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Thursday, May 28, 2015

Don't Indianize me...

My friend Alexandra from the blog "Madh Mama" just wrote an excellent piece about loosing yourself in your spouse culture, that you all must read. This is something people who are in intercultural relationships, women in particular can all relate to.
The interesting thing, is that very topic has been on my mind a lot over the past few weeks. Mostly because some people keep thinking that just because I married an Indian man, I MUST do my damnest to be as Indian as possible. A lady I met recently even assumed that because I delegate the tiffin box cooking to my maid, it means I don't know how to cook Indian food. After 11 years in the country, that wears really thin. Nobody questions an Indian woman for having help in the kitchen.
What's more, it seems that some people are only really interested in how Indian a foreigner is in India. When ironically, the Indian diaspora abroad is known to cling to their own cultural values and work hard recreating a mini-India wherever they go.
In brief, if you are Indian abroad, you need to stay as Indian as possible. But, foreigners living in India are to adapt to India and if possible become more Indian than Indians.
I don't know about you, but how twisted is that? To be frank, I don't mind when people from India hold to their cultural heritage abroad. I never felt the urge to go and ask them "So do you cook western dishes?" Or ask a saree clad lady "Have you ever tried to wear jeans" or "Why do you not celebrate Christmas?".
Yet, I get asked these reverse questions ALL the time : "Do you cook Indian?" If it is not plain old "Can you cook?".
"Do you like to wear sarees, or salwaar suits" or "Why don't you do Puja for Indian festivals?".
With the added bonus questions related to parenting since I have a child.
Basically I am on perpetual interview that will help whoever asks determine how much I belong. Often as per standards that do not even apply to the modern urban dwelling Indian woman of my generation.
In many ways, the message that seem to transpire is that the West is less good, than India. The West is not worth learning about, just good enough to make big bucks and returning home. Foreigners that left the West probably did because they were having a crappy life and looking for a cultural upgrade.
This is sadly not even close from the truth. India is just not used to be a land of immigration. But, expats are coming to India, not just for love, not just for the ashrams, yoga and spiritual fix. There is a solid percentage of people that come here to work, on short to medium term assignments. Because they got sent by their company abroad to India. Just like Indians get sent abroad by theirs.
Some, will only work there a couple of years. Some will hang around longer. Some will get to know their soul mate in India, get married and stick around for life. We are a world that is going global, these scenarios will happen more and more.
After living in India for over a decade, let me tell you were I stand. I married my husband for him, not his nationality, not his culture. He loves me for who I am, and I love him for who he is. For all I care, he could come from another planet. I did marry the man, not his culture. His culture is part of the package but it is not all of it. If DH wanted a perfect Indian woman who dresses Indian, cooks Indian, breathe Indian and behaves an archaic form of Indian he would have married one.
He didn't, so how ironic is it that people assume I must turn Indian to be perfect and a good wife? My choices clearly don't matter, but apparently neither do his.
When it comes to our daughter, there is that expectation from those who don't know any better that she needs to be Indian and that it is my job to ensure that.
Well no offence, but I did. I grunted and screamed and pushed her out of my birth canal on Indian soil, and her father is an Indian national that ensured she has herself an Indian passport. So, do not worry about her being Indian, because she is. Her papers say so. She goes to school in India, she is surrounded by Indian culture in her daily life. So, please don't tell me that just because I decide to feed her Swiss cheese and continental dishes I am insulting her heritage.
The way I see it she is half and half, and it is not my job to teach her about Indian culture. My half of the heritage matter as much as the other half.
I married an Indian, but I am not Indian. I made India my home, just like many Indians made the US or Europe theirs, complete with their cultural baggage. So, don't Indianize me against my will. This is neither fair nor respectful to anybody.
Being a world citizen means you take from many culture, and blend them. It makes one a richer person, in every ways.
Just look at me. I can cook Indian food as well as I do continental cuisine. I'm not bad at cooking Chinese and pan Asian dishes either. I know how to eat with a fork and knife, my hands and chopsticks. I know how to say Thank you in quite a few languages because my parents told me if one must learn only one word in a foreign language it must be this one. I can wrap a saree and know how to wear an evening dress. I know which dress code applies where in both European situation as well as Indian ones. I know how to prep my home for both Diwali and Christmas and how to be a good hostess to Indian guests and Western guests alike. I travelled a lot as a kid and teenager and got exposed to a lot of different cultures early.
Those who choose to see me for who I am, know these things, and love me for them, and this is the vast majority I am talking about. If all you are interested in is my degree of Indianess you are missing a whole lot of me don't you think?

