As Masala celebrates its 10th anniversary, we’re feeling both nostalgic, and proud of our community’s evolution over the last decade. We’ve become stronger, more dynamic and more open-minded than ever, with no signs of slowing down. Not saying we’re perfect, Ashima still can’t drive a car and Shruti hasn’t learnt how to ride a bike yet, but progress is progress, and it should always be celebrated.
By Ashima Sethi and Shruti Kothari
Remember the time when drinking with your parents seemed off limits? We all knew our parents drank, and were almost certain they knew we drank, too. We’d slyly order whisky cokes at weddings, convinced that the adults wouldn’t know, completely naïve of the fact that whisky smells really strong regardless of what it’s mixed with. And yet, the conversation of drinking together continued to be taboo for a long time. Things have only just started to change. Keep your eyes peeled and you’ll spot more people drinking with their parents during celebrations, and dinners out—more often than not— involve wine or whisky, or beers if you’re at a Thai pochana (outdoor eatery).
What hasn’t changed: the uncles’ all-time favourite drink of whisky “with one ice cube and just a little bit of water.”
The last decade has seen the rapid rise of social media. For a while, platforms like Facebook and Instagram were the coolest things around for teenagers who’d upload albums of studio photos and atrocious afterschool selfies just to be ‘cool.’ However, as times have changed, social media is now a tool used by everyone. You have hip moms posting holiday photos with hashtags like #familyvacay2019 and #luvmyhubby, and newly-engaged couples who use platforms to announce their nuptials; even our various Indian associations and temples have their own social media accounts! Never thought you’d RSVP to a puja online, did you?
What hasn’t changed: the multitude of e-cards, chain mails and warnings about “joining Whatsapp groups associated with ISIS” that you probably receive from your relatives daily.
DEGREES FOR DAYS
Being a pragmatic people, 10 years ago, the norm was to finish high school and then either get engaged, or join the family business; further education was rare. Now, our society is decorated with innumerable Bachelor’s degrees, Master’s degrees, PhDs, MDs and much more, often from prestigious universities at home and abroad. We have become a deeply educated community, which helps us diversify into a variety of fields, or bring fresh perspective into our own, allowing us to progress further and faster.
What hasn’t changed: no matter the degrees, our elders still think they know better! (To be fair, they usually do know better).
Not so long ago, it was normal to send our young to boarding school in India, where they would gain knowledge about both Mathematics and their mother tongues. Letters, emails and the rare phone calls made up much of the communication. Now, we usually send our kids to local international schools, so parents can see their kids more, and kids can enjoy the comforts of home while still gaining a world-class education (thanks, parents!)
What hasn’t changed: no matter the institution, parents, upon seeing a 98 percent grade, still want to know where the remaining two percent went.
FAMILY DINNER 101
Eating out used to be a luxury reserved for special occasions. We’d flock to places like Xing Fu, where our parents would separate us into the adults’ and youngsters’ tables and we were forced to socialise with our relatives (even the ones we didn’t like so much). Our parents would order one (maybe two) of everything on the menu, they’d fuss about the right level of spice, and were always the loudest people in the restaurant. But now, with the popularity of food delivery and the shift in restaurant culture, the golden age of family dinners have transitioned from a rare occurrence to the norm (the classic case of: “we didn’t tell the helper what to make today, so let’s just eat out”).
What hasn’t changed: the argument everyone’s dads have over paying the bill.
In the last few years, Thai-Indians have made big strides towards living healthier by altering their diets, playing sports, hitting the gym and joining fitness programmes. Remember when Sundays were for father and son football leagues, and the only exercise happening on a weekday morning were the elders who headed to the park to gossip under the guise of a ‘jog’? Well, nowadays it seems like everyone’s getting in on the action, whether it is after work boot camp for moms or yoga sessions for millennials, it’s great to see more Indians making health a priority.
What hasn’t changed: our beloved uncles still flaunt their paunches regardless of how much they promised to hit the gym.
INDIAN WOMEN EXCELLING
It’s a known fact that Indian women are strong. We’re mothers, wives, daughters, and over the years, we’ve become businesswomen, too. As time goes on, more Indian women are breaking through stereotypes, choosing to follow their dreams of having careers in diverse fields like law, art, design, wellness, finance, hospitality, education and entrepreneurship. You name the field, and we bet we can name a strong woman in our Thai-Indian society that is well on her way to conquering it.
What hasn’t changed: the unequal treatment of men and women. We’re still made to come ‘home on time’ and we’re still quizzed about why we have to be out late, even if it’s time spent at the office!
THE NEXT GEN
Our mummies-to-be have gone from being coy and confined to bed rest and a diet of bottle gourd, to prenatal yoga classes, gender reveal parties with telling pink or blue cake fillings or confetti, and maternity photoshoots which proudly show off their baby bumps. Even better, babymoons have become like second honeymoons, with couples celebrating their final days of carefree living before the paradigm shift of parenthood is upon them! And when it comes to distributing celebratory sweets, barfis are out, and brownies are in!
What hasn’t changed: if you’re recently married, you can still expect the standard “Any good news?” Also, we still need the biggest room in the maternity ward to host the typical 1,841 visitors.
THE RELAXATION SITUATION
Gone are the days of quick trips to Bang Saen and Bang Pu, or weekends in Pattaya! If it has to be local, then Instagram-friendly hotspots include luxe locations in Hua Hin, Phuket or even Bang Krachao for a more athletic aesthetic. But borders are no bar! A zippy getaway to Hong Kong, Singapore or even Bali has become commonplace in our community, with longer holidays spent in Europe, America or Australasia. It’s amazing to see what global citizens we’ve become!
What hasn’t changed: no matter the destination, we still pack our bags to the brim, usually with Asian snacks. Still, no trip abroad is complete without a massive hunt for a good bowl of daal.
We’ve been hosting and attending complex, multi-day weddings rich with traditions, emotions, and exuberance since the dawn of time. However, in the last decade, the standards have risen dramatically, with sangeets like professional recitals, five-star venues with pillow menus, floral arrangements that cost more than the bride’s jewellery, coconuts branded with wedding logos, celebrity performers, and baraats involving Ferraris, alcohol trucks, and DJs for the party of the year. It’s now surprising if there aren’t bespoke baskets of snacks in the rooms to welcome you and make sure you don’t get hungry in between the daily eight catered meals.
What hasn’t changed: Pundit Lalit. He got your parents married, he got you married, and you know he’ll be there for your kids, too