Rohit Khare (
Fri, 6 Jun 1997 21:46:39 -0400

[Ed. context removed by RK, 6/10/97]

Well, here's what I was going to say, for better or worse. As you know I've
been to a string of marriages in the last month, and it certainly has
gotten me to thinking. I have a pretty strong hunch I'm not going to be
married until I'm a "big success" after my PhD, in my 30s. What sucks is
that in the meantime, I haven't been out in the world, either. I live a
very sheltered, closed, focused existence which is a lot of fun to brag
about but ultimately feels like I'm running up the bigger emotional debt
than any Platinum card can cover. Every time I go see a new beach or close
some deal or generally feel full of myself, I'm overcome with a great need
to share it with someone -- and can't. I have so many places on my mind's
map marked off, "someday we'll do this together." One of the things that
struck me most from your reception was Susan's ringing declaration that *of
course* you were going to be 30 and successful before you married -- and
certainly none of those 'boring' guys from high school :-)

It made think about how I share the same myth. And what's miraculous is
that, not even a few years into your ascending arc, you found Reed and
happiness. You can't wish for a more happy ending/beginning for anyone.
Nothing says we have to buy into this majoritarian American view that
marriage of the young isn't 'equal' enough -- that only battle-scarred
30-somethings can marry. I think it's great what Seung found -- or even my

Well, looping back to me, my favorite topic, the other feeling which hit
home from my world tour of weddings was how remote my own 'storybook'
ending seems to be. If I want to depress my drinking buddy, I try computing
the odds. Put aside the fact that I'm fat, or conspicously inept, like a
classic geek. If I want to find a nice Indian girl, I'm really up for it.
First, my personality is.... ummm... unique. That's certainly
self-selecting, but in an Indian culture which doesn't know how to deal
with the maverick, it's much more serious. I'm also not a doctor or lawyer,
which also excludes a certain slice of the market, but that's fine, I've
little more than contempt for Indians who think that those are the only two
professions for their son(-in-law). It's a symptom of the more fundamental
truth that the Indian community in America was founded by a cohort of
very-like-minded highly-trained brain-drainers in the post-'65 immigration
reform era -- with their upper-class 1960's morals frozen in amber.

The problem is that (I think) I want to meet someone who's equally
outspoken, ambitious, worldly, curious -- all traits which are still rare
in our sexist culture. Even of the very small cohort of, say,
college-educated Indian-American women, a distressingly large number still
aren't very bold. What Americanization has brought us, though, is a large
cohort of 'Valley girls'. All in all, out of
900 million Indians, there aren't more than, say, 5-10,000 women a LOT
ofIndian men are competing for... and frankly, if I were them (as in the
case of some of my cousins), I still wouldn't go for (still sexist, still
meek mama's boys) Indian guys. The majority of my cousins have married
white American men.

Which is the heart of the tension. Some days I feel "white" in every way --
except that no one else sees me that way. It's tough to be completely out
of the majority culture of other people your age -- bars, clubs, cafes.
It's so dreamy sometimes, how integrated you can feel before the rude
awakening that you're NOT a part. The movie _Kama Sutra_ wasn't too
spectacular, or even half as 'sexy' as some Hollywood fare, but I saw it
three times because I was so amazed at the image of *intelligent*,
*thoughtful* Indian love story. So much of our media (mainly films) is
trashy and absurd and flat-- and the literature is nonexistent. I was drawn
to KS because it was the first time, in a world of MTV videos and
supermodels and starlets, I was ever exposed to Indians as, well, men and
women. It's made me think a lot about my thing for blondes :-)

The tension is however much I feel not-a-part of the culture I've grown
in, I feel equally not-a-part of my own. I flinch at Indianness -- I feel
even *more* apart in a room of Indians than in a room of white
professionals (and white is still the byword in senior engg. circles --
multiculturalism is still bottled up on the campus). I'm not-a-part of
Indian pop culture, history, or even the petty details of everyday life.
I'm already a fly on
the wall as a geek in mainstream life -- remember that (cherished) crack
of Julian's: "you just don't watch TV the same way we do, do you, Rohit?"
-- but doubly confused by the world culturally.

Of course, it's no surprise that the conventional storybook may not apply to me. I've come to relish the unconventional roadblocks of my life. But now you know why I'm so dedicated to my work -- for now, it *is* the meaning of my life.