A bit about me

I was born in the Indian subcontinent but grew up here in Britain. As my parents are first generation Asians, I was raised ‘fully Asian’- there was nothing diluted about my cultural experience at home. (For my American readers, here in the UK, people of Indian descent are known as “Asian”, rather than referring to those from China and the Far East.)

From values and religion to food, dress, discipline; everything was straight from the motherland. My parents were keen to preserve in us everything that they grew up with, culturally speaking. But of course, growing up in Britain and going through the education system meant that my everyday experiences and influences were British.

Today, I find myself occupying this curious identity known as “British Asian”. This sort of dual-identity has given me the unique experience of dipping in and out of cultures, and I often find that I never fully belong to either. I do often pick and choose the best bits of both and leave the bits I don’t like or agree with. Yes, it is that simple.

When I’m not talking about social issues or other big topics I’m a wife and a mum; I do pilates, not to be trendy but because without it my back suffers; I love nail art and John Grisham novels; Supernoodles are my comfort food. And I’m partial to a bit of good-bad TV….Kardashians anyone?

 

British Asian Woman x

27 thoughts on “A bit about me

  1. Being a British born Asian women too I can relate to this dual identity, it was sometimes a crisis growing up not knowing where I belonged. But like you I too have taken the best bits of both, and try to live life the best way I can. I found my religious identity has helped me balance both worlds.
    Great blog!
    Mumtaz

  2. I just came across your post on freshly pressed and it was brilliantly written and completely true. I then started to read some of your other posts – I’m English and in a mixed relationship for the last 9 yrs, so for me it’s great to read about british asian culture and views from a female perspective. Looking forward to reading more and thanks for inspiring 🙂

    • Its great to make contact with other people in who also have cross cultural experiences- whether through marriage, heritage etc! Precisely why I started the blog. Look forward to chatting more!

  3. I took a few days to read your whole blog (so far), and it was a real pleasure. I am not British Asian but I feel identify with many of things you discuss.
    I know how challenging it is to write and not be sure if your message is getting through; but please continue writing because you are inspiring.

  4. Oh yes, a ‘dual-identity has given me the unique experience of dipping in and out of cultures, and I often find that I never fully belong to either’. I completely Identify. I am Indian, and I’ve been brought up in India, but my parents are from such different cultural and ethnic backgrounds, I grew up with a hotch-potch of cultural values – whatever fit the moment or situation was absorbed, and whatever didn’t was left out, or put aside for a more appropriate situation. It’s been a long journey, but I’ve come to love the sense of freedom and rootedness this rootlessness gives me. I like the way you unpretentiously grapple with these dualities in your blog.

  5. Thankyou for liking my post! I started reading your blog a bit and you’re an amazing writer! I was particularly impressed by your take on the recent rape events in India. It was an insightful read from a perspective outside of a predominantly white, American media’s interpretation.

    • Wow thanks Kelly. I’ve stopped writing lately, lets just say I’ve been feeling uninspired and creatively hollow; so your comment is a huge encouragement to me.

      You never know what impact you can make on a person’s day huh….

  6. I’m a British woman and I am interested in reading your thoughts on being an Asian woman in Britain. I’ve enjoyed what I have read so far. I hope you will take a look at mine blog in return.

  7. As a british asian dad, I understand and agree with many things that you’ve said. I often begin to wonder whether or not it’s just me that has hacked or clocked the understanding of my british asianess. I then somehow find myself in a situation where I am either uncomfortable or not agreeing with fellow first generations Asians or native English folk. Often I would question is it just me? I grew up in a predominantly white area being the only asian kid in my class (I wont say brown kid as I inherited my naani’s chitta gora rung). As a child I too would find my mum sticking out like a saw thumb to collect me from school – that too because she was covered in a burqa that showed a baggy colourful shalwar drooping down to her feat.

