Posts Tagged ‘London’

Indian Values in NRI Children

October 3, 2012

Recently, my husband and I were having dinner with one of our closest NRI couple friends here in Birmingham. Both of us couples are at a stage where we have young children. Our conversation that evening revolved around our children. That’s when we realized that our kids, unintentionally, were growing up with a slightly skewed sense of cultural identity.

 

Having been born abroad, but being of Indian origin, they were neither British, nor completely Indian. This is something our generation never faced, because most of us settled abroad after college, thus our identities were very entrenched in a quintessential Indianness.

 

Having been born and brought up in India we were very Indian. But the same could not be said for our kids. And this troubled us a bit. Not because we had a problem with them being British in their thoughts and value systems, but because they were neither here, nor there. Then we decided that instead of talking, we would do something about it. And we realized that the only way of instilling this sense of Indian belonging, was by exposing the children to India. And this would need more than the one 10 day annual vacation with their grandparents in India. So we came up with some possible solutions. I’d like to share these with you and all the NRI parents out there.

 

1.      Boarding School – One thought we had was to send the children to boarding school in India. By spending a majority of the year, year after year in India, among the country, its people and families there; would definitely instill some Indian values.

2.      Entire Vacations In India – Rather than the 10 days being spent in India as visitors, tourists really; sending the kids to say their grandparents, or relatives, or close family friends in India for the entire duration of say one summer vacation, would be a lot more substantial.

3.      Cultural Orientation – It comes very easily to us NRI parents to say our kids are like foreigners. Well, charity, and education, begins at home. And we decided that we would actively involve our kids, even when they’d be at home with us abroad, in more Indian things. Films, music, festivals, everything

 

At the end of the day, our parents are growing old and won’t be with us forever. And for us to want our kids to have an Indian ethos, it is our responsibility… because we are their last link to India. My husband and I have started making a concerted effort in this direction, and already we can see our children developing a healthy and well informed cultural identity. And we can only urge you to do the same. After all, we should be proud to be Indian!

 

Comfort Food

September 26, 2012

 

Food is such an important and integral part of our identities, but we tend to take it for granted. I was recently at a fundraiser from my office in London and to my utter and rather pleasant surprise the food theme for the evening was ‘Chaat’. Yes, good old Indian Chaat! Dipping my fingers into that ‘pattal’ of dahi-puri, standing in this posh London hotel, I was transported to the chaat stands of Lajpat Nagar, where I spent so many delightful afternoons and evenings through my childhood in Delhi. Inexpensive, yummy, comfort food; typically Delhi, typically Indian, and very nostalgic!

 

That evening I realized that living abroad we hanker after everything Western. NRIs, like always, have this hidden desire to fit in. Often this desperate need to fit in makes us divorce what is so much a part of our beings. And good old Indian comfort food is one such thing that goes out the window making way for, although yummy, Western food but food that doesn’t really have an emotional, sentimental and cultural connect with us.

After that fundraiser I came home and told my wife that we would make each Sunday a day dedicated to all our Indian childhood favorite foods. We have put that tradition into practice ever since. Not only has it brought us great food, it has also brought back the best memories of our childhoods which has bonded us once again with our home country, our families and our young children with whom we can now enjoy a genuine slice of Indian culture. All this thanks to the mouthwatering Indian comfort food treats that we prepare religiously each weekend. There is nothing quite like the comforting warm feeling of familiar childhood hits!


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