Monday, May 18, 2009

children of mixed parentage

Our weekend mornings are spent lurking around Bangsar while the son has fun at Gymboree. It is here that I get to see a lot of mixed breed kids...I don't think that is a nice enough term to use but it gets the point across quickly. I am talking about kids born to a white man-Malaysian Chinese or Malay lady; or white lady married to a local guy.
These kids have a mix of facial features, making them look really confusing. I am in no way looking down on them, but more in terms of amazement and curiosity.
These kids look confused to me, they cannot identify themselves with the local scene coz they have only little local genes in them and the rest of the, which is white gets more confused in the local scene where the whites are not in majority....
This makes me think about my son too, although there are lots of Indians around us, will he be confused as a Marathi-speaking boy, that he cannnot hold a conversation with everyone in his mother tongue? That he can speak in Marathi to only his family and a handful more....will he face an identity crisis in future? or is he going through it every day even now?
During the early part of my childhood we were in the northern part of India, and our Marathi was not that good, we spoke only at home...outside it was pure Hindi or English in school.
When we moved to Pune, I was in the 2nd standard, and me & my brother were made fun of by our building kids for our famously funny Marathi !!!
We did not know our Marathi number...I still get confused after about 50 ..
I picked up the language, but my brother was not good at it, to the extent that in the 7th standard his Marathi teacher called mom to school to show his essay on 'majhi aai' (my mother) in which he had gone overboard with his use of non-sensical Marathi words !! and she even pleaded with my mom to shift him to German language from 8th standard !!

For all or little that I understand, I think we should let kids develop as per the local scene, and not try to force their original culture on them. Having said that I myself would shudder to think that my son would know more about Chinese New Year than Diwali or Gudhi Padwa....
I would even hate if he picked up the local accent !!
So I guess a fine balance needs to be made between the original culture and the culture that the child is growing up in.
I know a lot of people who lived in the USA, had kids and once the kids were of 5-6 years they came back to India or atleast moved to Asia for the fear of alienating their kids from Asian/Indian culture. I don't consider that the right thing to do, but I cannot judge them as they lived through the issues and problems themselves, I am a mere observer.
Even my next door neighbor is leaving for India next month, and says that if they don't go now, their kids will never like India. The kids are now 7 and 6 years old. Again I do not know if that is a reason good enough to make you go back home....I do not know...

1 comment:

himali said...

My 2 cents: Whether the family lives in India or abroad, what matters most is that the parents are comfortable/happy with their choice. I understand why parents would want to move back to their roots, to be closer to the culture for their kids. But I honestly feel the decision to move back should be based on the needs and comforts of the parents first. I have seen parents who are not happy living in the USA but are doing so for their children and somewhere down the lane the kids also grow a little confused and about being Indian-americans. WHen children see that the parents are confident about their reasons to live where they choose to live, the children too grow up realizing who they are as the parents make that much effort to teach their children about Indian culture. I have seen parents raising culturally well-behaved children in the USA and they adopt well with both the American and Indian ways. In short, parents should move or choose to stay where they will be happier and confident.