When I went to see

When i went to see Golu to my neighbor's place, I met their daughter, we just started talking about each other.She told me that she is a qualified engineer and so is her husband who is working in London. She was also there but when her son grew up a little..he is 11 yrs old now...she felt that she could not live there . I asked her the reason, she told me.........

There culture is so different, by the time children are 16, either they want to live independently, or if they live with u, they want to have a separate key and dont want you to interfere in anything...like who they bring to their room and all that.........
His son.....quite mature for his age...also said that he is a misfit there presently,because if he doesnt conform to the culture he doesnt get any friends or circle, and since he is more into Indian mindset, he cant conform. he wanted to study in India till 12th atleast.
So she has come here to stay for the formative yrs of his son. Her husband remains in London, both of them keep visiting each other as often as they can and their pockets permit:).
When i discussed it in my home, my children say this is not true for everybody.But i think there is truth somewhere in between..........I remember one of my friend who used to go to visit her daughter in NY in 90's, and this is what she used to say...
Renu, there so much of liberty is given to children that they turn out to be quite rude and stubborn, i keep telling my daughter to look after them(She was working) and teach them our Indian culture of respecting elders.
But of course, not everybody is rude there and polite here, its all individualistic traits also and then upbringing, atmosphere all around them. so is this ABCD (american born confused desi) syndrome exists ? or it is all in our minds? Even in many area in India also my chilkdren keep saying-----mom times change ho gaye hain ab,aap apne times se kuch bhi compare mat kiya karo:)
Change is all around..in thinking,in affordability,in view points,lifestyle and change is imminent also,but one thing we must never change is.....our ethics, our culture and our morality. Assimilating ourselves in our adopted country is a very good trait, and praiseworthy and required also........but it can be for the language,dress, celebration, education all that, but our values must remain intact.
i feel it very strange to say......middle class values or small town mentality, because it proves that only middle class has values not upper class......of course for the lower class it is said that hunger and poverty cant be the upholders of values..........Even upper class people who must have never been in the middle class ever, feel proud to say.......I still have that middle class values:).This is the only thing where middle class is glorified:)
So what do you, since many of you are living in a different country, what is your take, and what do you think is the best way to maintain everything-------or do you think it shouldnt be maintained?


Swats said…
The ABCD syndrome does exist..reminds me of the Purva Bedi starrer- American Desi (2001)..thoroughly enjoyed the film

Coming to ur post, v hv enuf pseudos in India itself..
The middle-class values or small town attitude is generally mocked at..but I am proud of my middle class values n ethics!

Even today wen I meet my elders, I touch their feet…and I DON’T feel ashamed to do so..i don’t feel embarrassed taking my parents to a hip Mumbai restaurant and talking to them in Hindi..

The western culture definitely influences Indians who settle abroad..they begin to feel like misfits and change themselves to fit into the so-called hip-hep category of westerners! (OUR REBEL IS VERY DIFFERENT )

I don’t want to ever go abroad even if I receive the most happening marriage proposal..i cant imagine raising my kid in such an atmosphere!
Renu said…
Swats; I just wanted to know different point of view and see how people think today, ur views are so similar to mine:)
But I dont mind going abroad, widening ur horizons is always good:), I found some of the best people when I lived in France.
Its upto us how we bring them up, here also u can see the brats mowing down people or shooting the girls and all that.
Manasa said…
Not all who stay abroad are like that. When my cousins stayed abroad, they used to chant Gayathri Mantra with the rivers in that country instead of Ganga, Jamuna, saraswati...
Jayashree said…
Some children who grow up abroad have more Indian values than the kids who grow up here. This is because they imbibe the values that their parents left India with which is quite different from the values that are prevalent today.
My take on this is that as long as your head is on your shoulders and your conscience tells you that you are right, you should follow your heart and not some dictate that society has set out for you.
tulips said…
My daughter's 2 yrs old n we r already planning 2 go back 2 india by 3-4 yrs. I may not be able 2 control the situation whist she at school with bullying, smoking, drinking going on at most of the places. she can call police if ever i smack her. i want her 2 be close to our culture.
Renu said…
Manasa: Thats true and that i have stated in my post but still its a dilemma face by many parents.

