Coconut Generation

The Next Generation of Asian Indians

Why coconuts are not getting married? April 25, 2006

Filed under: Family,Youth — Sam George @ 4:45 am

Few weeks ago, I spoke at one of the PARIVAR’s family seminars in Chicago. The seminar was geared towards immigrant parents with marriageable children. This was first of its kind seminar that I have ever heard of or spoken at in the Indian community.

Topic given to me was – “What does your children want to tell you ….and don’t know how?” In less than 20 minutes, I had to communicate all that singles think about relationship and marriage to their parents. Not an easy task at all. But in light of research on the Coconut generation book and experience of many leaders who have spoken at many of our singles & marriage preparation events, I put together 10 things the second generation would like to tell their parents about their marriage plans.

All parents dream of seeing their children happily married. For the immigrant Indian community there is a heightened sense of desire when it comes to children’s marriage. No matter how much education, wealth or success they have achieved, when their children remain unmarried, they consider themselves as a failure. The parents also experience pressure from their peers to live up to the societal expectations. To the status conscious immigrant generation, getting children married at the correct time (whatever that means) is meant to enhance their own standing in the community.

I tried to communicate the young generations’ fears, apprehension, expectation and perception of marriage to their parents. I tried to address issues like why your children are turning down most of the proposal they bring, why they do not want traditional Indian marriages, growing gender imbalance, changing gender biases and some contemporary trends of the second generation when it comes to seeking marriage alliances. Many in the coconut generation do not want marriages like that of their parents or are unable to find mate like their parents. Some are unwilling to consider marrying from
India, while many are forced to look outside of Indian community for their life partners (hard for immigrant parents to digest).

Most American-born or raised women hold a more egalitarian and romantic notion of marriage and are not willing to settle for traditional desi bahu. With many marriage breaking ups in this generation, they even wonders – will they find true love, will marriage work for them, what if I were to remain single? No wonder, getting married has emerged as one of the major struggles of coconut generation in the book. (Item 4 in chapter 6).

Let me know your thoughts. Thanks.


Desi Movies & Coconut as Hybrids April 13, 2006

Filed under: Culture,Youth — Sam George @ 4:28 am

I am not much of a movie buff. But I do enjoy well researched, stimulating, entertaining productions of talented actors/actresses/directors. Fusion of East and West is a growing theme in desi movies. I have made references to and drawn lessons from few in the book – Understanding the Coconut Generation.

Here are some links to the growing breed of films: American Chai, ABCD, American Desi, Bend it like Beckham, Bhaji on the Beach, Bride & Prejudice, Chutney Popcorn, East is East, Flavors, Green Card Fever, The Guru, Harold & Kumar go to white castle, Heat and Dust, Hollywood, Bollywood 

Coconut generation has fused food habits, blended fashion trends, merged the East and the West, amalgamated belief systems and have developed a unique sense of identity, conscience and spirituality. The literature of Indian diaspora tops best-seller lists and fusion food is served at the trendiest restaurants in London and New York. The popular glue of Bollywood (and its siblings Tollywood and Mollywood) has played a crucial role in creating a universal consciousness of the subcontinent.

Biculturalim is a reality with the Coconut generation. It is no more one or the other. Once upon a time, people cherished cultural purity and mixed people were marginalized and despised. Cultural pedigree was preserved, sought after and enforced. But lately, cultural intelligence in multiple worlds is seen as strength. Hybrids possess an exceptional ability to see at once inside and out. The in-between-ness has become a place of power and influence. The margins have become the new center!

Coconut generation will lead us into this new world reality!


Real & Virtual Relationships April 7, 2006

Filed under: Family,Youth — Sam George @ 3:14 pm

Last week, Google entered into online dating/relationships biz.

According to Google Romance homepage, finding soulmate is a search problem! They make everything a search problem and their algorithms offering the perfect solutions for all those problems.

Sadly what they do not get is that -"how many profile you search through and how quickly" matters very little in finding soulmates. Larger pool to fish from and how quickly you can hook a fish is a very poor way in building strong relationships. Finding the right person is much bigger problem than writing a perfect search algorithm. Heart issues can never be reduced to formulas. Finding Mr. Right or Ms. Right often takes precedence over being the right person. Our culture has got it upside like many other things. If you need a princess, you got to be a prince (charming)! It is easier to look for the world from our partner and not willing to be what it takes to have such a partner.

Google is more interested in business than helping build lifelong committed relationships. Online romance is a big market. With repeated browsing and growing single population…they really want to sell advertisements. All their competitors are in this market and they cannot ignore it anymore.

In the last couple of years, online matrimonial and dating sites have become increasingly popular with the Indian community and particularly the Coconut generation. I personally know many who found their spouses on the Internet and are happily married. But, dangers of the online relationship is beginning to show up. Lately we are seeing an increasing levels troubles in net-initiated marriages.

What this generation is getting good at building relationship with masks – under pseudo names/identities. They are good at juggling many identities and Internet provides great tools to do it more efficiently. Virtuality of the internet keeps us from building real relationships. Check here for dark side of Internet and how to establish guidelines to keep you from making online blunders.


Convergence of Two Worlds April 3, 2006

Filed under: Culture,Youth — Sam George @ 5:30 am

In the issue of Newsweek dated March 6, 2006, there was an interesting brief article called Hyphenated Identity by Indian American Pulitzer Prize winning writer Jhumpa Lahiri. I have quoted her in the book also. I appreciated her articulation of struggle of the second generation of Indians in
America, caught up in the tug-of-war of cultures on a daily basis. In this article, she maps out how her self-perception had undergone changes through different stages of life and how she has come to accept her bicultural identity.

She writes:

“As I approach middle age, one plus one equals two, both in my work and in my daily existence. The traditions on either side of the hyphen dwell in me like siblings, still occasionally sparring, one outshining the other depending on the day. But like siblings they are intimately familiar with one another, forgiving and intertwined. When my husband and I were married five years ago in Calcutta we invited friends who had never been to India, and they came full of enthusiasm for a place I avoided talking about in my childhood, fearful of what people might say. Around non-Indian friends, I no longer feel compelled to hide the fact that I speak another language. I speak Bengali to my children, even though I lack the proficiency to teach them to read or write the language. As a child I sought perfection and so denied myself the claim to any identity. As an adult I accept that a bicultural upbringing is a rich but imperfect thing.”

The second generation lives in two worlds simultaneously. Without either, they never feel complete. It is not an ‘either-or’ world, but ‘both-and’ world. They are neither here nor there; yet at both places all the time. Paradoxes paralyses the immigrant generation, but the emerging generation thrive on it. When the former generation always tries to establish order and rationale, the later works to increase disorder and flourishes on chaos. Welcome to the brave new world!!!

Read more on this in chapter 4 titled, Authentic Hybrids: Biculturalism of Coconuts in the book Understanding the Coconut Generation.