“So, where are you from? No, I mean what country? No, why are you brown?”- a flow of questions that often follows the meeting of someone with just a hint of international descent in the UK.
As a British-Indian woman that meets many new people on a day-to-day basis, it’s often become a routine having to explain my family heritage and the fact that I was born in London and not India. Now, questions are welcome and the interest to know more about my family is perfectly fine, however just a “Hey, how are you?” will suffice.
Growing up with duo cultures and customs is a unique and special experience. The customs of a British school and expectations of an Indian family crosses over into new territory that very few generations come to know. I’m grateful to live in a country where cultures from all walks of life can cross over into each other’s worlds and plant roots for a better future.
For many first and second-generation Indians their is confusion (about what is acceptable, what is cool and what are my rights?) and life in Britain can often be a learning curb that is figured out along the way. With many friends and family that endure the tight grip of over protective parents, and are battling with a want to experience a western lifestyle, it’s apparent that finding the balance to please both is increasingly difficult.
The traditional Indian lifestyle for women consists of good grades, good house keeping, a good husband and a good life. But, what if life isn’t just about being good? What if these British-Indian, Pakistani, Asian young adults want to experience excitement, laughter, sadness, worry, triumph and moments of epic proportion? A constant struggle between cultures can often see that simple social etiquette is broken or the lines of what’s acceptable is blurred, from both sides.
So the next time one meets an individual of international decent, a simple “how are you?” would be amazing to hear.
Words: Dilpreet Taak