Friday, June 12, 2009

Bed tea (Ugh!) or hand feeding today?

So I woke early this morning and decided to blow off going to the 5 AM Spin class and 6 AM BootCamp Class and just sat on the couch with my laptop and a cup of chai (no sugar, small concession to no excercise). Will I go to my kick boxing class at 10 AM? Probably not. You see I have a birthday barbeque on the weekend to get ready for. Daughter and Son both had birthdays last week. Like all law abiding American families we reserve all celebrations for the weekend...hehehehehe.

The husband and kids are still sleeping. The house is silent. I can hear the incessant drippy rain. In the dawn light, my plants look sad and drowned. Even the deer that come into the backyard to forage at dawn, looked sad eyed and rain soaked. Sitting here contemplating life and reading blogs. Its been a while!

I read a lot of blogs by men and women in mixed cultural marriages. Desi/desi, desi/nondesi, nondesi/nondesi... the gamut... because I am in a culturally mixed marriage myself. It is very interesting to me, to see how others order and organise thier mixed marriages and lives. There are some blogs by expat men and women who make thier life in India, some of whom are married to desis. It is an eyeopener to read thier thoughts.

You see, I always wonder how my own non desi husband views and experiences desi culture. He can try and explain it to me (Hindi sounds phonetically gutteral to him... HUH?) but there is no way that I will ever see it the way he does. My views are colored by own experience of desi culture. I can never experience seeing my culture through western eyes, never mind how long I live in the west. I would have to negate my entire childhood, and existing ties in India to do that. Do you see why reading these expat blogs is so interesting to me?

There are any number of outstanding blogs in this category. Sharell has a really good one. Do read it.

Anyway, I read an blogpost on this blog about "handfeeding a son". There were many interesting comments all of which must be considered for the cultural context of the commentors. Some very good points were made. A thought provoking post. I have thought long and hard about this one for a very long time. It affects me in very fundamental ways because it says something about where we are as Indian women and where we hope to be in an ever changing world.

Here was my comment on that blogpost. Go on tell me what you think.

"Tradition bound Indian women have had very little decision making power in thier own households especially since they usually also live with thier own traditional inlaws.

The only power they have is perhaps over thier own children and they sure do weild that power robustly. Thier sons have also traditionally been thier long term care insurance. What better way to make sure that insurance is active and well, than to bind the child to them with shows of affection and pampering… hand feeding is just one the symptoms. An overt show of affection. It is something that has become an essential part of the fabric of a traditional Indian womans life. Are the sons totally to blame for becoming despotic, lazy gits? Not entirely. It is a product of thier memories and traditions. It is culture.

Personally I dont expect Indian men to conform to what western men do, when in the Indian cultural context… if they are a product of and still live in that environment. I know that my own mother would like it, if my husband lay around and was subjected to overt displays of fawning attention by me and her… as wife and motherinlaw… when he visits India. However he aint getting any of that buster! Because thats not the way my own household works.

Does all this annoy me? Sure it does, it makes me crazy because I know and have experienced the alternate reality. Is it unfair to expect a woman to labor for a lazy git? Ofcourse it is. However I cannot expect people who have never even imagined another way of life to conform to my expectations of behavior. They will all learn for themselves when thier own shoes bite. It will happen… in centuries perhaps, but change is inevitable.

In the big scheme of things, hand feeding a son, or making him chai (I hate that bed tea thing … stinky breath) is small potatoes, compared to being able to make decisions about killing or keeping thier female children and having access to healthcare and being treated humanely when widowed. If my son will support me in these endevours, I will hand feed you for life and make you a million cups of tea. Those are the real choices many, many Indian women face."


neeraj_only said...

Good to read 'chammak challo' after short interval....hehe

waw! early morning blog entry. It's easy to find you online in morning :p

your take on indian mothers is so good ( you rock with your style ). Things are changing... a la west.

change is slow here....moving elephant.

P.s : please don't ignore your blog....kuch kuch masala apne readers ke liye likhte rahiye.

Renu said...

excellent post and so real:) but the scenario is changing. leave aside me, my son even doesnt want his wife to fuss over him saying that he can take care of himeself:)

Videsi said...

I added that what appears to be accessive displays of physical affection between mother and son in India is a sort of projection due to the fact that the same type of affection shown between lovers or spouses in public or even in front of family is considered inappropriate.

It took me a while to get used to the level of intimacy which I felt bordered on the romantic between Indian moms and their sons. They behaved in a manner I was more used to seeing between couples. At the same time I saw so little affection between spouses in India, so my conclusion was that the son acts as a sort of surrogate romantic partner for the desi woman.

Not in a sexual way mind you, but still nevertheless.

Its interesting how you say you can't view the culture you grew up in through the eyes of the culture you find yourself in now.

I'm actually finding it impossible to turn off the commentary (in my head) of BOTH my cultures when viewing both.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

OK OK, i am impresses with you being "law abiding American families"...humm, I lived for 5 years in UK, but never felt myself truly at home. There is no place like my DES, and i shall ever miss it.NICE BLOG AND NICE PICTURES:))))

bawa said...

I don't know about mixed-marriage. I am in one myself, but it has not really felt like it, at least its never been much of an issue. Nobody changed religions or anything like that.

But then in my own family women have always run all the everyday affairs and managed the monies (this is in India). Entire pay went straight to Mum with Dad keeping some pocket-money and never questioned how, when and where the rest of it went. All uncles and aunts were the same.

roop said...

arent we glad though that things are changing!!

well written.

Another Kiran In NYC said...

So true, a slow moving elephant. But its moving!

You obviously did a great job with your kids!

Maybe I cannot multitask well enough. I can see only one side clearly. The other is present but I am looking at it from the corner of my eye and thru the prism of my own experience.

This is where my heart is (husband and children). This is where I make my home. If I dont make myself comfortable here, I will be useless to myself and my loved ones. It will be a life half lived.

Your point well taken. I am talking about the vast majority of women in India, the ones who dont have access to a blog, or even clean water and toilets, the ones who we dont usually think about.

I am glad things are moving ... albeit slowly.