White Hindu Conversations: Part Three

Car broke down Tuesday night. We got it pulled into a parking lot and I went into the Subway restaurant to wait for a tow. (It was a long wait, the weather here has been a bit intense, though it’s much worse in other parts of the US).

I ordered a veggie sub and then an Indian woman came out of the back. She wasn’t directly serving me, but stood next to the girl who was and we kept smiling at each other. Finally when I was paying she got the courage to ask, “Are you Indian?”

“No,” I said, “But I am Hindu. I’m a Hindu who is not Indian.”

“Oh,” she said. “But you look…”

I smiled. “I know,” I said. “I’m a strange one.”

“Your family is Indian?”

“I have an Indian cousin. In-law.”

“But you have sindoor and mangalasutra.”

“Yes. I just got married.”

“So you married an Indian family?”

“No. I’m Hindu.”

“You’re Indian?”

Sigh.

I swear, I’m just going to start answering “Yes” to that question!

Okay, so that would probably come with it’s own new set of problems.

I’ve had an idea for a novel for a while that I’ve worked on off and on the last few years about a woman who goes to great lengths to pretend to be Indian in order to live a Hindu life in America. It’s actually supposed to be from the point of view of her daughter, who actually is Indian (adopted), when she finds out as an adult that her Indian mother is actually white and born in America. There are days when I really relate to that mother character! I just don’t know if I will be able to capture her motivation within the book in a way that people would understand why she would do it.

http://www.theguardian.com/society/2011/jun/25/diabetes-epidemic-western-fast-food


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About Ambaa Choate

Ambaa is an American woman of European ancestry who is also a practicing Hindu. She is fascinated with questions of philosophy, culture, and the meaning of life. Join her in the journey to explore how a non-Indian convert to Hinduism experiences her religion.

  • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/awitchsashram/ A Witch’s Ashram

    It’s so frustrating that an ethnicity and a religion are equated as the same. Imagine being an Indian Muslim or Indian Christian. Only, I imagine it’s the white, non-Indians who assume that every Indian is a Hindu.

  • reshma sharma

    Don’t worry about it we treat even other desis the same way lolol! I am married to a non indian hindu man. And other desis think I’m from South Africa, because my husband is a non south Asian hindu! But well said though.


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