I don’t know if this is weather-induced depression or something else, but I’m feeling stuck lately. The biggest manifestation of all of this is that I think I may have reached a ceiling with regards to my understanding of India. Allow me to explain.
I do not have any Indian friends. I am not Indian. Therefore, what I can learn is very limited. I can learn the language, how to wear the clothes, to cook the food, what it means to be Hindu, Jain, Muslim, Sikh, etc., but I can’t do much more than be an academic at this point. I feel weird when I go to chaat restaurants (the fact that they’re restaurants here puts them at a farther cultural remove). I watch Bollywood films but get the sense that like American cinema, the insight they offer is stereotypical at best. Ultimately, these things might not matter, because learning Hindi and bhangra and how to cook a good aloo ghobi are only ways to approach a portion of India. I think I could study it forever and never run out of new things to learn.
My previous solution was to go and find an Indian person to be friends with. I have since realized that this is very creepy on my part, and am trying to devise a way around it. I mean, seriously – how would I even go about doing that? “Hi, I am fascinated by your culture! Let’s be friends!” is not an appropriate way to introduce yourself. Aside from being culturally boorish, it is also stupid. I don’t believe I would be friends with someone who approached me in this way. It’s like assuming that because someone is homosexual and you are the same gender, they’d automatically be interested in you. (Though the second part of the plan I had was to find someone who was really passionate about sharing their culture but who also wanted to learn about mine, which would be a perfect arrangement. You know, somebody who will go with me to whatever Indian thing it is I’m experiencing at the moment and make sure I don’t make a complete ass of myself, but who I can take out for burgers at the drive-in after we’re done.)
So I don’t know where to go. I know of people in the SCA who are into Indian things, and people who know Indian people, but I am afraid I am on my own for this (I will continue to numb my feelings with copious quantities of ghee and mangoes, which work somewhat well in the interim).