Monthly Archives: March 2012

All is Fair in Hair Unshorn

As if I haven’t said this eno–

What?

The title?

It’s late. Leave me alone

As if I haven’t said this enough, I’m a Sikh. For me, this means really thick, long hair. We’re talking a yard of hair folks. So I guess I’ve accumulated a few tips and tricks for dealing with it over the years, and with summer coming up, I thought I’d share some. Next time you’re having a bad hair day, I’m sure these’ll come in handy, even if your hair isn’t quite measureable by the foot : )

1) Applying conditioner dry:

Last summer, I was going to my counins’ and brother’s outdoor-ish graduation party (read more about my bhangra adventure later on during that trip here), and I was trying out my beta-version of this hair style where I had my hair in a head band that was actually a braid of my real hair. I was pretty proud, guys. But deep down I knew that it wasn’t going to look so sleek by the end of the party because I forgot to pack hairspray or hair gel or really any hair product for that matter. So my great-aunt, or my Minnie Massi, gave me a bottle of her conditioner. She said to wet my hair and apply the conditioner. I forgot to wet my hair (I guess I was really forgetful last summer) but I put on the conditioner, just an average drugstore-brand conditioner, and it pretty much trippled as hairspray, anti-frizz, and hair perfume I guess, the WHOLE DAY. I definetly recommend using this trick if you’re out of your favorite product; you might be suprised. I was!

p.s- Keep it cruelty-free! Try Burt’s Bees or one of the brands listed here.

2) Buns!!!:

OMG. So for a long time I had a big aversion to buns. I don’t know, I guess in the Indian community, buns are a collegy thing, and I felt like it looked too old on me.

When I realized I wasn’t getting past 5′ 1″ it occured to me that I will forever look like a twelve year old. So I started rockin the bun earlier this school year, and I got positive feed back from some friends who noticed the new ‘do. Some even thought I should make it my permanent thing. So I kind of have, especially as the humidity is really setting in. Frizz, if you have any, will be so much more unoticable in a bun than in a ponytail or with your hair down. And there are tons of styles you can try: a side-parted bun, a bun with a pouf up front (like Frieda’s up there), a braid bun, throw a french braid in there, just let your imagination go cray. The possibilities are endless.

3) Adding a ribbon:

 

If I choose to go with a ponytail, I sometimes tie a ribbon up top, I guess as insurance: If my hair frizzes, that’s bad. If my hair frizzes and I have a ribbon in it, well….at least there’s a ribbon, you feel me?

4) Keeping it upfront:

Somedays I can’t resist leaving my hair khulai, or open. But instead of letting it run rampant behind my back, I pull it over my shoulder(s). I’ve always thought hair-over-the-shoulder gives a certain mermaid-like quality, which is cool, but really I’m being my hair’s parole officer. Anytime you see stray, you just have to stroke your hair all graceful like, putting it back in line. The longer your hair, the more you’re going to have to watch it, because there’s more hair to rub against things. But I guess the shorter your hair, the more it’ll slip back behind your back…so basically no one wins. Okay. Just try the tip.

I hope you guys enjoyed this post! Oh, and sorry if you’re a thoroughly hair-uninterested guy, or girl for that matter, sorry. Maybe you still enjoyed, though? It’s okay, I won’t tell anyone.

-M

So a Pujari, a Mullah, and a Priest walk into India…

Hinduism is the largest religion in India. It’s pretty cool too, being so big on acceptance and unity and all. However, I think people should know about the other religions of India as well. From a very young age, it’s been assumed that I’m either Hindu, (She believes in a God with six heads) or Muslim (Why don’t you wear one? [refering to a hijab]). It didn’t really occur to some folks that my brownness didn’t limit me to only two religions. India has about 6 major religions. Here’s a quick overview: glog-9507

After doing some research for this post, I was once again reminded of the large number of Christians in India: 24 million. Which, thinking about it now, I guess makes sense geographically…

BUT that didn’t occur to me last night so I asked my grandparents about it. They said that missionaries came to India and preached to the people. They really struck a cord among the untouchables (very poor people). In some places, the other Indians wanted nothing to do with the untouchables, including in the temples. The Christian Missionaries didn’t go by the caste system, and accepted any converts they could get.

I’ve also been looking into the religion of Jainism. I’ve known it exsists and all, but I never really knew what it was about. It turns out that Jains are pacifists more or less. They’re like Sikhs in that they respect other religions and value meditation. Also, they believe in the Universe as a constant, flowing force, which I think is similar to Buddhism. Also, Jains celebrate Diwali! Whaddup!

