Dating and the Desi

20 Jul

by hithapalepu.

As a teenager, as my friends got their first boyfriends and went on their first dates, my mother said only two words in response to those developments: “Focus. Study.”

I followed her advice. In high school, I focused on getting into a good college, studying hours for AP classes and the SAT. I devoted the time my friends spent on their boyfriends on the debate team, the school newspaper, volunteering, and perfecting my backhand on the tennis court. In college, I labored my way through the rigorous curriculum for my biochemistry and history majors and devoted hours to student government and internships. I certainly made time for fun, and even got my first taste of dating and relationships in college, but no one seemed to stick—I was too focused on my future.

Cue to present day. I still work hard, in both my career and writing. I traded in tennis for running half-marathons and continued to volunteer. I’ve learned how to cook a full South Indian meal and prepare chai the proper Indian way. I definitely play hard, enjoying the Philadelphia restaurant scene and nightlife. I continue to strive for my goals, both professionally and personally. And while I know my mother is proud of me, she now advises me with two new words: “Date. Marry.”

Amazing what 10 years will do to an Indian mother.

My mother, aunts, and even cousins are fixated on my getting married. This may have something to do with being the sole single cousin left in my family. It may be attributed to my being the “ideal marriageable age” of 25 years old. The marriage obsession could simply be my mother’s odd theory that my marriage will result in a less active social life. Whatever the reasons, I’m both amused and confused at my mother’s sudden change of advice.

And yes, mother, I’m trying.  Dating is harder than it looks.  Especially when he needs to meet your criteria (but more on that later).

1 Comment

Posted by on July 20, 2009 in Social Life


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One response to “Dating and the Desi

  1. Harry Patel

    July 22, 2009 at 11:12 pm

    More than at any other time, I think Indian Americans feel the separation between themselves and other Americans during adolescence. During my teen years, I remember going through a similar dating talk, with my mom saying “We don’t do that”, where “that” referred to dating, and “we” referred to Indians.

    Reading this post, I realize that perhaps I never left my rebellious teenage years. As I’ve aged, I’ve consistently rejected the advice given to me by my parents (usually to only realize they were right five years later) and even now, I still find the traditional advice of “study, work, date, marry” to be somewhat gross. I believe in all of those things, but not in the rigidity of the path, the idea that there’s one specific way to go about life. For us Indian Americans, we have so much to choose from. We can choose both to respect our parents and their advice, but also to deviate and choose our own adventure. There’s a balance and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


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