. James. Waiting for the a-whooping…

  39. I think a lot of what people do in dating and marriages comes down to the priorities they make in a relationship. The choice to marry within or without the community is exactly that – a choice – and one that should be respected no matter what. In the same way I don’t think I could ever marry someone very religious – I am barely agnostic by any standard – or who doesn’t at least lean in my direction of politics, I can understand why someone would choose to date or marry within their community for the sake of comfort or shared experiences even though that’s not the choice I’ve made.

    I’m a 25-year-old Indian-American (who wasn’t born in the United States and spent a lot of time growing up in the Caribbean) dating a white, cornfed Midwestern boy. Do I wish that he and I sometimes could reminisce about those ridiculous Diwali celebrations in the middle school gymnasium from my childhood? Sure. Am I glad he enjoys idli and sambhar as much as I do? Sure. Am I happy to have open-minded parents who truly could care less who I was dating but are happier to find out I’m not alone? Absolutely. There is no easy answer. In any relationship there are questions about compatibility and such. In the end, the only thing that matters is personal happiness.

    I have numerous examples in my immediate family that run the gamut of marriage – from an aunt who broke the out-marriage barrier in the 1970s (married not one, but two white men with her second marriage lasting 30 years) to a cousin in India who got divorced from her abusive arranged marriage husband only to find a better relationship that she initiated. The only lesson I’ve learned from this is that to each his own.

  40. 342 · deemz said

    <

    blockquote>301 · GurMando said

    I agree with you to an extent but not to the point where you have absolutely on concern about what the community thinks, because at that point, there is no community. I believe you have to make your decisions, but you’re being extremely shortsighted without taking the opinions and views of those important to you AND how the community you are part of views your decision into consideration (because ultimately, it does affect you). no man or woman is an island (although, i’ve real hard to be one). Forgiveness, more understanding, more tolerance those are all worthy improvements for a community, but the promotion of selfishness and extreme individualism is not something I’d co-sign. A healthy dose of “what the community thinks” on the appropriate topics (career choices, success in life, etc.) is actually productive.

    I agree on all of the positive aspects of living in a community / village – my point was more towards situations where people end up staying in very bad situations because of family pressure and more thought towards what other people will think rather than someone’s emotional or physical safety – more of a concern re: abuse than selfishness.

  41. Kishore Kumar said in his comment “Someone here pointed out that it’s easier for Desi women to marry/date outside than their male counterparts…you’ll see many a handsome non-Desi guy with a Desi girl who is, how shall I say it, simply not easy on the eyes. He might love her, and worship her, but I wonder if there isn’t that ‘ exotic ‘ factor lurking inside him somewhere. Good for them I say, but it’s an honest observation. And by unattractive I am not implying a certain shade of skin color. Please!”

    That’s because love is blind. And in some cases, it’s deaf and dumb too.

  42. In my last post, I was just being sarcastic obviously. There are so many different standards & ideas of beauty.

    I agree with many of the posters here who say who ever you choose as a marriage partner (or stay single, etc), just respect that person’s choice.

  43. In the US women would be super hostile if they saw my mom in non-traditional (but conservative) clothes at the Hindu temple and openly glare at her, not call her to give offerings etc. These are women who had lived in the US for years and the way they behaved was so ridiculous. I’d call them the Hindu evangelicals.

    What? Where? In the NY/NJ area there are so many different types of temples and you see all kinds of people attending them, including non brown folks. You could show up any way as long as it’s respectful and no one would even notice you there.

    Whats frustrating is, I feel like its a lose-lose situation for me. If I stay single and unmarried, my parents will probably die due to stress from my extended family. I see how hurt they look when aunties and uncles demand (somewhat jokingly but its serious) as to why they let me do what I want and stay unmarried. My mother mostly avoids going to weddings these days – because she gets hounded about me. I even thought about just fake-playing along just so they wouldn’t get so much pressure.

    At some point you have to stop making it your problem and allow it to be their problem. If you are single and not finding the right person you already have enough on your plate. Your parents can’t control your life for all intents and purposes since you are an adult. If they are making choices based on how “people” are behaving with them it’s THEIR problem and not yours. I know it sounds harsh, they are your parents but your parents have a choice to address these “people” or “cut them off”. They CHOOSE to be part of the community that is apparently treating them like shit. It boils down to what is more important…their own blood or some tom dick and harry at church who wouldn’t do shyt for them in their time of need.

    And your situation with wanting things a only a certain way…ife is too long and has a lot of complexities to have such rigid long term planning. How much power you allow them to exert on your life is your choice. At some point we have to grow up and embrace adulthood. If the situation you want isn’t going to make your parents happy anyway might as well make one person happy..yourself. However expecting a woman to live in hiding is a kiss of death to any relationship, marriage certificate or not.

    Personally from my own experience, all the drama that parents seem to exert majority of the time goes away when they see two people happy and grandkids etc. I have never seen a single set of parents disown and break away from the kids because of a choice in a significant other who was otherwise perfectly fine and normal but simply not “perfect” for the parents. And some of these parents were IMHO insane! Personally in my books if I had parents like that I’d be better off without them.

  44. In the US women would be super hostile if they saw my mom in non-traditional (but conservative) clothes at the Hindu temple and openly glare at her, not call her to give offerings etc. These are women who had lived in the US for years and the way they behaved was so ridiculous. I’d call them the Hindu evangelicals. What? Where? In the NY/NJ area there are so many different types of temples and you see all kinds of people attending them, including non brown folks. You could show up any way as long as it’s respectful and no one would even notice you there.

    Agreed… I haven’t found it to be like that in the South (where I’ve lived for twenty years), or really anywhere I’ve visited, either. Maybe this behavior is specific to that temple, or even to your parents’ social circle..

  45. 348 · Janeofalltrades said

    At some point you have to stop making it your problem and allow it to be their problem…. If they are making choices based on how “people” are behaving with them it’s THEIR problem and not yours.

    Agreed. A few years back, I decided to pretty much ‘give up’ on trying to fix the problem (for the same resasons you stated) and resigned myself to the fact that I can never experience a really close, tight-knit relationship with my parents. So for the most part, I’m estranged from all of my family. I’ve since tried to jettison all my years of built-up resentment and just do the things that I could to make them happy – visits, phone calls, letters, emails. I spent a large part of my twenties with my back turned to them, I don’t think that was a good choice.

    your parents have a choice to address these “people” or “cut them off”. They CHOOSE to be part of the community that is apparently treating them like shit

    I used to to think that too but is it that simple? Thats the community that my parents grew up with, its been an integral part of their lives. And most importantly, the “family/community is everything” meme is so deeply ingrained in them that I feel like they could never turn their back on not even a single family member.

    After my most recent visit, I joked with friends here about how my family feels almost like mafioso. Once you’re in, you’re in for life :P

    Btw, thanks for all the comments and also the replies.

  46. I’m pretty sure it’s the ultra-violence of your, err, shall I dignify it with the term “social set,” old egg, to wit:

    Spare us your condescension…I’ve spent a lot of time in the UK and the desi communtiy that SomeBodyUK is talking about are some of the most social, forthright, straightforward, honest, and simple (in a good way) people I’ve ever met. And very connected in an organic way to their culture. I’ll take that over the NYC desi finace/law/medicine crowd any day.

    Never heard of “stick and stones, etc.” what, what?

    Why shouldn’t they fight back?! Please get out of this ridiculous passive mentality. Anyway these are tough people (UK Sikhs) dealing with tough people (UK white racists). Some one with your attitude would just get bullied and take it all his life.