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March 10, 2008

Non-veg Americans are bad for Indian health?

From: Help. My son is in love with a non-veg American

“Didi, when you cook chicken or mutton, please send some over as well… we love meat, but our grandmother does not allow it in the house,” piped in the children of a family one knows as we discussed favourite foods. Having lived around strict vegetarians – especially those who are vegetarians due to religious reasons – one knew that it could be a huge thing if the grandmother ever found out.

One wondered if the family considered the grandmother’s beliefs to be archaic… Perhaps they read one’s expressions because the kids’ mother piped in, “My husband and kids eat meat because they enjoy it, my mother-in-law completely believes it’s a sin. I am opposed to the idea of killing a creature and so I’m a vegetarian by choice. As for my children, we wanted them to make their own choice. My mother-in-law believes in ‘untouchability’ too, which is also part of her religious beliefs… Do I allow my children to follow that?”

That’s just one instance of age-old beliefs clashing with current-day choices. Recently a friend, who’s in love with a ‘white’ man, sent a panicked email, “He is meeting my parents… How should he address them? You know, they don’t call everyone uncle-aunty, they call people by their first names. If he addresses my father by his name, Papa won’t give him another chance; it will be over. What do I do?” she wrote. Her panic was justified.

Addressing elders by their first name has always been seen as a sign of disrespect in India. If we ‘Sir-ed’ seniors at work, we’ve had a name for every other relationship, be it mausi, maama, bhaiya, didi, uncle or aunty. And when confused about the right nomenclature, there is the ‘ji’ suffix to a person’s name. However, times are slowly changing and at least in corporate work environments, first names are the norm. My friend’s crisis was solved with her boyfriend sticking to addressing her father with ‘Sir’; the solution in other cases though, might not be as simple…

For those who’ve been following, the discussion has intensified on the issue of eloping and if that’s the only solution when faced with parental opposition. There have been myriad reactions from readers ranging from agreeing to our protagonists', Amit and Nisha's decision to those that say they'd rather wait a lifetime than elope with the one they love or marry someone else... The solution is as convoluted as the dilemma.

Recently a distressed, 55-year-old father wrote in from the United States. His son is in love with an American girl. The father doesn’t know what to do and writes thus: “Help me please. What if the boy (say Akash) lived with his Indian Gujarati Jain somewhat conservative parents in the U.S. and instead of Nisha the girl was Nancy, a white American? I am Akash's 55-year-old father living in a joint family with my parents. My traditional Gujarati Jain wife and I are okay with Akash marrying any vegetarian Indian girl. If that didn't happen, we would reluctantly agree to him marrying any vegetarian girl. But Nancy is not even vegetarian -- and does not even want to be...” (Continued here)
Next page >>> I'd rather he marry an Indian non-veg Muslim...