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That moment you realise you’re doing it too…

It’s happened…. I’ve become a head wobbler!

It took two years but its happened, I ‘caught’ the head wobble! I don’t know how long I’ve been at it since I only noticed the other week on holiday when someone did it back to me in reply.

Awkward? Well could possibly be if I don’t know said person, but they fortunately knew who my other half is which makes more sense of it, even though he himself is not much of a head wobbler!

But come to think of it I actually do do it quite often these days, so I do worry that there might be an occasion one day where someone might think I am mocking them.

Actually bringing that into a wider scale there are other things too that along the way I have become to adopt, which I know in a roundabout way could even cause offence. Many a time I have read discussions or articles over white women causing offence by adopting parts of Indian culture – in particular I remember an article about a girl who just liked to wear sarees – should Asians for whom this is their tradition take this as an insult or a flattering complement?

I can understand in a way both sides of the story. Sarees, bangles and bindis are beautiful, and as a westerner I completely understand why any girl would want to wear these given the opportunity. However for Asians these aren’t simply just adornments, they have history and tradition and are symbolistic and meaningful, for which I can see how someone wearing this yet not understanding could cause offence.

I own a saree, but unfortunately have yet to have the opportunity to wear it. I bought it in India last year and if I’m honest it is so (for want of a better word) ‘blingy’ i would need a rather special occasion to wear it, and even then I haven’t gotten around to getting the blouse stitched for it yet. I also own bangles, which I do wear almost every day now, I understand the meaning for them to married woman, and in the same way I like to wear them to show commitment to Babu, not that any of my peers understand this, to them they are just bracelets, and yes, I do also like them because they are pretty – I’m still a girl after all.

In the future, even in India I don’t think a saree will become my day-to-day wear, simply because I am much more comfortable in some nice chinos or jeans, but I certainly look forward to wearing them at weddings, festivals and other occasions.

I have already been told that it would be expected of me to always wear bangles and sindoor after marriage which at first I was inclined to rebel against, but in time I have learnt more and more of the culture I realise that it would almost be wrong of me not to.

It’s funny actually, there was a mela festival showcasing local Asian arts yesterday, I only saw 2 people on sarees and they were both young, blonde, white British girls! I must say they both looked beautiful, it’s just unfortunate that one girl had the straps of her underwear hanging from her blouse!

If love to know others thoughts on how girls like me can be perceived in the desi culture. I’m very keen to observe customs and traditions, and am also inadvertently picking up other indianisms along the way, I really want to strike a good balance, and of course avoid offending anyone.

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6 responses to “That moment you realise you’re doing it too…

  • American Punjaban PI

    Wobble away! 😛

    I caught myself doing that too and it felt so odd when I realized it. Now I catch myself doing it fairly often. Hazards of the relationships I guess.

    I didn’t keep my bangles on and I don’t wear them often now either. I know the customs but they just didn’t fit my lifestyle very well. I love them and I have plenty. I just usually wear them when I’m going out. I can’t work in them at all.

    • ria

      You know what I like about it the most…? It’s the fact I can now answer in a non-committal yes nor no way, like earlier my mum was getting ready for a wedding but had bought some dresses a few weeks back, which weren’t fitting too great with the 8lbs she’s since gained, and when asked which was best, and then her saying “well, it’s pretty much hobsons choice isn’t it?!” I simple gave a wobble in response.

      It’s funny really, I’ve been wearing my bangles so much lately that I feel odd without them… the only thing that does annoy me sometimes is with the bigger ones when working as i can’t rest mt wrists on the desk properly when typing/mousing, but saying that I really need to get myself a wrist support anyhow!

  • Andrea

    It’s an interesting position to be in. You always have a choice about what to wear after marriage. Keep in mind though that there are plenty of Indian women who *do not* want to wear the marriage symbols but are pressurized or forced into it. As well as those who wear them happily. And those who dispense with them altogether.

    I do not ever want to be in the position where someone says “Look at Andrea; she wears [insert traditional Indian thing here] and YOU DON’T, PRIYA; Andrea is a better Indian girl than you.” That is not okay. I do not wish to contribute to an Indian woman’s oppression by my adoption of these symbols.I wear (a very small amount of) sindoor and one iron bangle as per request from my husband’s family. I do not wear the shankha pola every day as American life is not suited to it. This is my choice.

    It is also good to remember that Indian culture is not just its sartorial elements (sari bindi bangles) and that there is a lot more that goes along with it. Simply adopting the outward aspects of Indian culture without understanding the less visible elements can make you look very awkward and can cause pain and hurt to others (like the girls who sexualize the bindi by wearing it with very revealing clothing to music festivals).

    My personal opinion, though not popular, is that those of us who live between cultures need to express that through community. Don’t just read something on the Internet, think it’s cool, and take it on without understanding it. Learn to wear a sari from your mother-in-law or your close Indian friend. Talk to women at your local temple about how they are treated in the community when they wear bindi, listen to their stories, before you wear it yourself. This is how culture is generally transmitted and I think it is a more honest way than a cafeteria-style “pick what you want from different cultures because I don’t have culture” sort of appropriation.

    • ria

      I agree with your second point, Babu insisted on showing me an Oriya movie “paradesi chadhei” I think it was called, one of the sons married an american and originally she was not welcomed into the family, she had learned all of the customs etc etc to become a “good oriya wife”, eventually they accept her, but at the same time she is shown as an example against the Oriya girl the other brother marries who after marriage didn’t do half of what the American did. It made me mad, for your same reasoning, but for so many other reasons too. OK the movie is over 20 years old now so I’d like to think attitudes would have moved on a little at least, but even though the whole thing was in oriya, it still got me mad that woman giving up her soul! I’m all for bringing the best of both cultures together, yest tradition should not be ignored or forgotten for bringing in another culture into the mix but neither should the other culture should it!

      Oh and I’m with you on that too, I was originally guilty, asking Babu to bring me some bangles since I thought they were pretty! But as I learn more I only want to adopt things I understand and like you say with the help of people who know about it. I would love to turn up to Babu’s parent’s house in a saree, but I won’t, since as much as is seems like a “cool” Idea, in my heart it feels wrong, I know it will be wrapped wrong, and would have no meaning, I’d just be some gori who looks like she’s trying too hard (not in a good way!). I hope that maybe his mother and I can shop for one while I am there and that she can teach me to wear it perhaps, if not, no big deal. I’ll go there as myself, and along the way will enjoy learning, and hopefully taking part in their culture too.

  • Glenn

    Indian women do the wobble more than men. So it is not surprising that you picked it up. My wife has not picked it up though inspite of 10’years of marriage. Probably because the Pennsylvania Dutch influence predominates. For some reason I never did the wobble but some other men in my family do 🙂

    • ria

      It’s funny, a new girl at work has a Desi boyfriend and she is always head wobbling away too 🙂

      Funny you say that, my other half barely does it either!

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