Desi Girl

   Almost anyone with a brother or sister knows the pain of being compared to his or her sibling. Sometimes it’s parents that compare kids, sometimes it’s a family friend and sometimes it’s a grandparent. 

   One time, in India, my grandma was talking to a couple of her old friends. The topic of my sister and I came up, and my grandma  — as any grandma would — started the bragging brigade. 

   She pointed to my sister and said, in our language, “This one speaks Gujarati very well.” 

   She then gestured to me with a dismissive hand motion. “This one… not so much.”

   Now, I may not be able to speak the language very well, but I can understand everything. So after I finished translating everything, my first thought was “ouch.” I knew that it was true, but did she have to tell everyone so bluntly? 

   This has happened so many times over the years that it’s almost expected now. My sister’s the one who’s more “in touch with our religion,” the “desi girl.” 

   She loves Hindi music and Hindi movies, and she’s always making conversation with my grandma and asking our parents to tell us childhood stories. What I find especially amazing is that she also seems to balance being Indian with being American perfectly.

   I don’t watch Hindi movies or listen to Hindi music. It’s just not my thing, and I don’t enjoy it. I love my grandma, but sometimes I can barely communicate with her because she can’t speak much English and I can’t speak much Gujarati. It’s hard not to feel unattached to Hindi culture, but I know that it’s still a part of me.

   I still love being Indian and the culture that comes with it. Being bilingual is amazing, and I wouldn’t change a thing. I’m Indian, I’m American, and I’m proud of it.

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