There are those certain moments where I have those sudden realizations of where I came from or where I am—sometimes, I wake up in the morning craving the smell of boiled crawfish and gumbo. Other times, I wake up in the morning, in a reflective mood—a meditative state, leaning towards some kind of morning raga.
Sometimes I feel Indian when I’m by myself walking around the city of Lafayette. Sometimes I feel Cajun when someone refers to me as “boo” or “sha.” It is something I can’t really explain—it is some kind of spiritual connection to both cultures despite the confusion I feel being a part of both cultures.
The idea of being Cajun, in the strict sense, comes directly through lineage. However, there seems to be looser sense of being Cajun these days. It is a culture that has welcomed me into their homes, and it is a culture that I welcome wholeheartedly. I mean not to offend Cajuns by calling myself, in some ways a Cajun, and I want to thank them for opening me up to their Cajun traditions—to their joy of life and food and dancing and friendship. The same goes for the Indian community here and my relatives in India—for always looking over me, since childhood—for always accepting me despite not really knowing who I am. There are several similarities between the two cultures, in particular, the love for spicy foods, dancing, and closely knit families, so in some ways, I feel both Indian and Cajun at times—Cajundian. Both cultures, from my observations and experiences, exhibit hard work ethics, while at the same time, a love for celebrations—a love for festivals, and dancing, and of course, no matter the function, there is always great food, whether Indian or Cajun. Each way of life practices kindness and compassion, and each way of life whether intentionally or not, displays qualities of meditation. Place.
I continue to search for some kind of identity—I will continue to dissect myself—perhaps, this is the Indian in me, or perhaps, this is the Cajun I pretend to be, or perhaps, it’s neither. However, I do know that I probably won’t be able to fully explain it—the concept of being Indian or Cajun or both. It is an indescribable feeling more than anything else—it is a feeling and the moments of being, infinite and unending. It is a way of life that only comes naturally and without thought—it’s a chameleon of cultures.