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Anybody out there with one Indian parent?

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I'm writing a boyfriend character who I'd like to be half Indian (Asian) and half American - with his mother being Indian.  Since I am not, I'd love some feedback on how his household might be different than my double American household.  Just from movies, I'm thinking maybe his mother is more protective, disapproving of some of the more "loose" teenage activities, and that their home is full of family and warmth?  Or am I totally off base. 

Also any name ideas?  This guy is good-looking, plays soccer, artistic, but has moved to a rural area and is trying to turn a new leaf and not get in with the wrong crowd (where he'd landed himself before) - I'm thinking he really adores his mother and doesn't want to upset her anymore so is trying to be her idea of a good son.

Help!

J.Ro
#1 - November 01, 2011, 09:34 AM
J.Ro
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)
www.jayerobinbrown.blogspot.com
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Hee hee ... you could just have described me. I am Indian (very conservative) and my husband is American and my poor kids do suffer because of my Indianness ... but I wouldn't say it's the norm. Most of the Indian women I know are quite liberal. They are well educated and work in high positions. In fact, I've been criticized for staying at home (because I am also educated). So you have to decide what kind of a character you want, what her background is, and what kind of conflict you want her to have with her son. Most Indians accept the dating culture and even encourage it. Most Indians will make trips back home at least every other year. They save money for it. But they have wealthier roots back in India. Not us. We were struggling in poverty (the not having enough to eat kind) so just like you cannot cast all Americans a certain way, there is no stereotype per se. Especially now.

About names. It depends on what the parents want. We gave our children English names because my husband didn't like the sound of any of the Indian names and he didn't want them to be saddled with a wierd name in this culture. I don't know too many mixed marriage couples like us, so it would depend on whether the husband just loves all things Indian or not. My husband likes some things (food, music, the women :) but not others (perpetually late -- Indian Standard Time, the chaos, the jostling).

An Indian mother might contrast the privileges and rights she had as a child to the ones her children have, especially if they are not being appreciative, but again, it will depend on her specific circumstances.

Some things that are common to Indian households (even just with one parent being Indian) is the food. We make spicy foods, even if our kids don't care for it. It is an acquired taste and my son enjoys it very much, but my daughter not so. She does like the plainer Indian foods like rotis and naan and dosa. There will be some language issues. Mom might speak to her kids in native tongue but it won't last unless she sends them to Indian Sat. school to learn cultural stuff.

Most Indians will participate in Diwali celebrations. Depending on how religious they are, son would see Mom offering prayers. My SIL is very religious and she has a small prayer-room in her house. But you have just as many irreligious people who never pray but celebrate Diwali (kind of like Christmas without the Christ part).

I hope this is helpful. We are as varied as snowflakes.
Vijaya
#2 - November 01, 2011, 10:31 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
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Oh Thanks Vijaya!

If this idea takes wings - would you mind letting me bounce things off of you from time to time?  Currently I'm just mulling around with scenes in my head - but I adore Indian culture, food, movies, and even though I'm a lilly white Southern girl - I want to give these characters a try, but I also don't want to seem inauthentic or stereotypical, or......

I'm glad you mentioned the food, because I think that will be the bridge between mom and my protagonist.
#3 - November 01, 2011, 10:38 AM
J.Ro
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)
www.jayerobinbrown.blogspot.com
www.jayerobinbrown.com

My friend Uma Krishnaswami has a new book out that you would love. And, should read for research as well: http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781416995890
#4 - November 01, 2011, 10:44 AM

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If this idea takes wings - would you mind letting me bounce things off of you from time to time?  Currently I'm just mulling around with scenes in my head - but I adore Indian culture, food, movies, and even though I'm a lilly white Southern girl - I want to give these characters a try, but I also don't want to seem inauthentic or stereotypical, or......


Absolutely. Hey, I'm turning into a Southern girl too ... V.
#5 - November 01, 2011, 11:32 AM
BOUND (Bodach Books, 2018)
TEN EASTER EGGS (Scholastic, 2015)
www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com
Author of over 60 books and 60 magazine pieces

Can I offer some names? I've worked with quite a few people in software who are from India or have Indian parents. Some of my favorites are:
Kumar, Dilip, Kiran (my fave!), Nikhil (could go by Nik), Pradeep,... I dated an Assan briefly, but he endured some teasing for that one. He could take it, though. ;)
Behindthename.com is a great resource for names by country, ethnicity, etc. It's considered one of the most accurate out there.

