A few weeks back, on a bright Friday morning, I saw a whole lot of Indians dressed in their bright festival gear, marching down the streets of Harrow in London revelling with dance and music, completely oblivious to hostile stares and pointing.
And then a few days back, I witnessed a large number of the Pakistani community at an event to raise money for the flood victims in Pakistan. And it really seemed wonderful that people are sttriving to hold on to their culture and roots in a land so vibrantly different from their own.
Is it true that being in a different country brings you closer to your own? Or do you tend to dismiss your own culture when exposed to a swankier, more colourful lifestyle?
Heena Kara a homemaker in London, who is of Gujarati origin, thinks that it is more to do with upbringing than any other factor.
“When your family is particular that you imbibe all the cultural aspects of your native country, you automatically try and maintain that. So it becomes natural for you to participate in such events.”
According to Khalid Mohammed from Kuwait who has been in London for the past ten years , it is about comfort zones.
“When you are new to country, it is automatic for you to become more friendly with people from your country, simply because there are more things in common and you feel more comfortable.”
While many agree that this is in fact very common, some people vehemently protest against this attitude. Raj Krishnan, an investment banker at JPMC in the USA, feels that it is better to try and get a more multi cultural experience while you are in a different place.
“If I wanted to make more Indian friends, I could have done that in India. I was sure that I did not want to be stuck with a bunch of Indian friends and be known as one of the Indians.”
But as appealing as a multicultural experience seems, isn’t it natural instinct to seek out people with similar interests. Or are efforts like these simply to stay connected to your roots, reminding you of who you really are? I for one think that it helps us fill that void creating that sense of true belonging, holding on to the little things that made you who you are…