It’s true; every once in a while, India will have some sort of religious conflict. That’s hard to avoid in a nation with over one billion people. But overall, I’m pretty proud to learn about how ahead of the times India is in terms of accepting so many religions. I hope one day it’ll be like that everywhere. Until then, we should all try to stay strong, and remember not to judge others on what they believe.

Until next time!

-M

Bruuuuahh!

 

Last week at school, the annual International Festival was held. It took place in the gym, where students set up several booths dedicated to different countries. In the middle, there’s a clearing dedicated to performances, which is where I spent most of the day with my Bhangra team dancing for the school. It was pretty fun, I ate so much of the–

Wait wait wait: Bhang what?

OH! That’s right, I should probably explain a little bit about bhangra. Or maybe a whole blog post’s worth.

Bhangra ( pronounced PUN-gra) is a type of dance native to Punjab, India/Pakistan.  Basically there’s a really strong beat and lots of huge, fast, sometimes hip-hop-like dance moves. This here’s a good example: watch?v=YnqxJ8I3pqk

 

Technically, Bhangra is a male dance, of which giddha is the female version. But ask our all-girl bhangra team how much that matters. Dancing for the school was pretty cool. There were two other desi dance groups performing, which was nice because it showed how multi-faceted our culture is. Their performances were beautiful and graceful while ours was loud and stompy. I think people enjoyed both.

You know who’s aweosme? Aladdin.

I don’t know, I just love this guy.

BACK ON TRACK: I was actually going to end this post just now, but I changed my mind basically because I remembered something else bhangra related that I can share. So being Punjabi, the family parties I go to have a lot of dancing. A LOT of loudness and dancing. My whole life I would just kind of stand off to the side and watch. People would pity me and pull me into the throng, only to have to literally move my limbs for me because I was too embarrassed to it myself. That, and also I don’t think I ever really saw getting-down as an option. My mom never does. My brother does but that’s because he’s some kind of unexpected dance-machine at parties. Last summer though, it became an option. And quite a temting one seeing as we didn’t stop until midnight. I was visiting family in New York in celebration of my brother and two cousins graduating highschool. One night there was a party, and I had once again found myself in the sidelines, watching everyone from aunts to grandpa’s getting it jiggy.I think it was my Kimberly Chachiji (aunt) who noticed me first. Before I knew it I was being pulled into the crowd by atleast three family members, including my brother and my Dimpu Uncle. I was used to my brother’s attempts to get me to dance, but not my uncle’s as he lives on the other side of the country. He said to me something along the lines of , “If you really don’t want to dance, we’re not going to make you,” in all honesty. And that’s when I realized I really wanted to join them, and my Dimpu Uncle knew that. So I let go of the idea that “this is akward” and had a great time dancing and bhangra-ing with my family. Ever since, I impatiently wait for the next opportunity to do it again. And guess that day is another reason why I love bhangra so much. I let go that day. And bhangra is basically the epitome of letting go.

Next time you find yourself looking on at all the (appropriate, good-natured) fun instead of participating, summon the the turban wearing, baggy-pant-ed, bright color loving you that’s begging to take over. The bhangra in you.

Until next time!

-M

Oh the Places I (Hope I) Will Go

In his senior year of high school, my brother went to Italy during Spring Break with his Latin teacher and a group of students from school. It was a pretty big deal, and my mom told me she’d let me do the same as a senior. And for a while I wanted to. But then I got to thinking about somewhere else I’d rather go…you feel me? Somewhere that means a little more to me?

Come on guys. Come on. India.

Right now I’m in my Sophmore year, so I can be in the mind set that this trip is totally going to happen. Next year I might need to start thinking about the chances of finding a family member who’s going to India the next year to tag along with, along with getting the necessary shots and, of course, the money. Senior year I’ll know for sure. And I have a feeling I know what the answer will be. BUT for now it’s two and a half years away and I’m pretending like it’s happening.

THE TOP 6 PLACES I WANT TO SEE:

6) The Rock Garden

The Rock garden is basically a series of paths dotted with artistic statues  made from scrap materials that have all been recycled, including bangles. I’ve never really seen art from my own country, so that’s why I would love to go to the Rock Garden. Also, I think it’s pretty awesome that everything is made from 100% post- consumer materials.