I will second what Vijaya said about education. I'm often intimidated by all the advanced degrees in the room when I'm at a party or gathering with many people from India. My bachelors looks very sad...

I'll offer an anecdote, too, about the family. I have a friend whose mother is American (New York Italian) and her father is Indian. She didn't know her father terribly well, so when he suggested she visit their family in India she wasn't happy about it. We even discussed how they didn't really know her so I could take her place on the plane. ;) But when she got there, she was overwhelmed by the love and acceptance, and hositality by these people who didn't know her at all, but were family. They went to great lengths to make her feel welcome and loved and she's now excited about her Indian heritage and wants to keep visiting. It was a huge change in her.
#6 - November 01, 2011, 11:44 AM
Robin

My husband is from India and our kid's names are indian first name, american middle name. The other mixed-race groups in his family do this as well. I agree with Vijaya that all of the women are very educated and hard working, pretty libreal  and try to instill respect for both cultures in their kids and go back to india every 2 years or so..... And family is paramount!

Also, Mystery Robin, Kiran is my daughter's name !  :curtsy:

It is actually a pretty common name, we know two more Kiran's who are boys. For boys' names, Arjun is a favorite, Sanjeet, Sumir, Sachin. There are some great Indian baby name websites that we looked at when I was preggers with the twins.
#7 - November 01, 2011, 12:42 PM
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It is? My daughter is "Kira" ! Such a lovely name - with or without the n! :)
#8 - November 01, 2011, 12:48 PM
Robin

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For his name, you might also consider an Indian name that can be shortened to sound like an American name. For instance Krishnan to Kris or Devendra to Dev or Vikas to Vik. My husband and I are both of Indian origin, born and raised in North America; we've been looking at kid names that could fit both cultures - though that's harder to do with boys than girls... There seem to be more universal names for girls.

I agreed with what everyone said too. And the reference to Indian Standard Time made me laugh, Vijaya. I am so bad about always being late!

Though I don't have the experience with just one Indian parent, I did want to mention I think it also depends on whether the parent was born and raised in the US vs. India. And what generation she is. If the mother was born and raised in India, she'll probably be more traditional to her Indian roots than if she were born here - at least initially more religious, more nuclear-family-oriented. In India, uncles, aunts, cousins live together or will routinely stop by without calling - very different from the more private life I had growing up here.

And while my cousins in India are more traditional than me, I am more traditional than my younger sister who is more traditional than our youngest sister -- even though I spent a lot of time as a kid breaking my parents in for things they never would've seen in India -- such as dating, though that is becoming more common in big Indian cities. Fortunately my parents were very open-minded. But I've seen some parents who have been here for decades and have clung so tightly to their roots because they're afraid of losing their culture that they're actually more traditional than their relatives in India now.

Also if your MC hung out with the wrong crowd, chances are the whole Indian community will know about it...maybe even in other states through relatives or friends.



As Vijaya mentioned, it really depends on the person too though.
#9 - November 01, 2011, 02:36 PM
Anita N. Amin
RAJA’S PET CAMEL (Cardinal Rule Press, 2020); THE LEGACY OF RASHMI BAZAAR (Teacher Created Materials, Oct 2019) And more in 2020-2021

This is so wonderful.  I love the BB's - I knew it was just the place to ask this question - even just this little bit gives me even more to run with when I get to that point. 

JRo
#10 - November 01, 2011, 05:06 PM
J.Ro
NO PLACE TO FALL (Harper Teen, 2014)
www.jayerobinbrown.blogspot.com
www.jayerobinbrown.com

Liz
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I knew an Indian mother when I lived in Nashville.  (I don't know if it was a 'mixed marriage or not), there was a large community partially due to the fact that Vanderbilt University and Hospital were located there.

This woman used to throw the largest parties for everything and used to come into the rubber stamp/paper store I knew and make the most elaborate invitations for gobs of people.  Even her kids birthday parties.  I have no idea how common the parties are in most communities of Indian families, but the set she was in had them all the time.  Never saw anyone who gave so many parties or attended so many parties in my life!
#11 - November 02, 2011, 03:58 PM
You must do the things you think you cannot do.  Eleanor Roosevelt

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