The Concerns of Young Indian Americans

Quotes from young Midwestern Indian-Americans about the intersections of Indian and American upbringings.

An Indian-American male high school student comments about the pressure to do well in school:

“About our studies, me and my brother, we got straight A's. It wasn’t something particularly good, just normal. When I come home with a 95 percent, it’s not ‘You did a good job,’ but it’s ‘Why did you miss five points?’ And when Indian parents say success, they mean money. It’s purely materialistic. They want me to be well off so I can take care of my family…I’ll always be grateful to my parents. I sincerely believe I’m better off.”

A young Indian-American female comments on dating:

“I waited until college to start dating. When I was at home, I found it too much of a hassle to find someone to date, and the people I was interested in dating, it was too much to put them through because I’d have to hide it from my parents. To your parents, you’re not an adult until you’re married. Even now, they tolerate my dating, but they don’t accept it. They found out that I date. I don’t want to keep it a secret anymore but they only tolerate it because they know I won’t listen tot hem if they tell me not to date. I wouldn’t have a problem with premarital sex but living with someone isn’t as common as it used to be, even among Americans.”

An Indian-American female comments on the double standard of Indian parents towards sons and daughters:

“I started dating, then stopped for awhile, then started again, at sixteen. No way would I be allowed to go to the prom. My
brother came from U of I and told my mother, ‘I’m going on a road trip to South Dakota.’ I wanted to go on a road trip to Memphis with a girl who had parents who lived there. But my parents said, ‘No! You can’t go to Memphis.’ But sure, my brother can go to South Dakota. I’m sure he was drinking along the way.”

Excerpted from Namaste America: Indian Immigrants in an American Metropolis by Padma Rangaswamy (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 2000). Reprinted with Permission.