Oh Bhalle Bhalle!!

Image courtesy of Pieway.com and paklink.com

Well, for those of you not of Indian origin, that heading must sound absolutely like nonsense! Well it is a well known Punjabi exclamation which can mean one of many things including ” hey lets dance”, “hey you’re indian”, just hey! I am of Indian origin though not Punjabi and this topic recently came up in conversation in our house. Both our children were born in Britain and at home we don’t speak any Indian languages .I am not making excuses, but this is due to the fact that both my husband and myself speak totally different Indian languages and the only common language we know is English.

The reason this became a hot topic was my husband was chatting to our 5 and a half year old daughter and telling her about the fact she was Indian. She proceeded to say that she wasn’t Indian, but British. My husband kept in siting that she was Indian. She then carried on and said “You and mummy are Indian but I am British!”. Then there transpired a 10 minute “conversation” between hubby and daughter about this topic. In the end I decreed that enough was enough and yes she is British. A few days later hubby reminded her of her Indianness and she conceded that she was half British but wasn’t sure what the other half was!  What a hilarious conversation and got me thinking about what makes you who you are?

Is it where you were born? Is it the place of your parents and grandparents birth? Is it the place you emigrated to ? A complicated and emotive subject.

My own account is, all my family are from India, I was born and brought up in India and came to Britain aged 16 years. I can clearly say I feel more British than Indian, though have firm Indian cultural roots, but would not be happy living in India. My hubby on the other hand definitely feels more Indian.

How do you define yourself as a person.I think it becomes more of an issue when you are of a race of colour, as people from the western subcontinent will always view you as being from another country. I am always  asked “where are you originally from?” .

This is an issue which has become a hot potato especially as we are trying to define what makes a British person who they are and trying to increase patriotic feeling in this country.

I however feel there can be space to be both, why can’t you say you are from many places, Indian and British and whatever else has contributed to your life? That is how cultures are enriched. Look what India has brought to Britain with Indian food, Bollywood and musical influences and even with the problems of the Empire, what Britian brought to India including the Railways and courts.

I do feel Indian culture has influenced me greatly and I love the music and the movies that I grew up with.

Luckily even with  all her talk of being British ,my daughter still loves Indian music and loves dressing in Indian clothes. We will teach her an Indian language and she has visited India many times already. I am looking forward to us taking her and her brother to discover parts of India even I haven’t been to and absorbing that into her as a person.


What do you think defines a persons nationality and culture?


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