Sunday, April 29, 2007

The third way

In "White Skin, Brown Soul," an HT reporter takes on an interesting phenomenon -- white, natural-born citizens of India (primarily "the children of foreign immigrants — missionaries, social scientists, businessmen — who came to India in the 1950s and the 1960s").

Reporter Riddhi Shah exposits, "Much has been written about the NRI experience -- their conflicts, their battles, their struggle to come to terms with their mixed identities. But the stories of these reverse NRIs -- white on the outside and brown on the inside, 'white chocolate' to the NRI's 'coconut' -- have gone largely untold."

The story itself leaves a lot to be desired -- it's only about 300 words and attempts to synthesize the narratives of five or six people, all without really offering context or relaying the particularities of any one person's situation. Still, the topic poses interesting questions about identity and belonging in a world in which traditional boundaries are increasingly blurred. It stings when I hear people calling me gori and firang, and when children point, laugh, stare, sing songs. But I can only imagine how it would feel to have grown up in the subconty, to consider oneself Indian, and to experience the same day in and day out, endless explanations of life never quite either here nor there.


jaago said...

Wow, interesting change of perspective. I really never thought what people raised in India, looking like foreigners must go through!

April said...

Dear Zoey,

We'd love you to list your expat blog on our new website, to help us build a great resource for all women living overseas.

Please take a look at our site at:



SBT said...

This would make a great book....if you want to get the ball rolling, I'd be happy to help :) The thing is though, whether you're black, white, brown, red, or yellow...if you're a minority, you do feel like an outsider. That's really sad. There are so many issues with identity, double consciousness, TCKs. The whole concept of 'fitting the norm', really has to change in the 21st century, right?

Deirdré Straughan said...

The reporter also left out a salient fact: everyone mentioned except Tara Chowdhry is an alumnus of Woodstock School (as is Tom Alter himself, as am I - Chris Starr is my classmate). Hardest of all can be leaving the all-embracing multiculturalness of Woodstock for a world which is totally baffled by you - this happens to Woodstockers regardless of our skin color, nationality, and eventual destination.

BTW, I will be passing through Delhi at least twice this year because my own daughter is going to Woodstock. Would love to meet you!

Zoey said...

Hi April,

I'm already a mentor on Expat Women, and my blog is listed on the site. Someone else already got to me!

Deirdre -- pleased to meet you! I'd love to chat, but my experience here is (sadly) winding to a close, as I'm being transferred to another of my company's offices. However, since my husband is Indian and so much of his family is here -- and I still have some business in the subconty -- perhaps our paths will cross yet! Thanks for offering the insight. I was so intrigued by the story, but it didn't have any meat to it!