Author Archives: Arooshi Barua

Wedding Bangle

Informant Description: My mom was telling me about some differences between Bengali weddings (my culture) versus other Indian cultures.

Interviewee: Bengalis have a bunch of silly traditions, just like any other culture. There are a bunch of games they make us play in the wedding that intend to bring the couple closer, but most of the time it’s just everyone trying to embarrass us a lot.

Me: What’s one thing that’s really different you’d say?

Interviewee: I feel like it’s pretty common across the board to have little games like that throughout the wedding. One thing that’s different for us is we don’t wear a mangalsutra like most other Indian cultures. That’s that necklace you see a lot of women wear; the black beads with a gold locket?

Me: Yeah I know what it is. What do we wear then?

Interviewee: Well, obviously we have a ring. But I actually think that’s a more western tradition that we’ve adopted, because some people don’t really wear rings at all even after they get married. All Bengalis wear this bangle, and it’s got to be fancy. It has to have a bunch of different metals in it. See like mine- it’s copper, silver, and iron. The top is gold.

Me: So you have to wear that every day for the rest of your life?

Interviewee: It’s the same as wearing a ring every day for the rest of your life.

Me: Why do you think we wear a bangle instead? What’s special about the bangle?

Interviewee: I don’t know if this is true, or if this is just the explanation I made up for myself, but I like to think of the bangle as the infusion of all these different metals, paralleling the joining of two different families in a marriage. The gold lock at the top keeps them together, symbolizing the beauty and strength of marriage. I mean… that’s just what I think.

Conclusion: I always wondered why my mom never took off that bangle; I always assumed it was religious. I had no idea my culture symbolizes weddings through a bangle rather than a ring.

Drink Water

Informant Description/ Context of Performance: One time I got the hiccups, and my friend told me an unconventional way to get rid of them.

Interviewee: Just drink water but make sure you’re upside down when you’re drinking it.

Conclusion: I had never heard of this way to get rid of hiccups before. Everyone goes with a few main methods: drink water, surprise you/ scare you, have a spoonful of sugar, etc.. This way, much like the others, absolutely did not work but it was interesting to add to the collection of folk remedies for hiccups.

March Madness Mania

Informant Description: My friend grew up watching March Madness religiously. By the age of 7, he was creating his own brackets and knew every player on every team. Even now he never misses a game, and he has some pretty funny ways of making sure his team wins. (He has never won the bracket).

Interviewee: So this is pretty simple. Every time someone from the team I want to win makes a shot, I have to switch to the other side of the couch. I think it helps the “fung shui.”

Me: How did this start?

Interviewee: It started so long ago, when I was 6 maybe? It was a Duke game, can’t remember who they were playing. But basically, I had to get up to pee a lot or go get food, and every time I got up and moved around, they would score! So my mom made this joke. “Guess you have to move every time if you want them to win!” And ever since… it’s just been a thing.

Me: Have you passed this on to other people or is it just you?

Interviewee: Funny actually I have all my friends do it too. It was rough during the playoffs when there were 7 of us to one couch/. It was like playing fucking musical chairs!

Conclusion: I think there are a bunch of sports traditions and superstitions that people have, and I always wonder how it gets started. A personal example is my dad and I refuse to watch football unless my mom is upstairs in her bedroom. That started this one time when every time my mom came in the living room with the TV, my team would fumble or lose possession.

Desert Spirit

Informant Description/ Context of performance: I shared an uber with this man on the way to Santa Monica. He was telling me and our driver about a time he experienced a supernatural phenomena; a spirit had spoken to him.

Original Script:

Interviewee: So I was driving through some part of Arizona the other day. In the fucking desert man. And I remember just thinking like shit, this place is so fucking empty. I could be lost and melting away in the sun, and who the fuck would know?! Who the fuck would know. I just started fucking crying man.

Me: Were you… sober?

Interviewee: Yeah dude. Something came over me. Or like some spirit just floated into my body and just moved me, ya know?

Me: So the spirit made you cry?

Interviewee: The spirit just made me feel like I was a part of the desert. Like I didn’t matter, but I was a part of something bigger.

Me: Did that make you happy or sad?

Interviewee: I don’t know. I was definitely crying, but it wasn’t sad. The spirit just like released this fountain in me. It was like I was there to bring water to the desert. That’s what my tears were for. That’s why there’s that spirit there. It’s to bring water to the desert. Spooky right?

Me: So you really think there’s a spirit there?

Interviewee: Yeah….

Me: And if you went back, it’d be there? You’d cry again?

Interview: Oh fuck yeah dude. Too bad it was in the middle of buttfuck nowehere Arizona, so how do I find it again?

Conclusion: Honestly, I’m not sure I believe Mago was sober in the story or the retelling of it in the uber. The story was mystical and poetic in its own way, so either he’s a super creative story teller or he really believes in this spirit.

Japanese Dinner Etiquette

Informant Description/ Context of performance: My friend and I were having dinner with her mom in our living room. We were having a traditional Japanese dish called shabu shabu. We were sitting on the ground around this small table with dinner served family style when my mom’s friend looked at her lovingly annoyed.

Original Script:

Me: Is everything okay, Mrs. Mizuno?

Interviewee: Yes, yes. It’s just she knows she should not sit like that at the dinner table.

Me: Huh?

Interviewee: In Japanese culture, it is very rude to sit with your knees popping about the table. It is a form of disrespect to others you are dining with, so put your knees down!

Conclusion (written by Interviewer): Every culture I know has unique food etiquette. I had never heard this one before, so I found it particularly striking. Apparently having your knee above the table in Japanese culture is disrespectful to the people you are dining with, so maybe it shows laziness or a lack of interest by sitting like that.