Jayshree: I dont think anybody today bothers about what society says..none....u r absolutely right that ..do what u think is right.But perspective also change with the environment and place.

Tulip: u havent added dating:) and that 991:),hilarious the way children use to parents, I think that till a certain age children dont know enough to be independent in their life, parents can do better.
many people face the same dilemma, but few people manage to come back due to various reasons.
Stray said…
Dear Renu-ji,

Apt post. There are actually several issues that merit consideration, but it might not make sense to delve into each of them.

I'm a young Indian male, brought up in cosmopolitan cities across India. I completed my studies in India and since I started working, I've traveled and been based out of several countries. I am currently outside India.

'Culture' is a difficult word to grasp, as it is used to imply not only traditions and arts, but also mores, norms, values and the lot. Even Hinduism is actually a 'culture', not a religion (in the strictest sense) as commonly believed and accepted. Societies established within geographies such as China and India are very old and have passed down several important 'lessons' to the world, but what makes THE difference when compared to western 'cultures' is our focus on benefit to the society rather than the individual. The politics and economics within our countries is heavily influenced by socialism (I use the term very generically here) rather than pure capitalism, which has really helped our 'culture' remain intact in today's super-charged "global economy". (Notice how we talk not about a global society and polity, but only economy).

The key difference in the western countries (USA, Australia, NZ, UK and some mainland European countries) is not the lack of 'culture' per se, but the level to which consumerism impacts daily life. Everyone seemingly wants the larger LCD TV that the neighbour has, the fancy car, the holidays in the Bahamas. And they are perfectly willing to work hard, whilst also partying hard. These countries do have a fair share of people who dont want to "compete in the corporate world", but given that they have such small numbers as compared to an India or a China, they wouldn't really stand out.

I have grown up in a society where we respect our elders, but I do know that seldom would someone from the younger generation in India (especially within cities) proactively give up their seat to an elder traveling in a crowded bus (just an arbitrary example). Folks here do give up their seats and do several respectful things that we commonly wouldn't. The new generations in India are also becoming very competitive and looking to better their respective lot... likely even at the cost of others. Our 'culture' will not stop them. Like you say, it is based on each individual; and upbringing does play a major role.

I am clear I will have a family only when I return home (despite being burdened with a very modern/ firangi mindset since childhood, I adore and respect traditions and people who keep them alive). I would like my children to genuinely experience a life filled with joy and peace, which in my mind is only possible where one's heart lies, our country.

P.S. - In the event u check my profile, please ignore the picture! Its all in jest! And my apologies if the picture negatively affected you. I thought I would remove it or change it before commenting, but then decided against it'cos I'm part of the new India! :)
Shalom said…
I have Indian uncles & aunts who have American kids, and though they are raised with Indian values, there are times the children must be a part of the American system, while the parents continue to apply Indian logic to the situations and it becomes very difficult to handle.

But you're right - it does come down to individualistic traits, because not all Americans have bad values just as not all Indians have good ones :)

Ultimately, the fact is that people who live abroad have done so of their own choice. So I think then you have to live with the results of that choice also, and deal with the difficulties of raising multicultural children.
PG said…
I'm living here since more than 11 years now. And have begun to understand thuings much more than , let's say, 5 years ago. But, i know that in another 5 years my perspectives will change, as my son will grow older and I will growe as a parent - aparent living in Germany, so to say.
before elseI write anything, I am very happy living here, especially when it comes to values. I did a "course" -can't find a better way for it- here about parenting and what is considereed the right way of parenting (which means not hitting them and respecting them a individuals right from the beginning etc ). it was an interactive kinfd of thing where we discussed situations and ideas and our values. it basucally wanted us to become more conciuos of our values which we want to give our children further as parents. And through that "course" i got to learn about the "German" or call it "western" idealogies which I am sure every one will immideately agree to. Here, you want your child to take responsibilities for oneself right from the beginning. While here they would never (ideally) force a 4 year old child to eat one more morsel of food if it says it does not want to eat any more, we Indians will consider feeding the child with our own hands. Here you are taught to bear the consequences of what you do. But, that is done in a very gentle way.
Now i could go on and on...
but he thing is that every culture has its strong and week points and I think I am the blessed one who can imbibe the best of both cultures to my child, as far as it is possible for me. I still cannot stop feeding my 3 year old when he says no :D , but I surely want him to learn the good things the culture here has to offer.
What you see is not completely wrong, but you will get anther perspective and see things differently when you live here.
Gauri said…
Renu - Interesting post !!