Monday, May 25, 2015

My Feng Shui Approach

Once upon a blog, I briefly wrote about my believing in Feng Shui to some extent. I never elaborated on how I generally approached Feng Shui in my daily life though. Because, to be fair, I don't really do spend all my time optimising every areas of my home. I only use cures when there is a ill serious enough to address.

Before I continue, I will state once more that I am aware there is an Indian version called Vaastu. And I am not going to write about it, for I find it complex, and am absolutely not attuned to it the way I am to Feng Shui.

In Feng Shui, you use a tool called a bagua to identify the 9 zone of your home. Each zone represent a certain aspect of your life. Where these zone are in your home can be determined using two different methods. The traditional one requires the use of a compass and is linked to the Ch'i flow in your environmement.
The other, simpler and easier to implement is the "Doorway method", it takes into account the fact that Ch'i flows in through your entry door.

In both methods, you'll need the bagua. Which looks like this :

the 9 areas of your life and home

I prefer using the Doorway method when I am applying a Feng Shui cure to my home. With this method, you align the bottom of that grid with the side of your floor plan that has the main entry to your door. You door will therefore be in either the Knowledge, Career or Friend zone and the rest of your home in the remaining 9 areas.

Again, I don't optimise my home in whole, or at all. Unless there is a serious enough reason to do so. And you can find all these solutions on Google. It involves using specific materials, colours and items to facilities the flow of Ch'i in areas that might be clogged.
That said, I observe many basic guidelines in my daily life. Some that have even been proven to affect us in some research.

- First, I go by a firm "No clutter" rule. Clutter block the flow of energy in your home, gather dust, and become unhygienic.
Psychological studies have also shown that visual clutter can put your nervous system in "sensory overload" and increase stress, which in turn affects your whole body, health and wellbeing. Too much stimuli of any kind is stressful. Don't let your home affect you that way.
I try to keep only the things I need, and make sure they all have an appropriate storage solution for them.

"A place for everything and everything in its place" is a very wise moto to have.

- I open my windows often. It is said to ease the flow of Ch'i in your home and flush the bad energy out. Something that has a lot of truth, even if you don't believe in Life energy. It has been proven that in climates that have you live in shut quarter, the air inside your home can become three times more polluted than the outdoor. If you are familiar with the feeling of being in a stuffy environmement, this is why. Opening the windows often let you flush the stale air out and bring in energising fresh air to breathe.

- The best way to feel energised and happy is to be surrounded by positive energy. The best way to feel this positivity in your environmement is to be surrounded by things that soothe you and fee harmonious. Bring in colours to that speak to you in your decor. If you hate certain textures, colours or material, steer clear of them.
It doesn't matter how fashionable they are. The first person that need to be impressed with your home is you and your family. The others do not matter, they don't even live here.

As you noticed, the colour blue in all its hues speaks to me and it is found everywhere in my home. It grounds me, soothe me and makes me feel at peace

To conclude, Feng Shui can be as simple as making sure your home is kept neat, clean and non stressful. It doesn't take much to ensure a good flow of energy in your life. You'll recognise the problem areas of your life better and how to address them if you are a generally balanced and grounded person.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Pet Blogging Friday

Another week ending, another pet picture. This week, I decided to go back in time, sifting through old pictures.
This is 8 weeks old Jasmine back in 2006. Back then she actually loved the rain and never quite understood why we would stay indoors instead of playing on the terrace (I miss that old flat!).
This of course changed over time. Now Jazz will refuse to go pee and poop in the rain. Which during the monsoon in Mumbai is hard to achieve. She once embarassed me by holding her poop the whole wet walk long only to go right smack in front of the lobby once I gave up on her wanting to poop.
We are seeing a lot more clouds passing over Mumbai this week. This means that rain is hopefully not too far away and that we will see Jasmine pulling her old trick again soon.

The cloudiness hasn't made Mumbai bearable so far, the humidity levels are soaring and we feel sticky round the clock.
I am looking forward to cooler days at this point. Because I got the electricity bill for April, and it is not pretty! I am sure the one for May is going to look pretty much the same as well.
The idea to be done with the AC for a couple of month is really it is.
On these wise words, I am wishing you all a great weekend ahead.

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