5) Harmandir Sahib (The Golden Temple)

The Golden Temple goes way back to 1585 A.D. It’s the world-famous Gurudwara, which is the type of temple that Sikhs go for prayer. The Golden Temple is also where something called Operation Blue Star went down in 1984. Operation Blue star was the order of Indira Gandhi, Prime Minister at the time, to send troops and tanks in to The Golden Temple and do some damage. In the 1980s, many Sikhs were advocates for Khalistan; the idea our own nation that never happened. When the British left in 1947, they made part of India into Pakistan for the Muslims, and they were going to make Khalistan for the Sikhs, but we said we were good without it. Anyways, Indira Gandhi had suspicion that some Sikh separatists were holding weapons in Harmander Sahib. 492 civilians died in Harmander Sahib that day. This led to a crazy, complicated series of events, but that’s another post for another day. The point is, as a Sikh, I think it’s important for me to visit The Golden Temple.

4) Nankana Sahib

Technically this is in Pakistan but…

Nankana Sahib is the city where Guru Nanak Dev Ji was born. Guru Nanak Dev Ji was the first Guru in Sikhism and is highly respected in Islam and Hinduism as well.

3) PUNJABI FARMS


The region I’m from in India is called Punjab. In Punjab, farming is a major industry. I think it’d be pretty cool to see a Punjabi farm; the animals, the work that has to be done, the process. I was watching Bride and Prejudice (a modern-day Indian take on Pride and Prejudice) which takes place in Punjab. At one point, the main character is pretty down, and there’s a short scene (screenshot is down there) in which she’s taking a ride on the back of a cart that’s doing the rounds on her family farm, leaning against some crops. I don’t know, something about that scene enchanted me. If my family had stayed in India, maybe that would be me.

2) My Grandparents’ Old Houses

I don’t even know if these exist anymore. Even just seeing their neighborhoods would be something. It fascinates me that my grandparents grew up in a totally different world than me. To see the places where they hung out, the trees they climbed and where all their other shenanegins took place would be like walking around in a setting I have heard stories about, but always considered fictional. I may not ever go to Hogwarts, but the world of my grandparents’ youth exists somewhere. I can’t pass that up.

1) The streets

From what I’ve heard and seen on Youtube, India streets are like L.A times New York plus no traffic laws. There are street vendors and performers and so much more. And the idea of looking out onto a street and seeing only brown people boggles my mind. I’m so used to being the minority that being the majority isn’t  something I can even fathom. And I mean, I can see all the sights listed above, but the streets are something else. They’re the everyday life. I can visit The Golden Temple and the Rock Garden and all of that (and I definitely will) but nothing will give me a taste of modern-day India the way a walk down a street will.

See a little bit of the action here for yourself.

So that’s all six, folks! I’m actually really happy with this post. It feels good to get all these places down on (virtual) paper . I really hope that this trip will happen. In my senior year, I’ll be getting ready to start college, and then a whole new chapter. And though Italy would be awesome to visit, I can see myself enjoying that one day when I have a family of my own.That will be a vacation. India, though, I can’t help but feel was meant for this chapter. I can’t really explain why a trip to India would give me some kind of fulfilled feeling, but I know that it would be so much more than a vacation.

M

Cricket!

Cricket: the grand sport of India. Our pride and joy. Our greatest source of excitment in the sports-world.

I know absolutley squat about Cricket.

But! Today I will take some time and explore the world of this elusive sport, and maybe even discover a love for Cricket that has been fighting to burst free for 16 years. The fact that I have never been in to sports in my life and that I’m pretty much the anti-lete will not be a deterant.

To Wikipedia!

Cricket is a bat-and-ball game played between two teams of 11 players on a field, at the centre of which is a rectangular 22-yard long pitch. One team bats, trying to score as many runs as possible while the other team bowls and fields, trying todismiss the batsmen and thus limit the runs scored by the batting team. A run is scored by the striking batsman hitting the ball with his bat, running to the opposite end of the pitch and touching the crease there without being dismissed. The teams switch–

so many words and I know so few of them…..

between batting and fielding at the end of an innings.

Okay NEW PLAN!

So a through a new line of research, I’ve learned that Cricket is the most popular sport in India, despite not being the country’s official sport. Field Hockey is. But I’m going to keep talking about Cricket. So apparently the British brought us Cricket. There’s a suprise. Little did they know they were creating a monster that would one day win the Cricket World Cup! That happened last year. It all led up to India against Pakistan, which led to lots of taunting between me and my Pakistani friends. It was fun.  In India and even parts of England, Indian-folk were crowded around televisions on the street and partied till dawn when we won: watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=cGjRcZ11RAA

I guess when that kind of thing happens, it wouldn’t be hard to get into the sport. And this year I’ll try to watch the world cup and hopefully be excited! Wait when is it…I hope it hasn’t happened already that would be a downer.

