East-West Music Collaboration

Bollywood music airs a lot in Nepal. The radio is full of Hindi songs, and the TV has several channels that show only Hindi music videos. I’m not a huge fan of Bollywood movies, and Tri absolutely refuses to watch them, but I do like some of the pop music that’s produced in India. Recently, I’ve been hearing a lot of Hindi songs that weave in Western melodies or combine original Hindi lyrics and tunes with Western pop songs. I’ve heard at least two Hindi songs on the radio that are sung in both Hindi and Spanish, like “Senorita” from the movie “Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara”…

There’s also a song that my brother-in-law really likes called “Dildara Dildara.” Some of the lyrics and melody have been taken from the American song, “Stand By Me” and infused with Hindi lyrics and some original melody…

Another one of my new favorite Hindi songs, “Tu Meri Chamak Challo,” is sung by Akon (the Senegalese-American singer) in both Hindi and English. I think it’s from the same movie as the song above…

I don’t know if Akon’s song is airing in the US, but other America-based musicians have also collaborated with South Asian musicians or used South Asian beats in their music and successfully distributed their songs in the US. So not only is Western pop music being incorporated into South Asian music, South Asian music is influencing Western songs as well. Jay-Z worked with the British-Indian artist Punjabi MC to produce “Mundian Tu Bach Ke,” featuring Bhangra tunes (from the Punjab region in Pakistan and India), and Missy Elliot (the American singer) also incorporated Bhangra music into her song “Get Ur Freak On.”

I really enjoy music that incorporates bits and pieces of many styles. It always makes for great listening.

Missing Some Things from Home

I haven’t talked to an American in weeks (outside of skype and gchat). I have been meeting lots of really awesome, friendly people around my age, but I miss connecting over American culture. I also miss food from home…My cravings seem to come in waves. I’ll totally forget about whole wheat bread or home-made cake or chicken noodle soup and then I’ll see something or smell something and it all comes back. Last week, someone with sweet-smelling perfume walked by. It happened to really smell like sticky buns, and after I got a wiff, all I could think about was those delicious gooey desserts.

A Turkish lady I know told me that it took her two years to adjust to life in the US, but it never really felt like home. When I came to Nepal for the first time, everything seemed strange and new, but slowly things became more normal, and I didn’t look on with wide eyes every time the morning meal was being cooked. But there are some things that I probably won’t ever feel comfortable with. The traffic is one thing. Other things have to do with culture and tradition. At least in the Baun and Chhetri castes, women (particularly mothers) traditionally serve other family members first, making sure they are fed, and then eat after everyone else has finished. Because of rules about jutho (where after you start eating with your hands, you can’t reach to take seconds; someone else has to do it for you), this method may be practical. But it’s never going to feel right to me.

I miss some aspects American culture, but I never have to fear that I’ll forget my traditions or that my children will never learn them. It’s different for those who move to the US. In Nepal, the channels on TV are fulls of English language programs, and cuisine from the US is served in plenty of restaurants. If I raise children in Nepal, they will learn both Nepali and English. If I raise children in the US, they might speak a little bit of Nepali but probably won’t be fluent. Not all immigrants to the US want to maintain the culture or language of the country they come from. But for those who do want to preserve these things, it can be very hard, particularly in the face of discrimination and anti-immigrant feeling.

I know that things will continue to get easier, and I’m hoping my cravings for the American food will diminish. I also have Tri! Not only does he understand my American mannerisms and culture, but he’s also really supportive, and when I’m having a bad day, he always makes feel better.