carry it with me
at the masjid a few weeks ago, we were talking about our experiences in india- namely, the fact that no matter how traditionally we are dressed, despite our obviously indian skin and hair, we cannot pass for indian-born when we visit that country.
my friend said that she was in a salwar kameez, with her indian-born cousins and her father, at a ticket booth. she hadn't opened her mouth, she was standing among other girls her age, and yet the ticket seller gave her cousins and father the local's price and gave her the foreigner's price.
i can believe that. in pakistan two years ago, at taher's brother's wedding, i was out shopping with taher's cousin, dressed precisely as she was dressed, and i was called out as an american time and again. i wasn't speaking- i was simply standing or walking or examining fabrics. every time i have visited india, the same thing has happened.
i know that my friend and i are not alone in this experience- i have heard so many people say that they cannot pass as anything other than an american.
if you look at me, i look unmistakably non-white. which is, for many people abroad, the mark of western-ness. what then, am i giving off, that labels me as the american that i am?
i think it's interesting that i carry this nation in my stature, in my body language, in my gestures. i wouldn't think so, but i am told time and again that even without speaking, i act like an american. i am not singing english lyrics or waving a flag; i don't have to, apparently, to stand out as distinctly a product of the u.s.
i don't think this is a negative thing. not at all. i am an american and i am indian. and i'm comfortable in a shirara and glass colored bangles and mehndi-ed hands, and i do not think that my accent contradicts my skin.
but i am surprised that america is so enmeshed in the aspects of my self that i cannot control; and i rather like the fact that i am bound to the variety of other girls of american birth, girls not only with indian skin but every other type and color of skin, by the american bias to our actions and gestures.