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Wednesday, December 24, 2008

American Desi

American Consular Officer: "How do we know you'll come back to India?"
Student: "Sir, my roots are here - my family, my property, my business... I want to study in America, but I will come back and put my education to good use."

I read this conversation from someone'sblog and idea about state of indians living abroad struck me. Thousands of Indian students have given this earnest answer at their visa interview. A significant number never return to their motherland. You have to wonder - why bother to ask? Because the idea of America, to a large extent, is to attract the brightest and the best from around the world. NRI ideally stands for Non Resedential Indians. Practically NRI means- Non Returning Indian or Non Reliable Indian.

When the race for food, clothing and shelter becomes over, then green card migrants try to find a identity for themselves. Next generation faces issues like choosing their sides between Indian family and American culture. Desi Indians may perceive herself as 'American' but the colour of her skin and country of birth still make her/him a 'foreigner who's done well' as far as (a section of) right-wing America is concerned. It is about finding identity in a country that will treat you as alien if you are born there. They become like pendulum bob swinging between Indian family and American social surroundings.

Desi is all about rediscovering your roots. Generally, Desi is turned usually associated with Indians living abroad. Now, a new term is framed for the generation born there: ABCD .

ABCD: American Born Confused Desi ;American Desi is used in short for them. The movie 'American Desi' was really upper view of lifestyle and relation of Desi youths. For cool pass time watch it with open mind and heart....
The Namesake as a novel and movie is one of the original and first attempt to address this issue from American perspective. The settling of a family in alien land for the search of livelihood. Their gradual acceptance of the new land. A bemused incomprehension of their extended family to appreciate their better (different?) way of life. Clinging on to certain customs while leaving others. The alienation of the second generation from the first. The second generation's assimilation into a more modern way of life. Halted communication of the first generation to the second. Three hardly identifiable characters mostly lost in a distant land from their own makes Namesake a passable attempt at winning western audience. And i will not spoil the plot here.

Lets put our attempt to understand about Indians living abroad. We were not much aware of America before 90's as brown skinned natives who didn't elect George Bush and live 3000 miles from Graceland. With the globalization era, the periphery of an average Indian with outside world has increased dramatically. The journey starts with Bollywood.

Watan se chitthi aayi hain” (sung on screen by Pankaj Udhas) was NRI anthem from film 'Naam' but the movie was mainly targeted to middle east based Indians. Forget Purab aur Pachim, now bollywood can make film like Salaam Namaste, Kal ho na ho, Namaste London, Kabhi khushi kabhi gum and Dostana (list cont...) . But movies like 'Provoked' gives also other face of the reality. They are entirely based on NRI life with fictional Indian value embodiment in them. Now,an overseas market are targeted with Desi junta as potential consumers. Swades was genuine Indian attempt to pull the strings of NRI to their motherland. Sivaji was also on footstep of swades but on a much broad fictional stance. Some are worth mentioning here as they have done Real Life Swades.

Worthy to mention Punjabi NRI who's mixed bhangra rhythms with hip-hop and reggae to create new genres of music altogether. I am mere observer here. Its flight of elites and plight of masses in mine motherland India.

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