18

New and Fresh as a Desi

*Desi = Colloquial word for someone from the Indian sub-continent.

I was transferring some pictures to my hard drive last night, and I felt like visiting those days back. Oh boy! I could see how my weight and roundness of my face has fluctuated from 2009 to 2018. I saw so many clothes in my pictures that have been donated away, that I loved, that I hated. I wore flared jeans! Of course the xBF featured prominently and so did Abhi, and I felt pangs of intense nostalgia and some pain(of totally different kinds).

There is a certain charm about coming to the US for the first time as a naive student. This extends to going anywhere abroad, but I speak for ‘Murica because, ah well, I came here. The first few days are very interesting when you figure out how everything is exact opposite to India, how quiet the cities and towns are, and how your clothes stand out in a very stripey-collared-shirts way. I remembered how starry eyed I was when I landed in San Diego! It was, just, so different! And eventually I realized that it is way different from any other city in the USA also. Free, liberal, culturally open, and so hippie! It was like breathing in a different, fresher kind of air, but with the same essence that Pune had. Those were exciting times. Trying to learn how to live alone, and navigating through intense emotional drama, and then feeling the first flutters of infatuation post India days.

I made my first non-Indian friend on the very first day of class, who is still one of my closest friends. The group from school(lab and associated friends) has stuck together through Thursday game nights, brewery sessions, camping weekends, dance nights, and now wedding shenanigans. They were my true representation of the whole ‘SDSU being a party school’ thing. I still get asked if I studied anything because of SDSU’s reputation and my answer has 3 points. 1. I was in grad school. 2. My major was Mechanical Engineering. 3. I am a true and highly stereotypical Desi. NOBODY invited us! I totally exaggerate. I had a lot of firsts with these guys that I can never forget, and they make sure that I don’t!

Yet, at every point, I felt that I did not fit. I just didnt mix in, and I still feel the same. With my nutty behavior, an accent where asking for water is a royal pain, my forever confused sense of style, overly frizzy hair, stuff that blurts out from my mouth, I still feel that I stand out as super Desi. But that IS the best part! I get to stand out! I still have a sense of belonging to my country and culture, while learning something new everyday about different countries. I get to retain my Desi-ness while I continue my explorations. How many people from other countries can say that?! And how many people from India can claim to call two countries home? We are the lot that gets the best of both the worlds! In my best buddy Adam’s exact words, I am weird and basic as hell, but yet they love me!

Cultural assimilation is a beautiful thing, but so is, standing out. Here’s a toast to all the self described nuts who feel like they belong, even when they don’t! Let the paradox live and thrive!

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33

Stereotypical me…

It is very easy to generalize characteristics about genders. We just assume the boys and girls we meet, to be a part of the particular stereotype that we have always thought they would follow. A lot of people hate that. I myself feel very proud of breaking certain stereotypes when it comes to family, customs, education, etc. The other day at a house party, a girl told me that she loved talking to me, and felt proud that I was doing something different than what girls are normally supposed to be pursuing for their careers. She was happy that I had taken the path less traveled. There are TWO female engineers in my entire company. A lot of people who know me say that I am a very girly girl, and doing a Masters in Thermal and Fluid Sciences is pretty bad ass for me. Heck, a lot of people did not even think that MS would be a good idea for me. My college roommate and a very close friend had told me, not in the nicest way, that she just doesn’t see me going into the technical side. This was 6 years back. How I have loved breaking perceptions!

My parents break certain stereotypes every day. They married when my father and mother were 35 and 28 respectively. They had me and decided that was it. An only girl, was very rare for those times. My education was always the most important goal for them and they have supported and encouraged me to give my best throughout. My mother tends to fall into the vicious cycle of comparisons and disappointments, but my father stands strong for me. My marriage is not the most burning issue in our lives, but my emotional, physical and financial stability is. That is how it should be. You have read about my father’s views in the Guest Post he had written for my blog.

I came across this new matrimonial site called trulymadly.com which made me think a bit.

But, just for kicks, I want to think about how stereotypes can exist and pretty vividly. I have many signs to show that I am an only child. I have so many symptoms of a kid who got bullied in school. I have most of the characteristics of being a GIRL! So, I want to list down some of the stereotypes that I fulfill, of being a girl, or a Desi at heart, or a new graduate in her twenties.

  1. I love the color pink.
  2. I love new and pretty clothes.
  3. I want to be a part of the corporate rat race and do well.
  4. I was a part of the class rat race, and did alright at the end.
  5. I am an ‘NRI’ and I do like USA, India, heck, all countries. I have become more patriotic and vocal about India, after coming here.
  6. I have fat glasses, and I do watch a ton of TV and read a lot. So according to all aunties, that is the reason I have glasses.
  7. I was never athletic. I am the girly, arty, poetic, music and dance kinds.
  8. Every time I come back from India, I get two bags full of nashta and spices.
  9. Every time I go and visit home in India, I take tons of lotions and perfumes. 😀
  10. I flirt. Quite a bit. Twirling my hair, batting my eyelids and all that. Well, depends on the audience.
  11. I cry when I see anything cute. Like, YouTube videos of puppies and kittens. Not babies. I cry during most movies.
  12. I bitch and gossip.
  13. I am a freebie and sale lover.
  14. I am very touristy, along with loving traveling.
  15. I am mortally afraid of creepy crawlies.