Wednesday, May 02, 2007

this is home

Well, y'all, I don't know. It's a good thing this is all temporary, but this whole living with the folks thing has resulted in some thought-provoking statements. First of all, I never mentioned it here, perhaps because I was convinced I would be flamed since everyone else in the universe loves it so much, but I was not impressed by The Namesake- neither the novel nor the film. A Auntie, legendary A Auntie, dropped by yesterday, and I cornered her about her thoughts. She wanted to know what my problem was with the material.

What was my problem with it? I had to come up with something, but you can't spew nonsense at A Auntie- she suffers no fools, and she ain't having that sh*t. When I really thought about it, I could boil it down to this aggravation: it continues to annoy me that Lahiri is so adept at creating rich characters in Gogol's parents, but fails so utterly to give Gogol any dimension at all. My cousin K has argued that's the entire point of the novel, but I find that really too pessimistic: I know a lot of us 2nd-genners are a bunch of whiny, navel-gazers (cough*I-keep-a-blog*cough), but I think that some of us do actually have pulses and coherent thoughts. And then, as is her usual way, A Auntie shook her finger at me and put the needle on the record when the drumbeat goes like this.

She just stated, and this is not really that monumental a statement, but she stated that most parents, most Indians, who moved to the US around the same time as Gogol's parents, shared a common experience of adjusting to a foreign country, newlywed, cut off from family and what they had known. She just stated, without judgment of any kind, that, on the other hand, every 2nd-generation kid had a unique experience. We each navigated the tightrope of being 2nd-generation in our own way.

I'm not completely sold though. I understand what she's saying, and I see how she has a point. It's probably why those parents of her generation are all bound together in such a close-knit circle, while those children of our generation tend to be loosely connected at best. On the other hand, it seems like there is a hunger for an ability to relate. I can't tell if it turns into inflated expectations- perhaps I hold people like Lahiri to impossible standards because I have been waiting for someone to put their finger on the 2nd-generation experience in a way that I could swallow- or if it's an artificial expectation. If it's the latter, A Auntie is right, I suppose, that this whole time we've been trying to find common ground when there's more that separates us than brings us together.

Then again, I don't know why I'm using the word us as if I'm some spokesperson for 2nd-genners. Like many others, I fear large groups of brown people, and only recently became friends with any (and that, too, mostly due to the blog). So maybe I shouldn't even be contemplating it in this way.

One accompanying bit of hilarity: A Auntie said some of the new fangled filmmakers need to hire an auntie or two as consultants. She cited Mitr. Apparently, in this movie, the main couple is a South Indian woman and a North Indian man. A Auntie rolled her eyes as she related this to me and remarked, "Now, tell me, in what kind of universe can these two people have had an arranged marriage? How?" I don't know why exactly (maybe the imagined visual of her on set yelling "Cut!" and then muttering the aforementioned statement to the director), but that cracked me up.

Anyway, that's enough rambling that reveals how much I'm regressing into adolescence. There was a secondly to the thought-provoking statements reference, but I don't even think it was worth delving into the first one. Which is the problem with being at home in general- it's far too easy to start thinking about questions which have no answers, and moreover, questions which don't really need any answers. Tomorrow, I will share my itinerary in Spain, and y'all can laugh at how I'm leaving in a few days and still don't have jack figured out. By the way, I can't remember where I picked it up, but I remember at some point I started using the term 'jack taco' in place of 'jack sh*t.' So that I would have just typed: I still don't have jack taco figured out about this trip. And I was going to remark that it's kind of a stupid substitution, because what could jack taco possibly mean? But then I realized I have no idea what the term jack sh*t really means- so I suppose I'm equally incoherent either way.

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