I saw this post about an Indian father living in a western country playing Indian classical music on car stereo every evening as he drives home from the day care with his young son. Father claims he himself hates classical music and never enjoyed it even in his childhood  and so does the child who cries every evening and begs the father to change the channel. I assume this torture session is to make the child be a ‘proper’ Indian.

I grew up in Kerala and although I am an unusual species and my music interests are Reggae and techno, I can assure you no one I knew listened to classical music every day. We did have classical music competitions at school and very few students participated. Lalitha ganam had lots more participant, clearly film songs were popular even in those days. ( Even yours truly participated every year, singing the same song onnanam kunnil mel koodu koottum thatthamme)

Music is a personal choice. Music soothes your soul and you don’t have to force someone to listen to a particular genre of music for fear of them turning out to be bad..

I strongly believe children have their own free spirit and as a parent, we should let them enjoy their journey to whatever music that takes their fancy. If you walk near my house on a Sunday morning and if all of my kids are home, you will hear three different types of music being played.. and for me that is perfectly fine..

The questions is, would your child be any less Indian if he likes Stromae? ( My current favourite singer

Why are we so obsessed with enriching our children with Indianess? ( there is no such word.. I know)


4 thoughts on “Indianess

  1. I feel most first generation immigrants try to instil cultural appreciation in their kids, not just Indians. In fact I hear kids from other nationalities speaking to their parents in their mother tongue while many Indian kids stick to English. Among evangelical Christians from south India, kids are raised Westernized with pretty much nothing Indian taught to them. Among others, I agree, they try to teach their kids Indian classical dance, music, languages etc. However, those who don’t care about Indianness also force their kids to do stuff they don’t like; for example, certain sports, various musical instruments, ballet, etc to name a few. To each his/her own. Thankfully, after a certain age most of these kids have the freedom to choose whatever they want. I feel it’s a good idea to just let kids enjoy their childhood, but I guess these extra curricular activities they are forced to learn may benefit them at some point in their lives.

  2. Why this is so?…

    I think it’s because parents do not want to lose the traditions and customs they grew up through their children. While, I do understand that, at the same time, it’s not possible to live the same way as previous generations, and for many older generations it’s hard to understand that. But they need to accept the fact whether or not they like it. Even things are dramatically changing in India (well, at least in the metros) where people are adopting a new lifestyle and doing things on their own terms and their own beliefs (people are now dating and getting married than just arranged marriage). Women are fighting for equal rights and want to create a new identity for the Indian woman than just being a maid for the husband and in laws and being a baby maker. World’s changing everyday in EVERY COUNTRY and EVERY CULTURE. Does not matter if you live in the US, UK, Australia, China, Europe..etc, lifestyle and tradition is changing fast among the newer generations everywhere where new concepts and ideas are forming. I heard this once from the wise ones who are aware- you either accept the fate of the reality or get left behind.

    However, it’s not to say that we should not encourage our kids to the lives of their parents and learn about their heritage. I would consider myself as someone who is very globalized as I’m open to learning about other cultures, but will put that in a separate paragraph and will talk about my level of Indianess and Americaness. I identify myself as an American more and have very open and liberated views in most aspects. Watch alot of English TV, love reading American novels and watching TV shows and listen to music. I speak English mainly at home though I understand Malayalam and can speak some as well (it’s the language I’m most comfortable in). However I have feel I have an Indian identity as well, and no it does not narrow to being a malayalee only though I’m of Keralite origin. I just consider myself as Indian. There are some parts of Indian culture that I just love. I enjoy participating in some holidays like Onam which I do with my family and also have participated in Holi once which was fun. I enjoy wearing churidars and saris for special Indian/family functions. I like cooking Indian food (though it’s mainly the typical Kerala chor, meen, moru and fried beef since I help my mom in the kitchen lol, but I aim to do more than that later, especially with Indian cuisine from other states..must learn to make chicken tikka one day !!). Also I do enjoy Indian cinema and music, not really the classical stuff much (though I like a little). Majority of the music and films I like is in Hindi (thanks to SRK’s Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, which was my first ever Hindi film that I watched almost 13 year ago) and I love their music, old and new. I even enjoy the old flicks like “Hum” (juma chumma anyone? LOL), “Karz” and “Mera Naam Joker”. I do admit in the recent years it’s been getting crappy and stupid though, especially when the genre is the same…always about LOVE (“puke”) so therefore it’s been a long tine since I have seen one. However I think this is where my desire to be fluent in Hindi has arised from. Know a little bit now and still working on it !! In addition, I like watching regional films like Tamil, Telegu, and Malayalam (which I find are MUCH better than before) here and there. Once in a while I like to watch a mallu flick with my dad on Asianet (which I detest to a tee). Last ones I saw was “Neelakasham Pachakadal Chuvanna Bhoomi” with Dulquer Salmaan. It was very good to my surprise, and with that “Ringmaster” (only watched this because I love dogs and found it fascinating that Kerala is embracing a love for domesticated animals- it was a cheesy film, but I liked it ! LOL). So those are some aspects that I personally enjoy and would introduce the “Indianness” to my kids, however like I said before, I would never force them to be “Indian” as they need to discover themselves and their own identities and embrace who they are. Only thing is I just wish the Indian mentality would cease. That’s the thing that makes me ashamed to be an Indian and is hard to fight, and at times makes me have a cold heart (rather not say hatred) towards being Indian and those who are still stuck to old beliefs.

    That said, parents cannot force their culture and their way of doing things toward the new generations, even in India now there are a lot of rebellious youngsters now ( perhaps more than the obedient ones). I see and hear about this happening all the time where tradition and culture is forced down on your throat where you suffocate. Been in that circumstance before and hate it, as your lose all interest and don’t want to deal with it. I don’t like how everyone has to be the same, in profession, status, behavior..etc. Geez you’re even put down if you have a different interest from the norm. It’s good to be different and have different interests, personality, likes, lifestyles, even professions. It expands your knowledge further more. I feel arrogance, hypocrisy, backstabbing and gossip is going to ruin it all. How about just embrace everyone who they are regardless of their race, status, religion?

    And I certainly don’t think to be “Indian” you have to like only Indian stuff. I’d say go beyond just being an Indian. Like I said above, I’m a globalized person.

    And about being globalized.. I just don’t like Indian and American stuff only, but enjoy things from other cultures, like Spanish, Korean, Japanese. I listen to Spanish music (Enrico Iglesias lover here) love KPOP to the max in addition to the typical Indian and American, also wanting to learn Korean (already know Spanish) and Hungarian (don’t ask why lol), eating cuisines from other cultures as well and desperately wanting to travel. I think being open and interacting and maintaining close relations with people from other cultures will make you a well rounded and even better than you would have been if you just stuck to your community only. Unfortunately people still separate themselves due to caste, race, religion..etc, especially in India where people stick with the state of their origin (tamil with tamil, malayalee with malayalee..etc, though metros are an exception). I always thought we were one India, not separate entities.

    Sorry for the long post though lol. It’s a very interesting post. I’m done rambling :p

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