India, as seen by Anu: A World of Cultures, Languages and Traditions, In Just One Country

Anuradha (Anu), our regional Pocket Cultures contributor from India, is a home- maker and a freelance writer who loves to travel. In Anu’s words “While I would love to travel around the world, I am so fascinated with my own country that I want to explore every inch of it and experience every bit of its rich and varied culture.”

Where do you live? Where are you from? If those are different, can you tell us a little about what inspired your move?

My family originally hails from the southern state of Tamilnadu, but over the last 4 generations, we have moved all over India. I was born in the national capital Delhi which is in the north, and live in our commercial capital, Mumbai, which is in the west. I love living in Mumbai for the simple reason that its a melting pot of cultures and traditions. It attracts people from across the country and gives each one the freedom of following ones own way of life too!

If you would describe yourself as multi-cultural, tell us a bit about what culture you most identify with and why. If you have kids, what culture do they most associate with?

While I am a Tamilian, and my family is quite an orthodox one which follows ancient customs and traditions, it is quite funny to think that among all the languages I know, Tamil is one I am least familiar with!  And again, Tamilnadu is one of the states I have never lived in, and am least comfortable in. I am more at home in Delhi or Mumbai, and speak, read and write Marathi and Hindi fluently! While I do speak Tamil well, I read with great difficulty, and cant write it at all! For both me, and my husband, our primary language is now English, and Tamil is one we speak with our elders. My son is also multi-lingual, and he speaks Tamil too, but Hindi or English are his primary languages.

We are multi-cultural in the sense that we are a mixture of so many cultures… for example, we celebrate our Tamilian festivals in the age-old traditional manner, to the extent of wearing the traditional dress and doing everything in the way my great-grandmother did! Yet, we celebrate other festivals too … we celebrate the Marathi new year with our Maharashtrian neighbours… Holi with our north-indian friends… and Christmas with our Christian friends!

But above all, we stay true to our Indian culture, for example, living in a joint family and giving utmost respect to elders.

Why did you decide to become a Pocket Cultures contributor?

The similarities and differences between cultures have always fascinated me, and when I read an article on Pocket Cultures, I knew this where I wanted to be!

Can you describe a typical day for you?

A typical day for me begins with a cup of freshly brewed ‘filter’ coffee and the newspaper. That is my ‘me ‘ time, which I relish to the utmost! Once I am done, all my energy is focused on waking up my son and sending him to school. Breakfast is usually the typical South Indian breakfast- Idly, Dosa, or Upma, with one day reserved for tea and toast! My son doesn’t even touch this typical breakfast, and instead loves pancakes and cornflakes, so these are reserved for weekends and holidays. We have a maid who comes to our home for washing and cleaning the house, and once she leaves, its time for making lunch, which is usually Rice, Rotis, Dal or Sambhar, and Curd (yoghurt). None of us can live without Curd, and are even fine with simply Rice and Curd! Once we are through with lunch, my time is my own till my son returns home, and I usually spend this in front of the computer, catching up with all my friends blogs, appraising myself of the latest happenings in blogworld, and updating my blog. Lunch is late, usually by 2 or 3 PM, and after that, I usually read for a while till 4, when my son returns. He has cornflakes in the evening (yes, again!) and then plays around for a while, either at home or in the park, if his friends are free. Otherwise, we sit together making buildings with his Lego! We talk about the day at school, and since he doesn’t have homework, he is relatively free. Dinner is late again, usually by 9 or 9:30 PM, after which we either watch TV together or read till sleep overtakes us!

What is the best part of living in your country? The worst?

The best part of living in India is certainly the culture – there is so much to see and learn, and even after all these years, I still find myself coming across something that is quite common, but that I haven’t heard of before! Also, there is so much to see, so many interesting places, so much history, that I can never see it all in this lifetime! However, the minus point is certainly the inefficiency and the disinterest I see all around me. Most people aren’t even aware or interested in our rich heritage and culture, and there is an increasing tendency to ape the west, which troubles me. Apart from that, there is of course, the mess that people make all over, and the lack of care for our surroundings. I hate seeing people spit or litter on the road, but they don’t even seem to be bothered about the fact that they are spoiling their own places!

What’s something that visitors are often surprised by when getting to know your country/culture?

What surprises most people visiting India is the tradition of arranged marriages. A concept wherein the parents choose the bride/groom is an alien concept for people across the world, but it still works here, and works surprisingly well!

About the author

Carrie McKeegan
Carrie is an American who just moved from Bali to Mendoza, Argentina. Carrie caught the wanderlust bug early on from her parents, who raised her in Mexico City. Carrie and her husband David have lived in New York, London, Barcelona, Costa Rica, Rio de Janeiro, Montevideo, and Bali before moving to Mendoza. They are actively working to pass on the travel bug to their young son Timmy, who has already been to twelve countries.
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5 Comments

  • I find it interesting how us “western people” try to shun the idea of arranged marriages. Our ‘freedom to choose’ isn’t exactly working out so well. And, basic psychology suggests that relationships are based on proximity anyway. It is not necessarily the one true love we are going out and seeking, it is the person we always have the chance to spend time with. Seems like an arranged marriage would give just that opportunity.

  • I loved reading about your day Anu! It sounds like you must get up early, do you? With the new baby I really miss having time to read, but I can’t bring myself to get up early just yet because I am still not getting much sleep.

  • Kelly, I guess there are pluses and minuses of every single thing…. and while mine is an arranged marriage and has worked out well, the moot point is that the decision to accept my parents choice was eventually mine, and it has worked out! However, the biggest problem in usual arranged marriages is when the bride or groom arent allowed to make their own decision at all, and are forced to accept their parents decision.. which is certainly not the right thing…. and which also associates negativity with arranged marriages!

    Liz, I actually wake up much later than my mom, since we sleep late! my mom is usually up and about before 5 AM!!! and when my son was small, the routine was completely different, with me trying to get as much sleep as I could when he was asleep!! and as for reading, well, am just about catching up!!!

  • Interesting to hear all about you and your family, Anu!

  • Nuria

    Very interesting Anu! I traveled to India last November and let me tell you I simply love your culture! ;) I was in New Delhi, Jaipur, Agra and Hyderabad and had the great opportunity to attend a Hindu wedding!! Amazing!!

    Arranged marriages are so interesting, I can understand many people don’t get them, but I think it makes sense to learn to love someone and I believe that’s the secret! :) Even if in other cultures we choose the person we want to marry, we sometimes forget to learn to love him or her, which is very ironic because it was our own decision….