This I Believe

Vidur - Briarcliff Manor, New York
Entered on June 3, 2007
Age Group: Under 18

“I am an Indian”

My grandfather once told me “Travel around the world, live in exotic places, meet people of all color and race, but always remember you are an Indian, and will always remain an Indian.” This advice given by my grandfather has helped me be what I am today and has embedded a true belief in what I like to define as “preservation of culture.” My life endeavors have been a true test to my belief. Traveling around the world, living in London, surrounded by Islamic culture, attending a British school, and now finishing of high school in the most “hip place” in the world, New York, many ask me “What are you?” With my head high up, I proudly respond, “I am an Indian.”

Saying “I am an Indian” doesn’t make me an Indian for not only my words but also my actions define me as a person. It’s one thing to be part of Asian club, and participate in International Festival, for anyone can do that. However, I reach another other level of cultural and traditional upholding when I go to McDonalds with my friends but don’t eat beef, or when I touch the feet of my elders as a gratitude of respect, regardless of those watching. It is when I celebrate Diwali with my family instead of going to my friend’s graduation party or go to the temple not only to worship but also to learn about my religion, culture and morals that I can and should say in the most emphatic, exquisite and grand manner “I am an Indian.”

Everyone faces obstacles, for a life without obstacles is probably a life without purpose and goal. In preserving my culture I have faced challenges, obstacles, hostility and enmity; however, in the process I have also developed an identity and a character. It’s hard to maintain such a strong belief when my own friends and family back in India doubt me. To be myself, is to prove them wrong and that’s what I did. It is my grandparent’s golden anniversary, a memorable and unforgettable event. Such a grandiose and pretentious event came with a flamboyant and extravagant set of activities and preparation. It is an event embellished and lavished with culture, tradition and custom. It is just the event for just the belief I am hoping to exemplify. I wear traditional clothes, I perform traditional rituals and I pay heed to the culture around me with the utmost reverence and respect. In return, my acts are unjustly attributed to the enforcement of my parents. I persevere and in the end win the challenge, a challenge I had never really lost in the first place. On stage, in front of the whole audience I give a speech for my grandparents expressing my well wishes in Hindi and then go on to play traditional Hindi songs on the guitar commemorating the moment.

I believe in my culture, race and my country. “Jai Hind.”