Category Archives: pakistani parents

Having Desi friends requires parental approval and support

Having American friends is easier than Desi friends. As long as you have similar interests and are willing to make an effort, a friendship with an American is quite possible. Being friends with Desi’s is a lengthier and more demanding process. Not only is there heavy parental involvement, but also the constant worry that secrets will be revealed and reputation ruined.

Having Desi friends can be very formal and restricting. I know an 18-year-old girl, let’s call her Reema, who still only befriends and associates with those her mom approves of. She plans activities and trips for the girls to do together.

Reema’s entire group of friends is Desi. All her friends are Muslim, Pakistan and upper-middle class living within 10 minutes of each other. This is quite convenient, but it is hindering the girl’s tolerance and understanding of others.

When Reema was 12-years-old, she was best friends with Komal. Their mom’s had an argument that got out of hand, ending their friendship. Reema is told that Komal belongs to a corrupted family and she is a bad influence. She is no longer allowed to be friends with Komal.

The moms decide to keep their differences hidden and are not obvious in their circle of friends. Meanwhile, Reema bad mouths and starts rumors about Komal. All the girls take Reema’s side and Komal loses all of her friends. Komal is lonely and confused. She becomes depressed and starts taking interest in other things. To this day, neither girls know the reason why they are no longer friends anymore.

My reasoning behind explaining this story is to show that parents can sometimes be too involved in their children’s friendship. Children lose their identity and cannot base decisions on their own judgement. Reema does not see if her personality clicks with someone else’s. Her mother chooses her friend’s for her.

It is a good idea for parents to know who their children spend their time with, but they should not hover to the extent that they cloud their children’s ability to form opinions of other people and develop friendship based on their own preferences. Sometimes Desi parents can be too overprotective, which can negatively impact the child in the long run.



Successfully arranging marriages depends on how good the arranger is

arranged marriage
Depending on the circumstance, having an arranged marriage can be beneficial or harmful.

The concept of arranged marriage is like a business dealing. This transaction is settled by older men and women close to the bride and groom-to-be. Family, education, occupation, appearances are all factors that play a part in deciding whether or not two people are a good match. Love comes secondary, after marriage.

Usually by the time a girl’s family receives a rishta, marriage offer, from a millionaire family in New York City whose son is a good looking cardiologist from Harvard Medical school, the family has agreed that he is the one. On paper, everything sounds great. This man has everything going for him. This man, and this rishta, is one in a million. The answer is ‘yes.’

But what about compatibility? What is his personality like? What about hers? What are her hobbies and interests? How many children does she want? Are there any restrictions he will put on her? What does he do for fun? What are her dreams? What are his expectations?

Often times, these questions are not considered in the decision-making process. But that’s okay. He’s a cardiologist from Harvard with a Jaguar in his driveway. It’s all manageable. It’s all okay.

In many cases, the rishta others find for us is better than what we could find ourselves. What we could find the tough Western way–through love.

I know of a few instances in which girls have married well due to their parents networking skills. One girl barely passed high school and wasn’t interested in continuing education, let alone be a stay-at-home chef or pious girl. This girl with constant stories of her hookups all of a sudden receives a rishta for a doctor, the son of wealthy business owners. She accepts. Her plan is to never work a day in her life. Score!

Please keep in mind that her parents are smooth talkers and strong personalities. They made it happen. Can yours?

In some cases, the parents are not the most suitable players in finding a rishta.

Another girl I know is a hard worker who just finished medical school. She is beautiful, funny and fair-skinned. She belongs to an upper middle class family. Her parents are nice and honest. They do not play tricks to get a rishta. They do not lie, embellish or put on fake appearances for the sake of marriage. Surprisingly, this results in no rishta.

This girl comes from a family that opposes dating or even interacting with the opposite gender. With her attractive looks and her intelligence, I’m sure if she found herself a decent boyfriend, she would have no problem. She could instantly find herself a like-minded man who had similar beliefs and values as her. She could find her own rishta.

Unfortunately, her family is troubled by her not having a single decent proposal yet. They are ready to settle her marriage for someone who might not be suitable for her. In this case, if she were to find her own partner, she could do better for herself.

All in all, it the business of arranging marriages depends on who your spokespeople are and how well they can “sell” you. It is up to them to embellish your achievements and present you in an attractive manner. Do all you can, do all you want, just hope you have the right people to represent you.


You Can Change Yourself, But You Can’t Change Your Desi’s

Today I was reminded again (for the million and one time) how huge of a disappointment I am. My mom told me that one of my cousin’s wife’s cousin has graduated from medical school this summer. He’s looking to move to America and now that he’s done with his studies and settling, he will be in need of a wife. He wants a wife who is a doctor as well. And what can I do about this? What should I do knowing that I don’t meet his demands? I just don’t make the cut. I failed to pass the first round. I’m not in medical school and I don’t plan on it. And that’s why my mom gets mad at me. Aunties secretly resent me for not being on par with their expectations. And I just hope I make it big in whatever field it is that I have chosen. So that I can prove all the doubters wrong.

