Indian American | Teen Ink

Indian American

June 13, 2019
By Anonymous

Who Am I?

The tunnel was hot. Really hot. As I walked through, the heat seemed to press upon by face, wrapping around my limbs like a hot-blooded serpent. Contracting and gripping onto my body with every step. Drops of sweat tumbled down from the pool of water that formed around my forehead. With every step came the desire to go back to the oasis in the beginning of the tunnel. When I finally reached the end, I stepped foot on to the airport and my destination, India.

This uncomfortable feeling seemed to only heighten as I left the airport. Upon arriving at my grandparents house, I felt the eyes of many peering into my car. It was as if I was a bright spot on a dark sheet. Everyone seemed to know that I didn’t belong. Everyone knew that I was not truly part of this town. This feeling was confirmed when I meet some of my family, friends and neighbors. The first thing anyone ever asked me was, “How is it in America.” Asking questions about school, my house, activities, etc. In doing so, they viewed me through every American stereotype, questioning my knowledge on Indian culture.

One day when my grandfather and I were eating at a restaurant, one man stopped in front of me and started laughing. At first I was confused because all I was doing was holding a spoon. Once all the attention was centered around me, everyone in the room started laughing. My grandfather explained to me that in India, many people do not eat with utensils, but with there hands. This idea seemed disgusting to me, so I continued to eat with the spoon and the laughing just seemed to continue.

This ridicule became a  constant problem during my trip. When they played cricket, I played it like it was baseball. When they played Indian music, I played American music. When they watched Indian movies, I watched American movies. This distinction between me and the people in the town, caused me to stay in my house a lot. My grandparents home was unlike any other home in the town. It was a Florida style one-story house, with a white picket fence and a swimming pool. While all the other houses in town, were designed with more traditional Indian architecture, my house was more American. In being this way, I stayed at my grandparents house more often because it reminded me of my home in New York

At the time, I was baffled by the irony of the situation. During the beginning of the trip, I believed that I was going to be able to fit in. In America, everyone identifies me as Indian. By putting me in this box, I have learned to accept my Indian heritage.  However in India, everyone viewed me as American, which shocked me because I always considered myself to be involved in Indian culture. However once in India, I started to realize that I really didn’t know anything about my own heritage. I just accepted the Indian stereotypes and claimed it as my own. Thus I was more submerged into American culture than Indian culture. In some ways, this realization made me feel lonely and isolated as it seemed that neither world would want to accept me. To Americans I am Indian, but to Indians am American.

The author's comments:

Its me

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