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Kavitha Dispatch

It's a Small World After All!
June 7, 2000

Here in India, family is an important part of life and community. By American standards, I come from a gigantic family - I have over 60 cousins! But for India, this is perfectly normal. I always loved coming to visit India as a child, to see how my cousins had grown up, to hear old stories from my grandparents and dress up in all the fancy new clothes my aunts and uncles would buy me. It always amazed me how much our relatives knew about what I was doing. They always new what I grade I was in. And they had pictures of me that were only a few weeks old. I guess they really wanted to keep in touch!

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My father was the first person in the history of our family to leave India. I was born in the United States, but was able to return to visit my large family in India every few years.

I remember when I was younger, whenever I would visit India we always brought a suitcase full of presents for everyone...nailpolishes, tapes, walkmans, toys, jeans, watches, sneakers, you name it! My relatives would always be full of questions about America, about the music and TV and life in general. Nowadays, though, things are different. We don't bring the suitcases of presents anymore...virtually anything you can get in America is available here now too. My cousins no longer dream of life in America, they can watch it on Friends, or MTV or on the latest Hollywood movie playing at the cinema hall.

My cousins here in India know more about Hollywood and American music than I do. While my sister and I admire all the beautiful Indian clothes and enjoy eating all the yummy Indian food, my cousins prefer wearing Levi's jeans and T-shirts, and joining all the other 'hip', 'modern' kids eating at McDonald's. It's really rather funny to see. East and west rushing past each other searching for something different.

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I'm so thankful of the privilege to have learned and benefited from two so very different cultures. Is your family from someplace outside the United States? Do you know someone that is? Have you learned anything new from them?


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

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