I remember when I was in my early teens, there was a moment of revelation for me when it came to the idea of who I was in the country. You see, prior to this, I had never been exposed to Western movies. The old John Wayne films that seem to be required watching for any young American child. But through finally being exposed to one, I remember being thrown off by the concept of cowboys and Indians, because I was Indian, and the people on this film definitely were not. Through a little research and reading, I started to learn why the term came about, and wondered why it was still being used in the way it was.
I would talk to some of the local kids, and it would be humorous to watch their minds try to wrap around it too. Because when you mention an Indian, back then anyway, not so much in recent history, they would always have the same conjured image. It led to a point where I didn’t want to be associated with that moniker. It really seemed that Americans had a dislike for these Indians, and no matter where I looked, I couldn’t even find any walking the streets. Now, of course looking back, that was a really naive way look at things, but I was young and naïve at the time, so there’s that. I would stray away from groups playing that particular game, because I knew who I would be grouped in with, and I didn’t want that association.
Everywhere I went, people would talk a lot about national pride and patriotism, and I felt that it was something important to have, but to be fully honest, I wasn’t too proud of where we came from. The city was dirty, there was too many people, and if we liked it so much, why did we leave? These were concepts I had a lot of struggle with growing up. The nail in my mental coffin was the accent myself and my family had, which was the constant source of ribbing from fellow classmates, made especially popular when the Simpsons became especially popular. It seemed that our culture was a joke, and I started to get in on laughing about it. I would overly enunciate my accent in certain situations to get a laugh out of the other kids, not realizing that I was laughing at myself the whole time.
Most of my school years went like this, laughing at my own culture because I was trying to fit in with a new one. The stuff we did back in India was weird, and worth laughing at. Worshipping cows? Why worship them, when you can worship the tasty burgers they get turned into? It was a very confusion and tumultuous time for a young kid to go through, and my parents were more than a little disheartened as my dislike for my own culture grew, and they didn’t know how to help.