I believe that today globalization is a reality and this process which started decades ago is doing two things -
1) At a macro level virtually creating a borderless world where cultural synergies are an obvious by product and
2) At a micro level leaving individuals with a plethora of options and the freedom to choose like never before.

I believe that all in all this is amazing. Information is freely available, and you now have to decide what to do with it. And I personally feel that every culture has its positives and negatives, consequently what the youth of today need to be equipped with, is the "ability to choose wisely" and if they do so they will thrive irrespective of where or with whom they live.
Renu, one genuine question. What ARE the indian values? I can't think of anything else other than 'respecting elders/parents/guests'. I have thought about it often, and haven't been able to come up with an answer.

And the purpose of life is to be happy. Tell me - are Indians a happy bunch of people? I guess most of them (including me)are perpetually depressed about one thing or the other. Would you rather have a bit selfish (but happy) people or superficially selfless (and unhappy) people in the world? I don't know.
Solitaire said…
I do not know what an ABCD syndrome really is. I definitely see a FOB syndrome (that is what they call immigrants in the US in jest).I have several ABCD cousins who are no different than me in their values. Just that they have an accent. We cannot really compare the two cultures which are so very different. They both have their pros and cons. I do not have any children yet but I have no qualms in raising them in a foreign country.
sukku said…
I guess if you have close ties with India as a first generation, culture or customs plays a major role in your being as you still want to cling on to your values. But what happens when you are a 3rd generation Malaysian like myself you find that you have lost touch with most of the customs and you are so imbibed into the current society or culture that you have grown up with, your dressing, thinking, food habits change. I know my kids have Indian names but that is the only Indianness in them. I guess irrespective of that is said and done, we are ethnically Indian but culture and customs do get evolved from time based on where you are staying and I cant expect to much from my kids. I guess values got nothing to do being a middle class or upper middle class.
I have been in India for sometime on my overseas assignment and I find that I am a misfit there when it comes to customs and culture. Correct me if I am wrong with my views.
Renu said…
stray: I am overwhelmed with ur respinse and wud like to thank u for dropping and hope u keep coming:)
U have aptly said that....there individual matters more and this is one of the most important issue which changes the whole perspective in life.-I call it I_ME_MYSELF syndrome, it changes the values,relationships everything.

And mind it we respect OUR ELDERS not elders:), actually this is also a culture, go to Bengal..there in the buses people will automatically get up and offer the seat to a woman, but anywhere else----they will rather snigger at you.

And our new generation also is getting sucked into this syndrome, since we have starte honouring money more than the virtue, money is our god to get it we must do anything.I myself feel guilty because at times I tell my children to do what is comfortable and good for them not bothering about anyone else.but this is not the philosophy i lived with, but since i suffered in the bargain and I know this generation cant take it, so i tell thm....
Personally i feel having a family is not like having any material thing and could be delayed:) everything has a time and place.And sometimes I think its better to get married while abroad...now listen the reason:)....because initial years face some hiccups which are managed better living abroad without any other interference and responsibilities. Living in India brings upon u many social and family responsibilities also.

