As most of you would have pieced it together by now, I am a 100% Indian who was born and brought up in the Middle East, currently living in Australia.
Fellow desis growing abroad would relate to the fact that parents try to inculcate culture in a variety of ways. For me, my parents spoke to us in Hindi/Urdu and took us to India during the summer vacations, dressed me in frocks and traditional dresses such as shalwaar kameez and lehengas rather than shirt and jeans (although that would be more a religious reason than cultural). My parents also taught us to respect elders and would rebuke us if we even joked about our teachers. We ate traditional dishes such as daal (lentil), curries and roti. We were taught to be accomodating to everyone’s tastes and to put everyone else’s needs before our own. We were taught not to talk bad about others even if they were younger to us and to not mock or ridicule anyone. We didn’t have television growing up, not because we couldn’t afford to but because my parents believed it would mature us earlier than usual.
Growing up in Dubai in the 90s, I saw like-minded selfless people who did not take the wrong meaning of what you said or did, where aunties mollycoddled you more than their children, where everyone helped each other out in anyway possible. No one had time for gossip, in fact no one cherished gossiping. Everyone cared for the betterment of others.
Cut to Australia and I not only experienced a cultural shock but psychological as well.To be honest it was latter more than the former. I mean I knew that there wouldn’t be as many desi families here than there. But even the small circle of desis that I have made here is vastly different than the group of people I grew up with. Everyone here is intent on building their own paradise. No one wants to advise or coach other’s children because they don’t want to build competition. No one wants to recommend “friends” for jobs because they don’t want to strain their own relationship with the boss.No one wants to help or give advise to anyone out of fear that the suggestion they give might be taken in the wrong way.
I used to be open-minded free thinker who gave out honest opinions as I wished. But I realised that not only people took double meanings out of it but they also later quoted me in the wrong context which used to infuriate me. I no longer speak as I please. I think thrice before I speak if I ever speak at all. What I have learnt is to keep mum at social situations.
Australia, as they say, is a land of opportunities. Too right they said. Here, I had the opportunity to get hurt. I had the opportunity to see people behind their masks. I had the opportunity to muffle my existence. I had the opportunity to grow up and meet the real world. Because Dubai was just a fairytale with its flowers of innocence and sweet gestures.
I am not attacking or eulogizing countries or generalizing its people. I am just ranting against the viewpoints and mindsets of people I have had the opportunity to get along with. Perhaps I am yet to meet selfless desis in Australia. Until then, I shall continue to be the selfless one.The way my parents raised me to be.
***Feature image via Google Image.