The Three Continents of My Life
Continents of My lLife
My Life Changed in Three Cultures
Life changed but nobody understood the views of my culture, and of my past life. After the many sacrifices made to live in a foreign country, I realized it is most difficult to live in a foreign culture.
I faced up to many challenges.
I had to figure out my strengths and weaknesses and grew into a stronger person at heart.
An Indian born and raised in South Africa, my ancestors arrived in South Africa over one hundred and fifty years ago.
I was born in the third generation of South African Indian society.
Currently living in the most southeastern part of Croatia, to me this is a life of three cultures and three continents.
Indians were treated as slaves in South Africa, and settled in and around Durban. As slaves they worked in the sugar-cane fields, and were categorized by the color of their skin.
Growing up during the apartheid system was one of my toughest experiences, not knowing much of how racism affected me.
I was naive, everything about my life at that time seemed normal. In reality it was not a normal life for most South Africans.
Classed as an ''Asian or ''Indian'' and other races were only allowed to live in their specific suburbs.
Growing up in South Africa was challenging for me. I attended the ''Indian only schools'' and living in the ''Indian only suburbs'' made my life different from others.
Public toilets were also categorized as ''Indians only''. All public places and the simplicity of my life was the only way during the seventies and eighties.
Indians practiced their culture in Hinduism and are some of Tamil speaking; I grew into the South African culture and found my culture in it too.
Life wasn't easy but the Indian people had to build up their lives positively.
The two different cultures in my life while in South Africa was not only meaningful but also a big part of my soul.
Apartheid in South Africa was not a great time for many people, not being able to move around without identification cards and Indians were suppressed for a long time.
Opportunities were dull for slaves, in the eyes of others slaves didn't need to go further to have a better future.
Racism didn't affect me as much but my parents had tasted the real life of racism.
At that time my dad worked in a ''Whites Only Pub'' he had to deal with many Afrikaans speaking people, and took the insults lightly.
The name calling was ''coolie'' for the Indians. Life for me was fine during the school and college years. I didn't pay much attention to what was going on.
An incident that got me thinking but still not much at that time, things for my dad was rough at work he was often called a ''coolie'' and one day he came home with a bruised eye, an almost severe eye injury and I remember that day like it was yesterday.
A ''White guy'' after a few drinks at the pub got out of control and hit my dad with a beer bottle it grazed his eye leaving him with a Black eye(or blue eye).
My dad had some ''White friends,'' but those with harsh comments and who behaved disrespectfully were not his friends.
It was not an open book to have other people of other race to your home it didn't work out during the apartheid system.
It was forbidden and would be breaking the laws if an Indian had ''White Man'' over to his home.
The South African culture has many nations and is supposed to be the rainbow nation unfortunately the color white is not present in the rainbow colors.
Barbecues are the main pass time in South Africa. In the South African culture a barbecue is called ''Braai.’’
Indians in South Africa have passed through many tough times and never gave up on making their future at best and so far have succeeded.
South Africa was the last African country to breakthrough with the apartheid era. I saw the the actual differences when much older.
In my early years racism didn't affect me. Not fully understanding the whole situation made me blind to the color problem. Now that I am much older,
I realize how Indians were affected by such problems.
Since 1990 I noticed changes and had begun to understand the racist insults, and felt left out in many events.
Applications for jobs were turned down due to the color of my skin that made me feel more than just sad or disappointed.
Frustration built up within me but no actions were taken. I didn't take these harsh words personally.
The introduction of the third culture in Croatia took me by surprise.
The tradition is different from the previous two and from the African continent to the European continent with all three cultures.
To have all three continents my life has made me among the strongest and less fearful being.
The religion of Roman Catholics and so traditional, I had such difficulty from day one to live a different life.
The traditional women live their old-fashioned lives and I, the modern woman who tried to fit into this culture.
I one day realized it can work out for me but only if I made my own life, the one I know best of.
Changing a Westernized life to a not so advanced lifestyle is like oil and water in this new life. I had passed many obstacles and chose to live my life with what I know would help me most to be happy.
The first traditional event I had learned most of is Easter in Croatia a different and one of the most religious holidays in the region, apart from Christmas.
The celebrations are extraordinary with the special way of decorating eggs. A family day spent with exciting events.
It was hard for a modern and a South African Indian woman to be accepted in another culture where the people don't have anything in common.
Irrespective of age not having much in common had a hold on me for normal conversations.
I opened my life to Three continents, and Three Cultures, of which two I have grew up with from my descendants, and the third from my marriage side of life. An incredible life from morning to night and from day to day.
Many challenges, and still I am learning more and more of the foreign language, and of my culture and of the Croatian culture.
I have coped with far too much and will keep going no matter what, life now is much easier and learning about another culture is always interesting.
Learning never stops!
It strengthens the brain and keeps me fit.
In the process of learning something new daily I saw a difference in me and communication is key to a better social life.
Life changed for me in many ways and each day that went by I had a new challenge to face up to.
Every time I faced up to a new challenge my emotions grew and I felt stronger as I moved on.
In all that time I tried to focus on my child and my new life. As time went by I realized how much freedom and my family mean to me.
The many changes from racism to living in a country which was once a communist country is a great learning experience for me.
I am now more curious of the history of Croatia a small country was once ''Old Yugoslavia'' especially, after the war with the Serbians and Croatians over twenty years ago.
All seems well on the surface but deep down not many Croatians can forgive the Serbians for the way they destroyed their precious place. The same for the Serbs. In both ways shows some friction.
© 2013 Devika Primić