I chked ur blog:(, these things used to offend my sensibilities and I used to get prejudiced agains such people when i started blogging....I am of older generation, nd very particular about the language I use, because I think why use something negative, want to have only positive vibes, for me nothing sucks:). But now afer reading so many people, i know ---we cant summarise some one for some trivial thing, two I have no right to judge anybody, that right is with God only:)
Renu said…
Shalom; i fully agree with this;..one must face consequences of one's choice and decisions.Though today's India is changing and so are the mores of society also.Even in India today parents of grown ups feel so many dilemmas and confusion.
Renu said…
Pg: perspectives always change with situtions and age and requirements:)
There they treat the child as an individual, here we treat the children as our property:)
I have lived in France and US for some time, but not as a person working there, sometimes as a spouse somtimes as a parent:)
My son always says...india me sara pyaar khaane se hi dikhta ha:), do u know hindi? this means---why mothers show all their love thru food only:)
I completely support ur view that we must take the best of both cultures..
Renu said…
gauri; Thanks for dropping at my home:) and U r bang right on the point-----so many options and freedom to choose....., now its the youth/s responsibility to choose wisely and always believe...freedom with itself brings lot of responsibilities:)
Renu said…
Rebel; good question..what are the indian values...to answer it properly i will have to right a full post:) but in short...these are the indian values I am writing but I am not saying that all Indians do it...
we respect out elders.
they live with us in their old age.
we take their advice( following is not mandatory)
Our parents are a part of our life.....providing them food clothes, shelter and medical is not the same.
we welcome guests with open heart at any time, nobody has to take the appointment.
we respect the teachers in School.
Marriages are sanctosanct, not to be taken lightly.
we can show any sexual behaviour in the open.
We dont snuggle in front of our elders.
Children dont smoke in front of their parents
There may be 100 points...so i will write again:)life's aime is to be happy but not at the cost of making others unhappy, we live for others also.
I advocate nithing superficial in life, and there is no harm in being slfish also sometimes, but not alway, that will mak life very shallow and wont give u lasting happiness.
Depression is always because of being......
too demanding,
over ambitious
looking for perfections
Omce u start believing life, everything will look beautiful to u, learn to believe in DELAYED GRTIFICATION, happinessd is not something to be gained by money or selfishness..its inside us, we just have to feel it, thn when u get upo in the morning and see outside...u will fing the happiness in watching even dew drops:)
quite a long one, so next time:)
Renu said…
Solitaire: Thanks for visiting me:)
yes we cant compare the two culture because they are different, i just wanted to know the views of this generation, how they think:) U r right prosn cons are there, its upto the people what they choose
Renu said…
Sukku:u r not wrong here, with 2-3 generation onward, its not realitic to remain that way, and even one shouldnt be, once u have adopted a country for ever then every nuance of ur native country remains only in ur heart, for rest of the things one must conform to th adopted country.
here we are talking about only those who live abroad for some time, but once u decide to settle in a country, u belong there.
DeeplyDip said…
Yes I agree with you that culture is very different for upbringing their children abroad...but then there are certain good things in every culture...here the middle eastern culture is very similar to our Indian one where families live together with elders, siblings etc. In the west the emphasis is more on a child becoming independant - and that's why when they are old enough, they want to leave. That's how they live. There is nothing good or bad about it. It bothers us because we have not lived that way.
We want our children to grow up exactly like we did - in a foreign country. After living abroad I realise, for the child he/she was born in that foreign country. Their only link to India is that the parents are from there. So it is natural for them to have a bias towards their matrbhoomi!
All my friends send their children to British schools (not Indian), and all those children have multi-lingual friends. They are very tolerant of each other's cultures, very interested in their own culture as well. Imagine the plight of these children - they call another country their homeland - a place they never ever lived...
A lot depends on how we bring them up at home, and yes it will never be the same as when you were bought up back in India...so I guess your friend wanted a totally Indian upbringing so she moved back...
Stray said…
Dear Renu-ji,

The following video might interest you (I found the delivery hilarious, but the content is serious):