    By the 90s it suddenly became cool to be asian and our desi food and clothing was all the rage. White girls were applying Mehndi, I would turn up to weddings in suit and tie whereas my white friends were dressed in kurta shalwars. I too found myself feeling finally I have something, a heritage to be proud of! I remember I once joined my mum on a day trip to Southall and wasted all my pocket money on the street stalls selling many bollywood tapes laid out on tables. I’d see the gel haired boys cruising the Broadway in their BMWs and Mercs with bhangra on the car stereo full blast and I ‘d be thinking that’s cool. The fad was short lived and after 9/11 I then shyed away from my Pakistani heritage and distanced myself from the desi scene. But then not long after I found myself in an arranged marriage to my cousin in Pakistan. Due to her parents passing away and her financial situation, I got married while still at University and my family were generally pleased that I didn’t opt to take the girlfriend route and bring shame on them within the community and all that! I didn’t really know my cousin as we lived apart all our lives, but she was (and is!) stunning, better looking in fact than most models. I had the visions that I would come home from work, she would be dressed in a red saree with a biryani laid on a plate waiting for me and this would be the life. I soon learnt that I was in fact the ‘paindu’ one in our marriage and she would be spending most her days in jogging bottoms and a black t-shirt. She’d be eating rice with a fork or spoon and I’d be practicing and essentially creating a mess of the rice with my hands. I decided to learn to learn to cook lots of asian dishes over the past year and that has been quite a success. I surprisingly enjoy it and now in my 30’s I can’t believe why I didn’t learn this skill before as I can cook my favourite dish without pestering my wife to slave away on over the cooker. I soon learnt this was a big mistake as I sometimes find myself missing my favourite tv programmes as I have to cook because she won’t be back in time from her swimming class! Her cooking however is still the best I must say.

    We have two lovely daughters in primary school and I keep telling them that they must speak Urdu with us. They do of course keep forgetting and naturally switch to English. I constantly remind them and they occasionally ask why they must communicate in Urdu. It then occurred to me that I myself wasn’t quite sure why. Just so that they are bilingual like me? Will it help them in future? I hope so. But to what extent I do not know. What I’m reasonably confident about is that my kids don’t at all seem confused by their identity as perhaps I had been. It may have something to do with me as their dad being british asian and so I somehow manage to bridge ‘that gap’. Our local area has transformed into a reasonably diverse area with many asians now. Seeing a group of Bengali ‘sisters’ in hijabs laughing on in my neighbouring streets is a common sight. One thing’s for sure, when my wife picks up the kids from school with the hijab and black coat with jeans and a Gucci handbag, my girls come running to their mummy with the biggest smile that tells me they are just fine with whole asian/british asian thing.

    On a completely different topic, I’ll leave you with a youtube video which you may or may not have seen. Its a roti machine that not only kneads the dough but bakes it to completion. Check it out here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EsfccHgWDb0

    • Thank you for all you’ve shared here! The ‘is it me?’ question is precisely why I started the blog: because despite all that the connections the internet has offered us, as Asians/British Asians we are surprisingly disparate and isolated. I find communities exist based on religion or geography but they needn’t! We as a community have so much to share and so much in common.
      Thanks for stopping by and I hope you’ll keep reading.

  8. Your blog seems awesome and really insightful. Please check out ours, we started a blog along similar lines but we’re still quite young and are figuring a lot of stuff out for the first time! Look forward to reading more.

  9. Just stumbled across your blog! I’m also British Asian, or as I like to refer to myself in full : British Indian Bengali since a lot of the time at least one part of my identity gets confused or people just assume they already know my identity! I can completely relate to the struggles of trying to maintain a sense of culture and heritage yet try and incorporate the community and society I live in!

    Will be watching out for more of your posts! All the best, Ana(nya) <—-even my name has been adapted to a British Asian lifestyle 😉

    http://www.namastefromananya.com

    • It’s great to hear from you Ana, and to hear a little of your story as it were. Yep, people always assume where I’m from too! I hope to be back up and running with the blog soon, so yes, do keep an eye out for new posts!

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