This one goes out to all of my Indian sistahs. It ain’t easy being us…
So I’ve been slowly coming to this realization that being Indian is sort of the “in thing” right now. The Mindy Project is like, everyone’s favorite show (including mine) and Miss USA is Indian (no guys, she’s not a terrorist) too. MIA made us brown girls look like bad girls. Yes, it’s awesome. But sometimes I’m just like really? Another Indian makes it big and I’m sitting in the basement of this dingy-ass library studying Human Values in Literature.
So I’ve decided to let my Indian voice be heard. What you see on TV or in movies isn’t always accurate. Often times it’s seriously over exaggerated. So let’s get real here. Today, I’m going to share some of my own (REAL LIFE) struggles with being an Indian girl. Uncandid. A little too honest. You know…the usual from me.
1. “Shaadi khab kar rahi hai” (translation: when are you getting married)
This weekend I was at home and on my way to G-wara (like a temple for Sikhs) with my parents and grandparents in the car. I was in the back, sandwiched between my mom and Dadi (grandmother), with our chunnis (those long scarf type things) brushing against each others arms. My Dadi whispers (in Hindi) “I have to ask you something…don’t get mad”. At this point I was really confused because whenever she’s prefaced anything in that way it was always “When is A going to propose to A” (basically when will my sister be engaged). Now that he has I was like oh god…what did I do. And then she dropped it. “Tu shaadi khab kar rahi hai”. THEN she says, “ek yah dho saal”, translation: one or two years? I was just like say wutttt?? I am twenty-one-years-old. I told her I had to at least find someone first and she said “Okay, tell me as soon as you do”. I just…can’t.
2. Masala jars
Yesterday, as I was having my life melt down, I decided to take a step back and watch Scandal in bed. My sister, A, advised me to get my chocolate on. Of course, I didn’t have chocolate in my apartment, so I settled for Candy Corn. I had put my Candy Corn in a jar to preserve it (although I’m sure that shit could sit out for months and still be preserved). As soon as I open the jar to get some o’ dat sweet, I was swimming in the scent of MASALA. Awwww man. This was a masala jar. And now my Candy Corn is kind of spicy. Great.
3. When your crush wants to FaceTime but you’re like dude…you can’t see me right now
Sometimes you really want to FaceTime with your boyfriend or that guy you’ve been “having a flirtation” (as my Boompapa would say) with. And he’s all like “Yo, let’s FaceTime” and you’re all like YO, there is tehl (oil) in my hair and a haldi mask on my face. I don’t care who you are. Unless you’re my blood relative, you will not see me with oil in my hair.
4. “I’m going home that weekend”
You already know it. There’s a huge party going on, or all your friends are headed out of town for a weekend trip. “Come on, you haveee to come.” “Oh…awk…I’m going home that weekend.” “Weren’t you just at home like two weeks ago?” OKAY. We’re Indian and we love our family. And also, I haven’t had a parantha in two weeks, so just let it go.
5. Christmas in India
I have to spend Christmas in India this year. And that is the goddamn worst thing ever. Not only am I going to be sweating in humid 80+ degrees. But I will not get a traditional Christmas meal and I will not get to see pretty lights or decorated trees. Christmas music will be at a minimum or have a desi twist on it and I’m just not about that life. Also, I probably won’t get presents because my parents will be all like “hello, this trip was so expensive and buying all these clothes for your sister’s wedding is pricy AF”. And I can totally see that. It is reasonable and understandable. But it sucks.
6. If you can’t dance…you’re a bust
Thank the lucky stars I can dance. Because I see those kids that just can’t, and most of the time they’re still forced to take part in dances at weddings or functions and you’re just like leave the poor girl alone. I’m sure she’s stellar at science or something…just let her study instead. You can’t have it all! Tune deaf girls, you’re welcome when the dance floor is open, but my advice is, stay away from the solo-dances. Because those Indian auntys (who I’ve decided are the original basic betches) are going to be talking about you and your two left feet for years to come.
7. If you’re not a doctor, lawyer, or i-banker…you’re a bust
Okay. I want to preface this by saying that my parents are SUPER cool and not at all the stereotypical, strict, old-fashioned Indian parents. They’re very very understanding and do whatever they can to make me happy. But here’s a conversation my mom and I had this past weekend. Mom: “I just don’t want you to waste your intelligence…you’re soo smart” Me: “Mom. Not everyone who is smart goes to Law School. You can be smart and not go to Law School.” At this point she cracked up laughing, realizing what she said was soo silly. But this stereotype is true. Indian parents will love you more if you’re a doctor, lawyer, or i-banker. Hahah, just kidding. Maybe. Who knows?
