Thursday, September 30, 2004

Aha! A topic I have been thinking on for quite some time but somehow people decide not to talk abt it out here. Is it very difficult to accept (at least in San Diego) that the ABCDs (American Born Confused Desis aka second generation Indians) and FOBs (Fresh Off the Boat aka grad students and techies) don't exactly socially interact with each other? Before I proceed any further I have to accept that both ABCD and FOB are derogatory terms but who said I am trying to be prim :)

Well, the whole thing started when Saket and I informed a new grad student that his dream of gelling with the ABCD crowd is not gonna happen in San Diego. I've had discussions on this with lotsa people and apparently there are two divisions - small university towns where most people know each other and this social bifurcation doesn't exist and places like San Diego where there are enough ABCDs to not make them require the company of fellow brown skinned FOBs. Come on let's face it - if you could choose from dusky husky nose-ringed girl (aka std ABCD) or "specsy" somber lap-topped guy (aka me) isn't the choice of social preference a no brainer :) However, strangely in UCSD, most ABCDs hang out with other fellow ABCDs - still falling prey to a myopic tendency of community building - something I feel other Americans are largely free of. I've been told that even out here people try to get their children married to other second generation Indian children of their own community when neither speaks the language etc etc. Anyway I am digressing - I am here to talk abt the fact that out here in San Diego the interaction between an ABCD and a FOB is limited to:

ABCD: Are you from India?
FOB: Yes
ABCD: Oh I went to India when I was three.
FOB: Yes I was there then.

We even have two different Indian Associations for the two groups - I still have friends who don't accept that the first and second generation Indians don't exactly mingle - but then they are the same friends, who always hang out with me - pretty much proving the point.

A final mention on this topic has to be about my good friend Saket (already mentioned in the begining). The guy is an Indian who was raised neither in India nor the US and came here for his undergrads - so neither do the ABCD's welcome him, and most FOBs think he is alien too - poor chap - nothing is as interesting as getting him drunk and hearing him narrate his plight :)

P.S. People reading this blog from other places in US - would love to know if things are any diff in your places.

i have tons of ABCD friends..and i get along with them reasonably well. so am not sure i share ur experience. most of my ABCD friends are from the UK though..making it an even stranger situation. but then again, there are way too few indians (FOBs) here for us to actually form a group of our own.
Anatara - UK based Indians don't qualify coz of the A in ABCD :) - moreover, I know of other places where things are different too. It's just that in SD it's pretty sad. I should add that according to my discussions with others, things are like this mainly in CA - because of the large number of Indians in this area, allowing both ABCDs and FOBs to form large groups. Alo I am stating a phenomena but not blaming either group for it.

no, sorry for not clarifying. these ARE ABCDs..but I met them in the UK. they have their own issues as well. many of them feel, that WE, the more authentic Indians, will not accept them and so they stay away. Many of them don't always know on what level to interact with us. but i've found that once u're friends with them, many of them realise that we (esp those of us from a certain socio-economic background in india) have loads in common with them.

the UK Asians- the BBCDs are another matter altogether. I have some good friends among them, but many of them look down on FOBs. Not that ABCDs dont though. One of my friends was told by an ABCD; "My parents left Bombay 20 years ago. Thank bloody God for that." My friend, who's Indian, replied with: "Indeed. Thank God." But you get the point...
I reached here via a Google search for "kutte ka baccha".
You show as the first result on Google.
Hi Sagnik,

I just wrote a very detailed post on this topic on my blog. You might wanna read it ;) I believe its rather an issue of class distinction and perhaps low self-esteem when people avoid interactions of the same race and judge upon generation gap/lifestyle. I'm like your friend, whose neither a fob or an abcd, just someone stuck in between trying to comprehend the desi mentality. :)
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