Being the “next” generation

My DiscussionBeing the “next” generation
Kamal Naqvi asked 14 years ago

The “next” generation tag is a heavy one. For a start, although clearly you do face a wide array of cultural choices when living in the “west”, the “first” generation tend to remember how their culture was when they left, rather than how it is now. A visit to any big city in India highlights the degree of “westernisation” that is occurring without any geographical disclocation. Meanwhile, Indian food, fashion and movies are having an ever-wider impact in the “west”. This should be no surprise. “Culture” is dynamic and technology is ensuring that these changes are occuring quicker and wider than ever.

For me, the great advantage of being the “next” generation in the “west” is choice. The ability of each individual to choose, relatively unencumbered, from a long menu of cultural thoughts, activities and expectations. Of course, this means that there will occasionally be confusion, conflict and challenges. However, this is a good thing as your choices are tested. After all, life is meant to be a journey and in the end you have the potential to achieve a diverse, active, and unique lifestyle that is a mix of what YOU consider to be the best cultural attributes that you have experienced.

Yasmin Naqvi replied 14 years ago

I agree. What is interesting about being part of the ‘next generation’ is that identity is contingent on choice (as it has always been) within the background of immutable facts about our existence (our family, our religion, our country of origin, etc.). Because we are sometimes faced with competing interests, our choices become active statements about our identity.

safia Khan replied 14 years ago

As a first generation or “next’ generation Amrohvi
I have often thought of myself as a ‘hybrid Amrohvi’ belonging neither here or there, infact a new species of Amrohvi. Has any one ever felt the ‘split personality’ syndrome?

Kamal Naqvi replied 14 years ago

I know what you mean. However, personally, I see it not as a split personality but as one personality that benefits from understanding and using a variety of cultures and values. Ultimately, you are you and that is going to be a reflection of all those things that you have experienced. I consider that variety of experiences that I have had as something to be very grateful for and makes me a much more interesting, flexible and capable person than would be the case otherwise.

safia Khan replied 14 years ago

I agree with you Kamal.I as a next generation ‘hybrid’ feel very comfortable with my persona. I am thankfull to my parents who with their hopes of a more comfortable life and spirit of adventure left home,relatives and friends to make a home in a culturally and relgiously different land. They appeared not to be daunted with the unknown. But they did not foresee the challenges of raising a family in this difficult environment where they did make a comfortable home and attempted to raise three children. I feel I got the best of both worlds and as a result am very comfortable in both the western environment and the ‘home’ environment.My education is rich in science,literature and culture of the west and rich,perhaps not as deeply, with the culture of my home.I really enjoy the music of the Beatles,Jethro Tull and Shirley Bassey ( yes I am that old). I enjoy the spiritual fullfillment I get from a qawaali and sufi music of Turkey. I love Shakespeare,Keats and Barnard Shaw as I do Ghalib,Iqbal and Jon Elia.I am fairly fluent in both English and Urdu.I am very comfortable in the company of my academic colleagues and in a meelad,majlis or a ghazal evening with Ghulam Ali. However this does not apply to the ‘next to next generation’ which I am raising.Inspite of my efforts they lean more towards the western culture. That is to be expected. There is a slow dilution of culture,language and values as each generation comes into being. After all Dada Shahvilayat spoke Persian and Arabic and his children spoke Urdu. How many in Amroha speak or understand these languages? In fact, sad to say even the Urdu language and adab is slowly being eroded away in Amroha as we all try to emulate the west.I am sure that my children will be reading meelads and mursea in the English language. So you win some and lose some!If I can instill the feeling of ‘Pride in their roots ‘I have achieved much.It is a challenge and I am prepared. There are different profiles of the next generation some of us are integrating more quickly then others that is to be expected.Finally I am happy with my persona and very proud of where I have come from.I wish the best for all’next generation’ children and hope they feel the same pride.

safia Khan replied 14 years ago

This may be of interest to our community. Feelings of the ‘next generation”
By Sahifa Akhter

So, they packed us up and brought us here. Said their farewells and came to the land of opportunities to have what else, better opportunities of course. They came here without knowing the language, knowing the culture or knowing the customs. For them all this land represented was a way out.

Out of what you ask? Out of poverty for some, out of monotony for others, out of curiousity. They came here and worked in factories, in grocery stores at home doing odd jobs. They worked morning till night. Sometimes night till morning or both. Extended families living in tiny little apartments. All their hard work has finally paid off. They own houses, they own businesses. They have friends. They can speak the language, to a certain extent. They are enjoying the rewards of working hard. A nice house, a nice car and educated children.

Who are they? They are Pakistanis, Indians, and Bangladeshis etc. who moved here decades ago. They have indeed become a force to be reckoned with in America, holding professional jobs and gaining political power. So, have they really made it?

You be the judge. First generation Asians are void of identity. Children who cannot identify with their parents cultures and feel alienated by the American culture.

You see for those from the Asian sub-continent, assimilation does not and has not come easy.

The molds that ours parents have made for us, no longer fit. That is not to say, that we don?t try. I have met numerous Asians who created dual personas out of necessity, not insanity. There is the one that they put on for their families, and shed as soon as they step out the door. There is the one that sips kashmiri chai listening to ghazals. Then there is the one that prefers jack daniel and coke while bopping to hip hop. There is the one that weds a virgin and is a virgin when wedded. Then there is the other that beds a virgin every so often.

We are, for the most part, the fist generation of Asians growing up in America. Many of the twenty something Asians living here today came to this country as toddlers.

So we have parents who spent a significant portion of their adult lives in Pakistan, India etc. Coming from cultures where purity, modesty and family are the pillars of the community (nothing wrong with these). Cultures where arranged marriages are still the norm. Cultures that celebrate endlessly the birth of a son and console the parents of a daughter by saying, ?Well there?s always a next time.? Cultures that cannot be any further then the one where our parents decided to settle.

I can?t really blame my parents for attempting to instill in us the same morals and values that they grew up with. In fact, I truly respect their ideals. However, I know that I am not wholly Pakistani. Nor am I wholly American. The culture that I belong to has not yet been identified. I know that my children will probably have even a lesser connection to Pakistan then I do. Perhaps that is sad. To me this is all I have really known. Whether I hate America or love America, it is still my home. The debate is echoed in Asian households all over America; parents insisting that their kids maintain their Asian identities and the children trying to maintain an identity lost long ago.

My earliest memories are of my parents telling me that I am NOT American, while my earliest memory is of America.

I remember being told consistently by my parents that I am different from my school mates, that I must maintain a distance. As is they had something that was highly contagious. Whatever it was that they had, I think I?ve caught it.

For a long while my friends were all Asians. I watched many Indian movies and speak fluent Urdu. I have gone to Pakistan innumerable times and love it. I love the culture, and the customs. But I appreciate them as an outsider looking in. You see although I speak Urdu, I dream in English.

waseem Ahmad replied 14 years ago

Can relate to the feelings expressed in this section. I feel like a “hybrid” like Safia.

I guess we can not be any thing but a new breed of Amrohivi when you live in a western society.

Just like Muslims adopted many Hindu customs in India.