The fun and joy of cultural diversity

Written by Lord Lansdowne

Remember when your mother used to say to you "don't date people of different cultures"? It wasn't because she was racist, or because skin colour was such a big deal. No. As I grow older I begin to realize what my family meant. It's a total pain in the ass to deal with your racially different girlfriend's family.

Now, before I start getting flame mail (a man can dream, can't he?) for my oh-so-blind views and my sheer racial discrimination (it's because I'm white, isn't it?), I'm referring mostly to families that come from that part of the world called Asia (not that the rest of the world is any better--just look at mine). Their traditions and their close-mindedness can, in the majority of cases, have you bang your head against the wall in no time at all.

We're talking about cultures where things work something like this: girl is born, trained to work in the house, performs all duties in the house, then is married off, goes to live with mother & father in law, and her husband. She serves all three. Then the kids are born. She serves the above plus the kids. The moment she does something wrong, she's stoned to death (or burnt "accidentally" in some kitchen accident).

But I like how the men can do no wrong. Oh wait, unless they're gay. Then they get stoned to death.

Ideally, in Canada we're a whole bunch of different cultures crammed into a tiny space (everyone lives next to the US-Canada border, because the rest of Canada is just too damn fucking cold) and in theory, we're all Canadians, and all happy to share and welcome other cultures.

Ideally, Communism works too.

The reality of it all is that we have pockets of mini-communities that interact as little as possible with the other ones. At school this was as obvious as the suicide-pink walls and hysteria-blue doors. All the Italians hunged around each other. All the Spanish hunged around their fellow Spanish speaking people. And so on. Trying to migle with any of these groups and not having any racial or cultural relation to them, was like waving your testicles in front of a meat grinder and not feel a sense of discomfort.

I felt a little left out, especially considering that having such a Heinz 57 varities-like background, I belonged into every one of their groups. I never seemed to have that sense of pride of belonging to this or that background, and if I did, I'd have to be proud of at least six of them, most of which, from what I can tell, definately don't like each other.

I digress. I've been dating, to my surprise, the same girl for the past four years (that's a record beaten by 3 and a half years). Davinder is Indian (as in, from India. Columbus was wrong, and I got scolded enough times by people to remember it). She's wonderful (she puts up with me) and she's open minded (a rarity in any culture). Unfortunately her family, the moment they discovered about me, began to remind me that, yes, we're all Canadian, but I'm not Indian.

So they quickly went into action and started off with Plan A: arranged marriages. Now this is delightful stuff. You show off your daughter, show off what she comes with (television, vcr, washing machine, and a four year warranty), and whoever find this deal appropriate enough, will introduce their son, to her parents. Sometimes the soon-to-be-married actually get to meet before their wedding day. Others, are not so lucky.

My girlfriend had to meet so many guys last year, mostly out of respect for her parents, and endure the possible mother-in-law commentary. You can pretty much select one of the following to get an idea of how they went:
a) having her hair too short (only half way down her shoulders)
b) being too fat, (a size 10)
c) having the ability of independent thoughs (rebellious!)
d) ability to create coherent sentences that showed logic andintelligence when speaking (she puts her future husband to shame, since he can't even hold the paper right-side-up)
e) the four year warranty just wasn't good enough
f) the previous two plus speaking in the presence of the future mother in law.

Cuz, as you know, talking to your future mother in law is an offence punishable by death.

I can't wait to hear people defend arranged marriages. "They're so much more successful!" Uh huh. When asking for a divorce gets you stoned to death, you can see why they last.

Things went quiet for a while. Then Plan B hit. "Scare the evil white-boy away" plan. This works very simply: you are invited to your girlfriend's house, where you will be examined, questioned, dissected and offered tea, all in the name of how serious I am with Davinder.

This, in front of her entire family.

I was thinking of saying: "Davinder.. good" and make humping movements.
Or "More serious than you, you over-bearing zealots who are traditional when convenient . Sorry, did I just say that out loud?"Or even "Serious about Davinder? Damn right! Let me tell you [graphic desciption of sex life follows]"

Or maybe not. Because the lovely meeting will include a 6 and half feet tall Indian grandfather, made taller by a turban, and that the first thing he says to you is that he will never accept you, never come to your wedding and disown her grandaughter.

"Disown me? That's harsh. Tell me, what did you make after taxes last year? Tell you what, if you ever need a few bucks, just call me."

Sheehs. And I thought we were just dating.