Indian family culture question
msjhord
India > Community Forums > Indian Culture and Traditions
#1
| Member

Indian family culture question

HI!

I am in the midst of writing a novel and one of my minor characters is the American born daughter of Indian ex-pats living in the United States. The father has passed away, so care of the aging mother has fallen to this daughter, who's in her twenties. Despite having siblings living stateside as well, and within reasonable distance, none are helping with her care.

My question is this: Would the fact that the daughter is the sole caretaker, and that the siblings are not helping, be something that the daughter/aged mother would discuss with outsiders, people to whom they are not related?

16 Replies

#2
| Member
BTW, I promise, this is not the sort of thing where Indian folk will be portrayed using stereotypes or crap like that. This person is actually going to be instrumental in turning my protagonist around at some point. I just want to make sure I get my facts and culture references straight. Thanks.
#3
| Humble Genius
If its your creation, you can, technically do anything with her - anything at all. p.s. who are 'outsiders' per your definition? neighbors? people in the subway? gym-mates?
#4
| Maha Guru Member
Somebody discussed this with me in a village 4 decades ago. He did this explaining why he preferred having daughters to sons. The sons run off and become under the thumbs of their wives anyway. Daughters always think of their parents..
#5
| Maha Guru Member
Have you read this novel?

https://www.amazon.de/Family-Matters-Rohinton-Mistry/dp/0571230555

And of course Jhoompa Lahiri is always good for insights into American desi life.
#6
| Maha Guru Member
I think it is something they would discuss, and even more so as a daughter is caring for a mother, traditionally it's son who would be expected to take care elderly parents.

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Idle mind is a Devil's workshop.
#7
| Member

Originally posted by: The_Londoner View Post

I think it is something they would discuss, and even more so as a daughter is caring for a mother, traditionally it's son who would be expected to take care elderly parents.

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Given things I've read elsewhere, I'm inclined to agree.

Originally posted by: Golghar View Post

Have you read this novel?

https://www.amazon.de/Family-Matters-Rohinton-Mistry/dp/0571230555

And of course Jhoompa Lahiri is always good for insights into American desi life.


No, I haven't. But I'll check it out, thanks! And I LOVE Jhumpa Lahiri.

Originally posted by: vaibhav_arora View Post

If its your creation, you can, technically do anything with her - anything at all. p.s. who are 'outsiders' per your definition? neighbors? people in the subway? gym-mates?


True, but I want it to be conceivable. I don't want a desi reading it and going, no way would this happen!

Originally posted by: edwardseco View Post

Somebody discussed this with me in a village 4 decades ago. He did this explaining why he preferred having daughters to sons. The sons run off and become under the thumbs of their wives anyway. Daughters always think of their parents..


Sounds about accurate.
#8
| Clueless

Originally posted by: msjhord View Post


My question is this: Would the fact that the daughter is the sole caretaker, and that the siblings are not helping, be something that the daughter/aged mother would discuss with outsiders, people to whom they are not related?


Yes, and Yes.

The character is a millennial; they bare all on facebook and instagram. Vaibhav is right ! You can mould the character as you please.
#9
| Member

Originally posted by: nycank View Post

Yes, and Yes.

The character is a millennial; they bare all on facebook and instagram. Vaibhav is right ! You can mould the character as you please.


Yes, this secondary character would qualify as a millennial. She's approximately 23 years old. Her mom's a little picky and a little traditional in some respects. Therefore, I think the mom has been more prone to keep things on the down low. Perhaps feeling that her other children's apparent lack of assistance is a reflection on her, or her fault.

I appreciate all the input. Feel free to keep sharing. :)
#10
| Clueless

Originally posted by: msjhord View Post

Yes, this secondary character would qualify as a millennial. She's approximately 23 years old. Her mom's a little picky and a little traditional in some respects.


Tell me where this is situated ! It's importantly nuanced - A desi millennial in onestop Nebraska, is going to be much different than one from Reston, VA. But, whatever you sketch, that individual will be mostly plausible - Unless you are overlaying the profile of a trumpian millennial from Sugarland,TX onto a tween from Lincoln,NE :D
#11
| Member

Originally posted by: nycank View Post

Yes, and Yes.

The character is a millennial; they bare all on facebook and instagram. Vaibhav is right ! You can mould the character as you please.


Originally posted by: nycank View Post

Tell me where this is situated ! It's importantly nuanced - A desi millennial in onestop Nebraska, is going to be much different than one from Reston, VA. But, whatever you sketch, that individual will be mostly plausible - Unless you are overlaying the profile of a trumpian millennial from Sugarland,TX onto a tween from Lincoln,NE :D


Small coastal town in southern NC, one with a surprisingly strong expatriate community. A young woman who was forced to give up college and a life because her father died shortly before she graduated high school and none of her other siblings are there for their aged mother who has a bevy of health issues. One, because he's a terd and the other, because she lives clear on the other side of the world.
#12
| Suryaa
Some of Jumpa Lahiri’s Indian characters do not serve as representations of Indian culture. In her book Lowland the female protagonist voluntarily disappears without a trace leaving her 2 year daughter in the custody of her poor husband, a wonderful man. Only to resurface after 20 or so years later. The poor girl would be raised by her step father who also happens to be the younger brother of the girl’s biological father. Abandonment of a child by a parent, especially by the mother, doesn’t happen frequently in India or for that matter anywhere else. (To this day Iam not clear why she did what she did. Lahiri fails to give any logical explanation for this behavior.)

Coming to the topic, I must say in so far as sharing one's concerns, woes and bitterness is concerned there aren’t many cultural differences there, all people are just the same. In your narrative the daughter should be same as any young American woman. However the only cultural element I can think of is that mom may remain somewhat self restrained in badmouthing her sons.
#13
| Maha Guru Member
They would never, ever do this with the male sibling. The menfolk of the family are like gods, and criticizing them to outsiders is taboo; just as forbidden as eating beef or crossing the ocean (kala pani). The mother would only mention to outsiders that her son is a doctor, computer scientist, whatever, and is extremely successful. Even if he isn't.

However, criticizing the daughter(s) loudly and at length is perfectly culture-appropriate.

[Since the OP, despite protestations, IS looking for stereotypes, I thought I should provide some.]
#14
| Layperson
And the daughter is American, so she would be spilling her guts and airing the family laundry with acquaintances and airplane seat mates, etc.
#15
| Maha Guru Member

Originally posted by: RPG View Post

They would never, ever do this with the male sibling. The menfolk of the family are like gods, and criticizing them to outsiders is taboo; just as forbidden as eating beef or crossing the ocean (kala pani). The mother would only mention to outsiders that her son is a doctor, computer scientist, whatever, and is extremely successful. Even if he isn't.

However, criticizing the daughter(s) loudly and at length is perfectly culture-appropriate.

[Since the OP, despite protestations, IS looking for stereotypes, I thought I should provide some.]


Really? That is stereotypical.

I speak from experience.. my wife took care of her ailing father during his last days, but even so, we had to to use a nursing home for the last few weeks; when he required constant medical care. Her brother was not economically able to take care of him, and her older sister chose not to, and this raised a lot of gossip amongst friends, cousins, and other relatives. But what the heck... you do what you can, or need to.

Another (female) cousin is currently taking care of her mother, as she is a physician; so her 2 active and financially viable brothers have let her take the lead in caring for her.

Baby boomers, Millenials, everyone cobbles together the best arrangement they can; especially if you are juggling jobs and raising a family. No reason to be ashamed of discussing with outside world.. in fact remaining silent may keep you away from resources that would otherwise be available.