Friday, July 16, 2010

Crash Course in Desi

I guess that since getting married to a desi (he's Pakistani) my understanding of desi Pakistani culture has improved, but I think I'm about to get a real crash course in the coming weeks. Because my husband has lived in the USA for a few years now and is very accommodating to my American background, it's been easy to ignore much of his Pakistani heritage. Not that I do so intentionally, but in 8 months in the USA (and 0 days in Pakistan) it's hard to really understand his culture at any deep level.

But (alhamdulillah!) I'm excited to announce that his family will be visiting us (inshaaAllaah) in coming days to stay for a few weeks. And this means that I'll need to start practicing my Urdu, for starters. When we got married, my husband said he'd teach me Urdu when we went to Pakistan--but it turns out that his family is visiting first. So far, he speaks to me almost exclusively in English so I've only learned a few Urdu phrases--which is nice, since it gets a laugh from sisters and aunties at dinner parties, though seems to confuse children, who tend to give me odd looks without answering. (Are they thinking, "Uh, why's that white girl speaking Urdu?")

I also want to learn about practical customs so that I don't inadvertently offend my gracious in-laws. They're so sweet to me, I'm afraid not just of my own shortcomings but also that even if I try to be helpful it might not come across the way I intend.

So overall the visit is making me both happy and nervous--and slightly frantic as I try to get the house ready. Any advice will be welcome!

1 comment:

Umm Aaminah said...

A'salaamu alaikum sis. I was married to a Muslim Indian and wow, there was so much to learn! I spent 6 weeks in India masha'Allah. I lived like a normal Indian (not high class!), washed my clothes by hand, and walked a mile for clean water. :-)

The hardest part for me wasn't not offending them but not being offended BY them. :-) Culturally they felt extended family was mahrem and thought I should mix freely with the men and remove my hijab inside. So I just remembered my Islamic manners, was kind no matter what, and didn't worry about the rest.

Ma salaam and I am happy you are getting to spend time with your in-laws!