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Diary of a coconut

“N-Y-A-H. Yeah, I do know it’s spelled bizarre. It’s Swahili.”

Each August I’ve this dialog not less than 3 times a day whether or not it’s with academics or the brand new mates I make who haven’t discovered simply how American I’m. Through the years, this has led to the lovable monikers I’ve obtained all my life reminiscent of “coconut” (brown on the skin and “white” on the within) or “ABCD” (American-Born Confused Desi).

All my life I’ve been a strolling puzzle piece to any Indian particular person I’ve met. All the pieces about me is a contradiction to what they’re used to. I don’t communicate any Indian languages, I’ve by no means been to India and the truth that I’m half Punjabi and half Telugu (though relying on the day and what story my grandfather tells, I’m one fourth Pakistani). 

Explaining this to my Indian mates normally results in the acknowledged course of:

The first step: Stare at me in awe and ask a collection of culturally particular questions for the following 5 minutes.

Step two: Make it their private mission to “Indian-ify” me by instructing me both Hindi or Telugu.

Step three: Watch me fail miserably at step two after which I watch them slowly hand over on this empty pursuit.

Step 4: Denial.

Step 5: Acceptance.

Step six: Come again a month later able to attempt once more, clearly forgetting how dangerous this went final time.

The explanation for my lack of cultural consciousness shouldn’t be something difficult and fairly easy. Each my dad and mom are Indian, my father was born in Hyderabad, India and my mom in New Jersey. Merely put, I’m a second technology Indian American from Flemington, N.J. with a really American-ized mom and a father who by no means actually thought of himself as Indian.

That’s the reason why I’ve by no means been to India, why I don’t communicate any of the languages, why I’ve by no means celebrated any of the large festivals and why my title is definitely African.

Rising up, I by no means felt like I used to be missing something although. I didn’t notice how little I knew till I got here to Coppell in fifth grade. Whereas it was not the primary college that I had attended with a excessive Indian American scholar inhabitants, it was undoubtedly the primary the place individuals truly talked about their cultures. 

Because the years went on, I slowly began to really feel misplaced, like a needle misplaced in a culturally conscious haystack. I might nod alongside when somebody was speaking a few ceremony or smile and reply with “No, I’m too busy” when somebody would ask if I used to be going to Garba over the weekend, reasonably than admit I didn’t know what that meant.

It isn’t as if I by no means cared to study, it’s simply that for their very own causes, my dad and mom by no means taught me. Nevertheless, as I used to be being hit with cultural shockwaves all through the years, I used to be concurrently changing into conscious of one thing. In the remainder of America, most Indian Individuals find yourself like me. They’re utterly lapsed from their cultures. Certain, they may know just a few issues right here and there however they’ve solely absorbed a small fragment of a a lot greater image.

It took me a very long time however I’ve lastly discovered an equilibrium. I’m OK with who I’m however I now make extra of an effort to take part in my tradition. My buddy and The Sidekick workers designer, Manasa Borra, teaches me Telugu when we’ve lunch collectively and this 12 months I’m going to garba with my buddy, CHS junior Chandana Pagadala.

There was a time after I felt so misplaced being in Coppell, however I’ve realized to understand my distinctive expertise and that’s all I can ask for. In addition to, it gave me one fairly nice story to inform.

Observe Nyah (@nyah_rama) and @CHSCampusNews on X.