I relish in being uncultured. As in brought up without the norms of a particular culture.

There was a point when I strongly wanted to fit into a certain culture (that of my ex’s) and tried so hard and for so long to “learn” how to be with it but I was woefully unsuccessful. Perhaps I took it (the learning) too academically, but dupattas (do not like those things) never sat properly on me (why are they always either stiff or slippery?), my Urdu would not progress beyond jee and aap keso hai and tika due to a language-acquisition disability (so please pardon the awful transliterations) and my rotis were always rolled into oblonged triangles and came out stiff as dupattas.

I know people get great pleasure from their cultures and all the elaborate details that bring pizzazz to otherwise “bland” rituals but with all honesty, I’d rather take a backseat in a good, solid, American-made Ford when it comes time to participating in the pizzazz. Maybe it’s just because I don’t get most of it and I like to get things.

Maybe it’s because it’s usually the mothers who pass on cultural traditions to their children and my mother was brought up with deliberate simplicity by her father. He was a successful landowner but his children were permitted 2 sets of clothing plus an Eid outfit each. He sent my mother and her 2 sisters to the local men’s only mosque to pray and when they came back because they were barred, he sent them back again and again until they were allowed. He had them busy learning things other than how to drape a dupatta properly. (But my mom does make awesome rotis – like silk dupattas).

My father? Let’s just say he has no idea what a dupatta is.

(By the way, for all of you other uncultured people out there, a dupatta is a long rectangular material that is arranged – usually “artfully” – to adorn an Indian or Pakistani outfit.)

Being uncultured, I get to marvel at all cultures and borrow from whence I please (the non-pizzazzy things). Currently I’m going through a great affinity for things Somali, Japanese and Louisianan. I was just SO happy on my trip to umrah last summer to discover a store in Madinah right across from the Prophet’s mosque which had abayas with traditional ethnic Indian embroidery on them (Muslim fusion fashion at its best) – and best of all, they had NO dupattas.

Of course, we hear enough – with wagging fingers – about people who mix up Islam and cultural traditions. To be fair, at the time that I was trying so hard to be “cultured” properly, no one held the this-is-Islamic-so-you-must-do-it card above my head. It was just always pointed out that this was THE way it was done. Back then, I just loved THE way – it was so exotic and such a novelty (until the dupatta started acting up).

Is there a wisdom in keeping to the “way things are done back home”? I sometimes wonder this because I have no clue as to the “way things are done back home”. Perhaps if I left to live in another country, I would think about the “way things are done back home” here in Canada (like lining up, obeying traffic signals and other such traditions) and start passing them on to my children in a nostalgic fashion.

Until then, I’ll remain uncultured.

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