8. “Your butt is showing”
My dad is notorious for this. If my shirt raises even a centimeter, and a centimeter of MY BACK shows, I get the “your butt is hanging out”. My back and butt are two very different things!!
9. Will I be a good mom?
I see all these Indian moms and I’m just like holy shit, I can’t have kids. I don’t even know how to make chai yet. How am I going to hold a family together? Any Indian will tell you that food and chai holds a family together. And if I can’t make either…what am I going to do? And if everyone is expecting me to be as good of a cook as my mom is…let me try to let you down as fast as possible. I will never, ever, be able to cook like that.
You’re telling me that in order to be seen as a feminine, successful woman, I need to know how to make an outfit out of 9 yards of fabric? Like…I’m just supposed to know exactly how to wrap and fold this large piece of cloth around me and look stunning and prestigious? Do you realize how ridiculous that even sounds? Seriously, expectations for us Indian women are way too high.
Aka, henna. So, a few things on this. One, I don’t know how some girls are like “I loveee the smell of mehndi”. Home girl, blow your nose. That shit is STANK. I can’t stand when I have to wear it. And anytime I touch my face the smell comes back and I just can’t win. Not to mention for hours I can’t go to the bathroom, eat, or text. Please. It’s the 21st century, how is there not an Insta-dry formula yet? And then white people are all like “oh my god, that is like so pretty.” No it’s not. In two weeks I’m just going to look like I have some weird skin disease. I hate mehndi.
12. Fair and lovely or tan and exotic?
I’m literally always caught between the American struggle to tan and the Indian struggle to stay fair. All the auntys will like freak out and be like you girls are soo fair and then my white friends will like like “LOL you’re paler than I am.” How do I win this battle? If my family in India found out that I sometimes spray tan…oh god.
13. When you realize dancing in the rain isn’t as fun and romantic as it seems
Yeah, I’ve been there. Let me just go dance in the rain because today’s been a good day and that’s what everyone in Bollywood does when they have a good day. Okay, no. How is it that I end up muddy, shivering, and uncomfortable while Sonali Bendre is just like rolling in grass still looking gorgeous and happy? Like not once in Sarfarosh did she seem unhappy in the rain. Maybe it’s because she was with Aamir Khan. I don’t know, but if you haven’t already lived through the horror, let me save you by telling you not to even try it.
14. Bollywood in general
Bollywood really damages us Indian girls. First off, it gives us unrealisitic expectations. It forces me to try to live up to Deepika Padukone. It compels me to try to find my real life Arjun Rampal (he’s so underrated). And then once I reach Deepika status and find my own Arjun, I have this insane expectation that our love story will live up to Raj and Simran’s from DDLJ. That is just a lot of pressure for me. Additionally, I think Bollywood has made me overly emotional. I don’t even remember the last time I saw a Hindi movie and didn’t cry to the point of shaking. And yet I still can’t stop watching.
15. Staying up-to-date
Okay. As a Hindu Punjabi born and raised in the US, I have to keep up on English music, Hindi music, AND Punjabi music. Guys. That is really hard. English and Hindi I’m usually pretty okay with. But today I was listening to Punjabi music and all my remixes started with some brown rapper saying “2003”. Two thousand three. I’ve asked so many of my Punjabi friends for a little help in this department and have clearly come up with nothing since 2003. Help a sistah out, guys. This isn’t okay. I’m actually really embarrassed by this.
If you choose to not have janky, goofy colored braces, you know just how real this struggle is. Haldi is way too much to deal with. All up in your nails, braces, your face (in face mask form, of course), and sometimes in your milk when your parents swear it can get rid of your cold. I recently read an article that was going on and on about the benefits of Haldi (I don’t even know what it’s called in English…fob status) and I was like welp, good thing I’ve been force feed it and had it rubbed on me since age two.
17. Having to ward off creepy Indian guys that literally propose to you at a bar
No explanation necessary. Actually, wait. Just one. YOU ARE PROPOSING TO ME WITHOUT A RING…
So, I know I’ve just complained and bashed on being Indian a lot in this post. And I could probably extend this list far beyond 100. But the truth is that I love being Indian. I always tell my mom, life would be so boring if we weren’t Indian. It really would. It’s a huge defining aspect of my life and I would have it no other way.
So, as my family and I say, Hari Om, Stay Gold ladies. Keep it real and be proud that you survive the above mentioned struggles and still have a chance at winning every single beauty pageant in the universe.