Thursday, July 12, 2012

Parental Control

Tomorrow, I depart for a trip unlike any trip I have ever taken before. I am traveling with a Brit, Aussie, and Bangladeshi girl – a multicultural group! Even though we haven’t even taken off for the trip yet, I feel like the adventure has already begun. Not only do we have to compromise among our personal interests, but we have to compromise among our cultural differences. It probably does not come as a surprise that the Brit, Aussie, and myself have a fairly easy time striking a middle ground. Planning our travels with my Bangladeshi friend has taught me a lot about how kids grow up here and their loyalties.

This morning, when finalizing travel plans, I thought back to my post from last night had a realization. I neglected to analyze the ubiquitous presence of parents in their children’s lives in Bollywood cinema. The parents in Dilwale  Dulhania Le Jayenge had immense control over their daughter’s life. Every decision she made in life had to be approved by her parents, particularly her father. Rarely do American romantic comedies include parental roles. Certainly there are exceptions, but on the whole, the success of “true love” comes down to two peoples’ decisions. In Bollywood, this is a family affair.

When I bought my ticket for Kathmandu, Nepal, a couple of my Bangladeshi friends laughed about how their mothers prohibited them from traveling there or how their fathers wished they could send body guards with them. When they asked me what my parents thought about my travel plans, I proudly admitted that I had not told my parents yet. They looked at each other in utter dismay. I explained that when I told my parents, they wouldn’t mind and would support my thirst to travel. In fact, they may even want to join me for a weekend at the foot of the Himalayan Mountains if possible (anyone would be crazy not to). I went so far to say, “When I ask my parents for advice, they usually tell me ‘Carmen, you are 21. You can make your own decisions without my approval, and I will support you in whatever you decide.’”

Sometimes, this responsibility can be tiring. It would have been much easier to get denied from all the colleges I applied to so that I would not have had to make a decision. There were a few times this year when I wished my parents, a friend, or a professor could make a decision for me so that I would not have to fret about making the wrong choice myself. Listening to my friends talk about their relationship with their parents, I have become very thankful for my independence. I have 100 percent control over my destiny because my family and culture allow me to. I think back to these desperate times when I have wanted others to decide for me, and I know I will never be able to think like this again.

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