P.S. - I decided it was better to change my profile picture given that I am now regularly visiting and commenting on blogs authored by people from various cultures and backgrounds and wouldn't like anyone to be offended.
Renu said…
Deeplydip: Even in india, lot of curning is going on, i think by the next decade we will see some basic changes in the thought process.Takes time to adapt the changed times.
yeah she wanted an Indian mind and a son,her words.....I dont want to loose my son:) but I lalways say----let them go, if they come back , be happy, if they dont, then they were never urs:)
Reflections said…
Excellent post Renu....so relevant in today's times. This problem gnaws at every NRI's conscience.
Here in Dubai.....I'm relieved to say its quite like India..infact there is less freedom here than in India coz its a muslim country.
U may not believe...its quite the other way around. Most kids who studied here are glad to (higher)study in India coz they get more freedom there than here. Many of them I know dont like to come back here:-) coz life here is quite dreary with not much social interaction...the only positive attribute out of the whole thing is that u get a tax-free salary here unlike India:-P
Renu said…
Stray: Thanks for the video, i will watch it and tell u my reaction.
I am myself feeling like doing a post on globalisation and recession, may be will do it one day.
And please be urself, no need to change the profile photo, as blog is one place where one can be true to oneself, may be faceless, nameless but tru to ur heart.
Renu said…
Reflections: Thanks nancy:) I thought and understood that now.a.days Dubai is quite a happening place to be:).
going abroad mostly( not completely) relates to the money, as none of our industrialists , filmstars or such people want to go abroad to settle down.
Raghu said…
Thats a nice Post :).

Coz we got so many lakhs of ppl migrated to foreign land. And indeed , adopting(or not) to their culture is something to think abt. But i always think what is indian culture ?? .. we hav it so diversified .Respecting elders ? .. am sure no culture wld b against it ! .. God fearing ? .. is it Grand weddings ? .. is it colorful festivals ?? .. or is it bollywood ? :) .. I knw there is some uniqueness in the culture of every country ..

FBCD (Foreign born confused desi) syndrome can really affect the kid. Better let the kid to get adjusted to the culture of adopted country. Else it wld b difficult to survive. It isnt that an indian dont get a girl/boy to his/her room at the age of 16 . May b they dont do it so open. But its very much there. And getting adjusted must b out of choice n not by compulsion !! .. And if someone really fears abt culture , they must feel free to get back to their roots !! .. One thing i like abt most of the countries is the independence . A kid is thought to live all by himself/herself .. They get more responsible at an very early age ..
I partially disagree Renu. Those are not indian values, but ways by which you express them. For eg - living with our parents in old age, taking their advice, not indulging in public displays of affection in front of them, not smoking in front of them etc etc are just ways in which you show them that you respect them. So it all comes under the value 'respecting your parents and elders'.
So am still in search for indian values other than that one. And the one on marriage - that it is sacrosanct, I dont subscribe to it at all. I mean yes of course you should never cheat once you are married, but westerners follow it more strictly than indians. So firstly it is not an indian value and secondly it is not a value also...cos I feel if the marriage is not working out even after a number of attempts from both sides, I guess it is best to walk your own ways than lead a life full of misery.
And about depression, I am neither demanding, nor ambitious nor looking for perfections...still I am depressed...what might be the reason...I have no idea!!! :(
Pixie said…
Yea.. you had me nodding along... :-)
Whatever, be the changes one is subjected to, the basic decency, manners, respecting one-self and others need to be retained and I guess its in our hands to make sure our kids learn and we try and provide the best possible influence for them...
you know, these words - "Middle class values" have become more like a fashion statement now-a-days! you find ALL the film stars, models etc uttering these words without actually holding onto any of these values.
These values are what we have been brought up with, which we proudly pass on to our children and I feel that there's nothing to be ashamed of!
(too long a comment! will stop now!!)
Renu said…
.Respecting elders ? .. am sure no culture wld b against it !

there is difference in being against and following:)

. It isnt that an indian dont get a girl/boy to his/her room at the age of 16 . May b they dont do it so open. But its very much there.
......I have already stated in the post that even India has changed a lot now a.days and so the values are also changing, but so far in the society I live, i am yet to see a boy/girl so upfront about it i n front of the family.The reason we have so many problems in the marriage is that only..boys may say anything in front of their wives and GF but still they are not so clear in front of their families, there they become ambiguous .

