Archive for the ‘Winter 2010’ Category

Culturally Destined

In Uncategorized, Winter 2010 on March 19, 2010 at 11:59 am

     Bright red and pink chooriyans shimmering in the sun. Endless rows of vendors selling the latest pirated Indian movie. Spicy aromas of the sizzling shish kabobs with naan from the hot clay tandoor.

     While these arousing images might bring back memories of our homeland and its traditions; for others of us, they are just foreign words.

     Most of us reading this would resonate better with Macy’s sterling silver bracelets, ghetto outlet malls in the suburbs and super-sized hamburgers from McDonalds.

    Whatever the traditions may be that we connect with the most, all of us do have a culture in reality. This culture, in turn, becomes our destiny in some ways.

    Culture is what determines our fate from the daily day-to-day decisions to the decisions that affect us for the rest of our lives. What do we eat? Who do we marry? What is appropriate for us to wear?

    “The paradox of human nature is that it is always a manifestation of cultural meanings, social relationships, and power politics,” says Judith Lorber. “It is not biology but culture that makes our destiny.”

    And indeed, Lorber is correct. As human beings, we are mostly born with similar biological parts. So, why is it then that we have immensely different thoughts, values, ideas and morals?

    One word: culture.

    It is in our upbringing that culture differentiates us into one or another. It is our culture that brings upon us the demands of society. It is our culture that destines us.

    However, in the United States, the melting pot of the world, the line between one culture to another becomes blurred and we in it, become lost.

    We dabble between our ethnic restaurants versus the All-American buffets. We buy from the sales rack at the mall while purchasing the best quality ethnic clothes from our homeland. We run the risk of being labeled the “A” word: American. God forbid, someone calls us American. Why is that seen as an insult in the first place?

    We live in America. We work in America. We eat in America. And most of us will die in America. So why is it that we fear being labeled as Americans?

    One word: culture.

    Many cultures around the world are exclusive. Either you follow the basic customs of society or you will be exiled, even be labeled an outcast. Especially in Middle Eastern and Asian cultures, you are mocked and ridiculed if you are different.

    Yet, in modern America, diversity is celebrated. Whether Chinese, Russian, Pakistani or German, everyone here is an American, except for those who choose to cling on to their heritage exclusively. And whether you think they are missing out or not, they are certainly losing the chance to experience another culture. But, after all, it is not really their fault, is it? It is their culture that makes their destiny in the end…. 

This or That?

Chooriyans – Bangles
Naan – Oven-baked bread
Tandoor – Clay oven