Growing up, I was always, in a way ashamed, of my culture because of the ridiculous stereotypes that came along with being south-Asian, so I never really wanted anything to do with being south-Asian. I remember my parents always trying to force me into listening to Hindi and Bengali music or fit me into traditional attire and I was having none of it. They would be so angry, that I was trying “so hard to become American”. Although they never understood that it was not because I wanted to become “American,” but rather, it was because I did not want anything to do with the stereotypes. To me, Hindi music was always something foreign because of the very different instruments and rhythm used. Not knowing Hindi was also a major setback because I had no idea what the singers were singing about. My parents used to play the core Bollywood classics like “Kal Ho Naa Ho” or “Tujhe Dekha Toh Yeh Jana Sanam” to the point where I have the words engraved in my brain but I have no idea what they meant.
After moving to Albany, and having a rough time adjusting to almost everything, my friends and I made plans to explore the area, to help me get settled and make memories in this new place. Since most of my friends were huge Bollywood fans, they would usually put on Hindi music in the car while we were out for long drives and that’s when I began to really appreciate the words. Over time, I began listening to Hindi music on my own and wearing traditional attire by my own choice. Today, I actually think I have far more Hindi favorites than English music to a point where I now introduce my parents to new Hindi songs.
There is something uncommonly beautiful about Bollywood films and music, the vibrant colours, the dances; and the language. Hindi has a way of wording things that cannot be translated to English without losing some of the depth of meaning which is something I have picked up on here and there. Since music is something that I really enjoy, something that helps to hold my memories, it was really easy for me to ease into my culture after I began to truly appreciate Hindi music.
Becoming comfortable with my culture gives me a connection that I feel like I did not have before, with my parents or friends from the same culture, because through our daily lives we live wearing American clothes, eating American food, to even making “American jokes,” but when gathering together for a festivity we wear brightly colourful clothing, eat extremely flavorful foods, and even the jokes become something special because their translations usually don’t make any sense to people outside of this circle; it gives me the ability to live two very different lives, parallel to each other.
Many times, parents force us into things we will sooner or later pick up at our own speed, just like I was able to grasp admiration for my culture, on my own time and I didn’t need years of torment. I fully understand that it is a common nightmare for many foreign parents living in the U.S. – that their children will not embrace their culture, but from my experience of going through years of schooling in the public school system, for many of us that is not the case. Culture is the first aspect students look into when starting to develop themselves and they eventually always admire something and hold onto it and grow from there.
My long term resolution is to work with my family so that they understand that I know that it is important for me to grasp our culture, but that I prefer to do it at my own pace so that I can fully understand it. Nothing needs to be forced. I am embracing something marvelous.
Check out my all-time favorite songs:
Please Note: The views of our student bloggers do not necessarily reflect the views of the UAlbany Advisement Services Center. These are their stories and their voices.
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