May 24, 2000
I have to admit, I've visited some incredible places over the past year-and-a-half on this world trek, but the whole time I've been counting down the months until we finally reached India. And to make my time here even better, my older sister, Pramila, is here too, so, for the first time in our lives, we're getting a chance to explore together this country that our ancestors came from!
Sure, I was born in America, but my roots are 100% Indian. My parents always tried to raise me and my sister with a great deal of respect for India and the large family traditions we come from. Every time I get a chance to visit India, I gain a whole new appreciation for the rich culture of this diverse and beautiful country.
There are also some beautiful temples that are restricted to foreign tourists, but which I can get in to with no problem. I can usually manage to save a lot of money, since shop vendors and rickshaw drivers often hike up their prices a great deal to try to cheat foreign tourists. As long as I don't say too much, they usually will give me the local price before they realize that I don't talk or act like a local!
But there are disadvantages to being a foreigner of Indian origin traveling in India. For example, even when we wear Indian clothes, my sister and I don't exactly blend into a crowd. Instead, we elicit a more penetrating stare, full of more curiosity than other westerners get. People look at us and get confused! I can just imagine what's going through their heads: "They look Indian, but have such funny habits," or, "They act just as the foreigners do."
We have come to realize that indeed we are American, whatever that means. America is a relatively young country compared to India, with thousands and thousands of years of history. And because it is so relatively new and made up of people from all over the world, it does not have the firm traditions and culture India has. In India, there are certain ways one is expected to act or live, and it is very rare for someone to act outside of this norm. In America on the other hand, you can find people of all types living in very different ways.
My sister and I discovered early in our lives that, when we come to India, we can either dress Indian and try to act just like our cousins do, or we can live with all the gawking stares and be ourselves. We opted to be ourselves…which isn't always the easiest choice. But hey, at least we're thankful to have a choice!
p.s. - Please e-mail me at ...email@example.com
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