This weekend, I was fluttering around the house in my long, batik and tie-dyed “maxi” nightgown, snacking on Hot Mix and watching Hindi movies. I rubbed my hair and skin with coconut oil before a shower, made choley, a.k.a. chana masala, for dinner, and tried to avoid speaking any English at all when I was on the phone with my cousin.
It’s so at odds with the person who wears jeans, interviews soap stars and runs out to Pret-a-Manger for lunch during the week. And, yet, it’s still me. A huge part of me.
I think, in recent years, I’ve done a much better job of integrating the American me and the Indian me. I don’t fight against the duality and wish for assimilation like I did when I was a depressed, nerdy high school kid. I celebrate being able to unwind at home with cultural practices I grew up with, and bringing a little of it to work in the form of flowy kurta tops and Hindi songs on my iPod. Yesterday, I caught myself swearing in Bengali instead of English when I whacked my leg into my desk…”datterika!” which is a sort of nonsense word equivalent of “damn!” or “darn it!” And I couldn’t help but smile.