and about the adjustments, i will repeat what i said earlier in other comments..my blief is this...children till a certain age need advice,parenting and guidance, giving them complet freedom and independene may prove to be a debacle or marr thir personalirties, because learning everything only thru the mistakes doesnt make for a good life or character.First the children must be given a sound upbringing, good moral values ,education and taught discipline, and all these things dont apeal to a child, so they wont adhere to it themselves:), then leave them open,independent, let them choose what they want.leaving them independent at a tender age is like leaving a growing sapling to the winds of cyclone,heat of sun and see whether it survives---and if survives...doest it survive well:).
Bringing up a child with all the values and teach him all those things is not easy task, parents have to really work hard, otherise u get those brats mowing people type:)
Renu said…
rebel: shabdo ke fer me mat daalo:) yes we express and respect our parents---this is our culture
And the one on marriage - that it is sacrosanct, I dont subscribe to it at all...........It is individual's choice,and I am saying in a general sense,all the time divorce is not bad, it shouldnt be opted to make a choice. No bond succeeeds unless u make it pucca. For the filmsy reason today people are taking divorces and I am talking with expereince(will write about them sometime), do all the thinking before marriage, after marriage,make it work:)

And about depression, I am neither demanding, nor ambitious nor looking for perfections...still I am depressed...what might be the reason...I have no idea!!! :(-----u dont have good friends::)) Seriously i will think about it, u have a valid point here:
Renu said…
Yea.. you had me nodding along... :-).....thanks for agreeing:)
U ahve rightly stated--it has become a fashion statement, i feel so irritted to see thes sentences from the peopl who..must have never ever seen the middle class existence and even dont have any values.
We pass on our culture to our children by living with that, they dont learn just by teaching.
and a comment is never too long:)
Renu said…
Raghu: i wud like to add one thing---this independence bussinesss--all those who advocate are either young people or with small kids, let anybody with a child of 12-13 yrs come and express his/her views:) and say this:)
sansmerci said…
i think i am late here due to the weekend... :) so its a lil big comment!

like jaysree said sometimes there are children abroad more culturally indian than i am ..cos they are taught it forcibly so they don lose it... but hey i am for the independence tht comes in other countries.. i think that concept is good in a way.. n as for values its a personal thing.. i don follow indian culture or anything but i ve values to respect every other human (not jus elders)and to b loyal and b kind etc...

yes we need to maintain indian culture true!.. we cant let it go extinct ...the parents shud make up their mind.. i kno parents who confuse the kids so much by selfishly stayin in a diff country for money but want the kid to stay indianish.. the kid suffers in their school circle etc since they cant get along ... so they cud live in india if they love their country and culture so much :)

but more than anything ... wat struck me wen i read ur post was .. the dad and mom living separetely ..thats sad...i kno families where the dad lives aboard to make money.. thats no different than my family where i ve lost my dad :(... i think poor or rich ..culture or not.. family shud stick together wen the kid grows up so the kid can have a happy family more than anything in the first place!

this is jus my opinion :)
Renu said…
Sansmerci: Swarna, its not a big comment, this topic hs so much to say that u c other's comments:)

u r right..parents confusion or rather the desire for maoney makes the children suffer.
Today when both the spouses are working, there are many long distance marriages..sometimes they are working nd somewhere divorces are happening also.
I feel sad u loosing ur father, my nephew lost his father at the age of 5 and nobody can compensate for his longing for him:(
Hélène H said…
Hi Renu. I am not Indian, but I think basically all mothers worry about their children learning new ways and turning away from family traditions. Even in the West. It reminds me of a famous quote that goes "educate your children for tomorrow's world, not today's" - easy to say, hard to achieve.

Also I think it is always difficult to grow up in two cultures (my parents are from two different european countries). You always feel you are sitting between two chairs, as the French say. However it is a blessing because it makes you stronger and more tolerant - hopefully.

After all the story of mankind is all about mixing up, don't you think ?
Renu said…
Helene h: Thanks for coming here !, I agree with you that though its difficult to grow with two culture, but its beneficial also, specially if we try to imbibe best of the both.But we need to have that discrimination and an open mind to know what is good and bad in every culture.
Because its very easy to follow what we like--god has made the things in such a way, but a little difficult to go the right way..that needs a disciple of mind and body.
Hope u visit often, i wud love to know ur perspective in life.
Hélène H said…
Thanks Renu, I will visit often, I like your blog :o)

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