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Hasan, born to an Indian family living in Texas since 1960 loves to eat Indian food, which is very much a part of his daily life. Being a fourth generation citizen of Indian descent did not cast much of an impact on his habits and style, which are all western in nature. Most of his friends are of American descent and there is surely a difference in the colour. Hasan, a college student and a basketball enthusiast is often confused.
“I sometimes fail to understand where I fit in. I am an Indian citizen and my family and my close relatives practice Indian traditions and my grand-parents are culturally bound. Their presence in my life has made me feel Indian, although I have never visited India. On the other hand, all my friends are Americans and have a different culture. Their way of life is so different.” says Hasan, who often finds it difficult to adjust in the transition between his family and friends.
Same is the case with Naseema Mall, a fourth generation citizen of Indian descent, born and raised in South Africa. “Due to South Africa’s political history, the people were classified into four racial groups: Black, White, Indian and Coloured (people of mixed race). Through the years I battled with the “who am I” factor. Although I am of Indian descent, I do not speak our language (Gujerati), but Indian cuisine is very much part of my life. As a Muslim, it means that I do not share the numerous traditions and practices of the non-Muslim Indian community. As a South African I learnt to love the sport Rugby with absolute passion. I also have a deep hatred for injustice due to South Africa’s apartheid past. This experience ensured that when I went to live in Egypt for a few years I felt comfortable because I shared the same religion.
However, living in Egypt did not make me feel Egyptian and being in India certainly did not make me feel Indian. However, returning to South Africa, I completely felt at home.”
There are many more such cases. The Indian youth abroad is in a fix and is unable to understand whether their path is towards India or towards the land they live in? This crisis is not small in nature, it often forces them into depression, stress, the fear of rejection and much more. So, in such a scenario where is the solution?
The solution is not as easy as it seems but is approachable and the result is tried and tested. Identity, is something that we make on our own. If a person is born and raised in an Indian family based abroad for ages, then it is up to him to carve out his identity. As Naseema puts it, “Identity is not exactly the same as personality. Although one’s personality can also evolve, it is usually the traits that we inherit from parents or other family members. It may be that you have heard comments such as, “So and so’s personality is just like his grandfather”, for example.”
Identity is shaped by a number of factors: family, society, experience, opportunity, self-motivation, our perception of the world, our willingness to shape our identity, and so forth.
It is just about picking up the right opportunity at the right time. The choices that we make in life would very much decide our identity and the path that we create for ourselves.
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