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The official student news site of Coppell High School

Coppell Student Media

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October 26, 2023

Reconnecting to my culture through bollywood

Oftentimes, music can be a gateway to connection to one’s roots. The Sidekick staff designer Kavya Lokhande thinks growing up listening to Bollywood music has given her a way to reconnect to her culture. (Noor Fatima)

Many of my earliest childhood memories consist of singing along to various Bollywood songs with my family at the top of my lungs. I would mispronounce the lyrics and glare at anyone who dared to correct me. 

To this day songs, such as “Sheila Ki Jawani” from Tees Maar Khanand “Radha” from Student of the Year,  remain my most listened to songs. 

Though, this hasn’t always been the case.

As a child I had a bursting sense of pride in my culture. I spoke Gujarati with confidence and attended every festival knowing I could probably outdance everyone there.

As I grew older, I didn’t necessarily lose any of that pride, I simply was subjected to overly normalized racism. 

It was the little things, the comments that everyone else overlooked. It was the comments of how “harsh” Indian food smells, how the languages sounded “funny” and dozens of overly normalized jokes about Indian accents.

Though I don’t think that comments alone were the reason I started identifying with my culture less, it definitely contributed. 

Despite this, I still consider myself lucky. I grew up in Queens, N.Y, an ethnically diverse space where I still got to experience having a few Indian friends growing up who, like me, grew up with complicated feelings involving their cultural identity.

As you can imagine at this point, Bollywood became a fond but distant childhood memory. I was too focused on school and my social life to lend a thought to staying fluent in my native tongue or attending any cultural events.

As a preteen I started to feel as if I was only allowed to either have a bubbling social life or a proper connection to my roots. This came to the boiling point when I moved to Coppell. It was a wakeup call when I realized how much fluency I had lost in Gujarati. 

The only person I spoke Gujarati with was my grandma, my Nani who insisted on this way to help me keep fluency which I could not thank her enough for. The first time I had seen and spoken to her in months, I sat there fumbling for the correct words to express myself.

My newfound high school friends would speak in their native tongues effortlessly. They had a genuine integrated celebration and content with their cultural identities which I had no idea I lacked.

It woke me up to the reality that I don’t truly value my roots. I had been treating them like an inconvenience for the longest time. Something I’d have to explain away or ignore if I had too.

Equipped with this unpleasant realization, I set out to find myself finding my footing again. Surprisingly what truly helped me the most were Bollywood jam sessions.

I have dozens of memories of me and my friends busting silly moves and screaming lyrics to songs. Study sessions quickly turned to karaoke that ended with us curling over in laughter. 

I swear every other song I heard invoked a new, previously forgotten childhood memory. 

It inspired me to stop dwelling in the discomfort of losing my cultural connection and instead to actively seek connection. 

As my Bollywood playlist grew, I felt like I had rediscovered a side of myself I had buried for years. I started attending garbas and heritage nights with my friends and I found out how much I adored having a community to relate to and be inspired by. 

It encouraged me to communicate in Gujarat, which I have now regained fluency, even when I felt unsure of myself.

I was astonished by how easy it was for me to feel as if I found my place again. All it took was turning back to my childhood and making my connection.

 

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About the Contributors
Kavya Lokhande
Kavya Lokhande, Staff Designer

Kavya Lokhande is a junior and staff designer for The Sidekick. She's originally from New York and moved to Texas her freshman year of high school. Kavya loves all things horror, including movies like Bride of Chucky or Orphan. She also spends time with her family and has a passion for cooking. She loves experimenting in the kitchen and improving her cooking skills. When she’s not creating delicious treats or indulging in a horror book, Kavya dreams of traveling the world, exploring new cultures, trying diverse cuisines and sometimes changing up her hair to a new look. In her free time, Kavya enjoys thrifting, sketching and going on bike rides. Kavya is always seeking new thrills, experiences, and embracing her passions! To contact her, email her at [email protected].

Noor Fatima
Noor Fatima, Staff Designer

As an excited, wide-eyed Noor walked into D115 for the first time on the first day of her sophomore year, she tilted her head in confusion and thought to herself, “I thought this was an art class, why are there newspaper awards lining the walls?” Despite stumbling into the program by accident, Coppell High School senior and Sidekick graphic designer Noor Fatima found her place in the newspaper.  

Expanding beyond her expectation of designing graphics, Noor has tried a variety of mediums in the program. She enjoys writing stories and drawing graphics.  She grew up in Canada and moved to Texas five years ago, where she joined The Sidekick in her sophomore year of high school.

 She is the secretary of The Coppell Young Writers Association, and has a deep passion for writing. She appreciates the convergence of writing and multimedia that The Sidekick has, and believes that they go together. “People often separate writing, photos, and graphic design, but I think they are amplified and speak for each other when put together,” Noor says. 

Her favorite genre of music is J-pop, and enjoys listening to artists such as  Yoasobi and Kanaria. Noor is fond of rainy weather, and she loves to spend rainy days reading a good book with a warm cup of coffee. She enjoys reading a mix of manga and the occasional novel, and doodling characters from series she likes in her sketchbook. She wishes to pursue writing, and publish a graphic novel in the future. You can contact her at [email protected].

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    KarnJan 26, 2024 at 10:00 pm

    This is a beautifully written and relatable – As a father of a preteen daughter – one of my and a lot of parents key concern is how we can preserve our indianness while adjusting to the western world. And any anchor is good to have.

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