So I didn’t really discover an inner-love for Cricket today, but I think there’s potential.

-M

On a Serious Note…

One of the most popular stereotypes about Indians and really all Asians is that we’re smart. I know Asians who are proud of this, but I know more who are ashamed of it, and try hard to lead a rebellious life because they’re afraid of becoming what people think they are. I’m definitely not rebellious, but I don’t like the stereotype. I’m not sure why. It’s just something about people looking at me and assuming they know me or know that I want to be a doctor or that my parents are doctors. Yes, it’s true: lots of Asians study hard and strive for high-income careers. Lot’s of Asian parents are hard on their kids. But there’s a reason. When our parents or grandparents were living in India or wherever, they were surrounded by poverty. They came to America where they had to start with nothing, live anywhere, work anywhere they could to support their families and face excruciating racism. The type of people that they saw who were living comfortable lives were doctors, engineers, and lawyers. They would never have that life, but they dreamed of it for their children and grandchildren. For us.
In a book I read recently, The Kite Runner, the main character Amir and his father have moved to America from Afghanistan. In Afghanistan they lived in a nice house and were very well-off. They came to America where they got gas station jobs, a run-down van, and a small apartment; the equivilant of their servants’ hut in Afghanistan. Amir strived to be a writer, something his father wasn’t happy about. His father would mumble hopes of a change in career choice to a doctor or lawyer. They day Amir and his Baba (dad) found out the latter had cancer and wasn’t going to live soon, it was raining:

“What about me, Baba? What am I supposed to do?” I said, my eyes welling up.

A look of disgust swept across his rain-soaked face. It was the same look he’d give me when , as a kid, I’d fall, scrape my knees, and cry. It was the crying that brought it on then, the crying that brought it on now. “You’re twenty-two years old, Amir! A grown man! You…” he opened his mouth, closed it, opened it again, reconsidered. Above us, rain drummed on the canvas awning. “what’s going to happen to you, you say? All those years, that’s what I was trying to teach you, how to never have to ask that question.”

Boom. Right there. Amir’s dad wasn’t trying to be oppresive or close-minded. All those years that he had wanted Amir to go to medical school, he only wanted his son to succeed in a way that he himself never could, live comfortable, and never have to ask that question. And I think that goes for many of our parents in real life. And yes, they often to a really bad job at communicating this, resulting in resentment, fights, or even estrangement, But as their children, it’s our job to cut our parents some slack and at least hear them out. Remember; we’re here because of them and their wish to give us the life they dreamed of at a time when third-world poverty was all  they had ever seen.

-M

Girl Those Bangles are Bangin’

So a really cool thing about being Indian is all the jewelry. I don’t remember a time when there hasn’t been a box of my mom’s old earrings, rings, necklaces, broaches, and all other things shiny tucked away in a drawer. My grandmas are always adorned with something gold. And it’s not because my family was insanely rich or royal or something back in India, it’s just part of the culture. My favorite is the churria, or bangles:
They can be wooden, glass, or metal and come in every color imaginable. And recently I’ve discovered something call choori swag. Basically it’s when you put on a ton of churria on both arms. They’re glittery and they jingle and give you swag with every slight arm movement and it’s wonderful.
Seriously though, when I wear my Indian accessories, I feel connected, you know? But it’s cool because it’s something I’m so used to doing. And knowing that there’s something that goes back to 2600 BC in India and is also something I’m so used to…is pretty great.
Another  reason bangles have meaning for me is my kara. A kara is a silver bangle worn by Sikhs. To me it symbolizes bravery and strength.
Wikipedia says:
The Kara is a symbol of unbreakable attachment to God. It is in the shape of a circle which has no beginning and no end, like the eternal nature of God. It is also a symbol of the Sikh brotherhood.
-M

Some Background

 I guess I’ll jump right in:

Being the third generation in my family living in the U.S, it’s easy to feel my Indian backround slipping away. And as much as I’m for incorporating my browness into my everyday life, I can’t really discuss an upcoming Gurprub with my my peers. A salwar kameez would pretty much be a death trap walking up the three floors of my school. And Breaking into the latest Bollywood number isn’t exactly what we’d call “socially acceptable.” (One day…) Seriously though, I grew up here. My parents grew up here. I’ve never been to India. I’ve been to Canada for like 20 minutes, that’s it.

So here on this lovely blog, I plan on indulging myself in all things Indian from old school Bollywood to crazy modern day Indian politics. So eat! Drink some cha, be merry, and hopefully we can all learn a thing or two about my beautiful country.

-M