It really does aggravate me when not just my mother but all the Desi aunties and uncles and perhaps even their sons are against me. It’s as if it’s me and my (degree) against the world. And I can’t take it. I may act very sure of my choice to not be a pre-med student, but honestly I am not as sure it is the best thing for me. Already I can see rejections from people who haven’t even seen me or know anything about me. Already I can see them dismissing me as if I am some low-life with a bird brain.

So here I am, ranting about a situation that is beyond my control. They say you can’t change others, but you can change yourself. So to ameliorate my changes of a better proposal, I have to change my major and future plans. I can’t change what others want for their sons/daughters. Since I can’t change myself, I guess I’ll just be prepared to live with the consequences.


Desi Mom’s In America Hate America

Is it just my Mom or does your Mom hate you too? My Mom is always mad at me. I do everything she says but I’m never good enough. We’re always talking about how stupid I am and how I’m ruining my life. My Mom doesn’t agree with my friendships with non-Muslim people.

I love my friends for who they are. Not what religion they are. I do not discriminate. I think my Mom shouldn’t either since she is reaping benefits from a non-Islamic nation. It is agreed in my household that our lives would be much worse were we still in Pakistan. We’d be bound living with numerous others a house under the “extended family” system. I wouldn’t be able to pursue an education as freely as I have now. And I wouldn’t be able to do everything without much hesitation.

My Mom is always yelling at me that I am turning Western. That each day I am getting older the situation is getting worse. She’s always talking about how no one will approve of marrying their sons to me if I can’t serve chai right, if I don’t look proper, if I am seen talking to boys, etc. It’s ridiculous how much I go through everyday. Everyday I am told there is something wrong with me. She never thinks it has to do with her parenting or with trust. No.

Desi mothers have made up their minds that their children are doomed because they are being exposed to foreign culture. They need to understand that if we fail in life, it just might be partially their fault. They need to know that by imposing impossible restrictions on us, they push us farther from their and tempt us to be rebels. They need to know. They really need to know.


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Dear Desi Parents

This is a letter to all Desi parents who are immigrants to this country and are raising children in a land they didn’t know as they themselves were growing up.

Dear Desi Parents,

I am going to being by thanking you so much for the time you will spend reading this letter. It means a lot to me.  Hopefully some of it makes sense.  If it doesn’t then I don’t exactly blame you.

Every day you remind me of how grateful I should be for living in this country.  You tell me I am privileged for for having air conditioning and the means to attend school without having to walk miles and miles each day.  I too realize that we are fortunate to live in such conditions.  Whenever you take me back to Pakistan, I complain about the heat or the lack of sufficient technology and that makes me realize how luck I am.  So thanks for reminding me from time to time, but please don’t overdo it so much that I start to feel guilty about the life I live.

Secondly, you often compare me to my relative back home in Pakistan.  Yes, I know they are great. And that they are standing up for themselves even whilst Pakistan is in economic and political turmoil.  But please understand that it is impossible for me to be like them since we are thousands of miles apart and live in completely different places.  And please don’t believe everything you hear about my oh-s0-accomplished cousins.  Not all of it is true, some of it is just to impress you.

Another thing is that you should be a bit more understanding of your children.  One of the things that you may not have any experience with is raising your children in a different country.  Never mind a liberal Western country.  You may have attended single sex school and maybe even single sex colleges, but we are not raised in such an environment.  It seems that you want us to be just like the children back home at the time you were growing up.  The truth is that you are in the wrong era and the wrong place.  Double negatives don’t make a positive–only in math.  If you see your daughter chatting with a boy on the phone or on Facebook,  then that doesn’t mean they are dating.  If your daughter is tagged in photos standing next to a boy, that that doesn’t mean they are dating.  If your daughter is texting a boy,then that (again) doesn’t mean they are dating.  It doesn’t mean that they have had any kind of emotional or physical contact worth punishing or accusing your daughter for.

Please don’t get mad at your daughter if she decides to wear a dress to a formal occasion.  They are surely only trying to fit in.  Sometimes they want to look “pretty” too just like they do in the movies and on TV.  Don’t act like it’s the end of the worth if her arms are showing or too much leg.

In addition, please don’t expect the same from us as you were back home.  Not only is the time different, but also the place.  Please know that you were the ones ho decided to move to this country (for whatever reason) and should expect some differences.  If you act like you didn’t see it coming or that it is impossible–then you are simply ignorant and merciless.  Just saying.

I know you love the arranged marriage system, but please acknowledge that in America arranged marriages are frowned down upon amongst our friends.  Even if you plan to have me wedded off that way, when our friends ask me about my plans, I have to say that you don’t believe in arranged marriages that much–all to avoid being made fun of.  In that sense, please know that arranged marriages are not liked in America. And surely, the  fact that I have less control over our lives makes me seem weak.  Please let me chose who I want to marry. It’s me spending the rest of my life (hopefully) with, correct? Please at least allow me to have a say in such matters.


Your Desi Daughter