Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Cultures and Traditions?

One of my New year resolutions was to be very very regular at blogging. Huh! Guess new year resolutions are meant to be broken! I just have not been able to find time to pen down stuff. I am already lagging behind on a tag Preethi gave me (now it seems centuries ago).
This is something that has been on my mind since a few days, so I thought of writing it down here.

R in my office is also an immigrant in this country like me. She, of course is a first generation immigrant – meaning she was born and brought up here. She comes down to chat with me at times. Our acquaintance started with her inquiries on the colorful photos that were up on my cubicle. She was impressed when I told her it was taken my the Mr. – she also being an ardent photographer – we found common topics to discuss. Very recently, she came to me and said she had a whole lot of questions about my nationality and things like that – she had seen ‘The Namesake’ and wanted to clarify some things.

This led to some very interesting conversations between us – about life of immigrants in the USA – what they think, how they behave, how they live so differently or similar to their culture and tradition. In one of these talks, she mentioned the movie ‘The Big Fat Greek Wedding’. When I told her I had been meaning to see it since a long time, but never got around to – she brought the DVD copy she had for me to watch.

3 weeks after borrowing it from her, the Mr. and I finally got around to seeing it. And it was a wonderful pleasure to see that movie.

I would love to be born as a Greek in my next Janam. Be a part of a huge, loud and loving family. A family where there are no boundaries defining personal space – of course I agree that sometimes it is a pain – just as the protagonist of the movie Toula feels; where everybody is there for you anytime you need; showering more than necessary affection on you. It is just too good to be true.

In one of the conversations with R, I realized just how similar our issues were; regarding our stay in the US, what we miss of our motherland; and the happiness and sorrows in bringing up kids in US. She is from Lithuania, a country that is so far from my own and of whose culture or tradition I never knew. But the more we discussed we found just how similar the basic problems are. And when I saw this movie, it made me realize just how similar to my culture is all that is shown here.

A Greek girl wanting to marry an American. It is so similar, if not exact, to what I went through for my own marriage. We were not from two different countries, but castes only. Yet still – all the apprehensions the parents face, the reasons provided, the reactions and support or disagreements of the relatives, the confusions in the actual wedding ceremony and finally the acceptance of the parents and relief for the bride and groom. I felt a deja-vu seeing the movie.

Then came to my mind, one of my all-time favorites – Father of the Bride. As I was watching that movie also, I felt – oh! This is so typical of how an Indian father behaves about his daughter and her wedding. I could swap Steve Martin and picture my dad in many of those scenes. So, I guess deep down people all over are just the same, the feelings and the bonds that tie us are just so similar.