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The Real Desi Housewives Of Silicon Valley

The Real Desi Housewives Of Silicon Valley

September 13, 2011

Tongue-in-cheek look at the life of US based NRI housewives through the medium of a popular reality show.

There's a popular reality series on US television - with multiple editions in various US cities - called "The Real Housewives of _________ " (fill in the blanks with the name of a big American city, e.g. New York, Atlanta, DC, New Jersey, etc)

These shows supposedly feature, real life (mostly wealthy) women from these respective cities, and give us a look up close and personal into their lives - well as real as reality shows can get anyway. My personal favorite of all these editions is the Real Housewives of New Jersey (RHONJ).

The reason I find it so watchable, more so than any other version, is because most of the housewives are of Italian background, and observing their lives, I get a strong sense that Italians are very similar to us desis.

Family bonds are very tight, the housewives all have family members living in close proximity to each other (with most involved in each other's business!), most of them seem to marry within the italian community, the women seem to be primarily in charge of the majority of housework and cooking, and food seems to be a focal point in their lives
. Be it parties or religious holidays, they love to cook, love to eat, and love their own cuisine. And the similarities do not end there. Many of the men come across as mamma's boys, waited on hand and foot by their mothers, the family is close and they love each other but also regularly engage in big family fights, and yet people seem to not be able to get enough of their families.

It actually got me thinking as to where in the US could we have a real housewives edition, with desi women, and then it struck me - The bay area or silicon valley as it is also known
. The northern Californian, San Francisco bay area is highly populated with desi immigrants, mostly due to the proximity to the silicon valley offering an abundance of IT jobs.

Now, what would that edition of the Housewives show look like, one wonders. For one thing, the homes won't be nearly as lavish and grand as those of their non-Indian counterparts. Even though they may be able afford them, desis would choose a humbler abode so the remainder of the wealth could then be diverted towards other higher yield investments.

Secondly, the designer labels that most of the other housewives sport, will definitely be a no-no on the silicon valley edition, because no self respecting desi woman will ever be found dead with a $ 3000, handbag - no way. They would always find a much better home for the money, such as investing it for their children's future, in gold jewellery, or in an offshore account with a high interest rate.

The part where family members live close by, enough to come over nearly everyday, may lead to similar scenes of family fighting as witnessed in RHONJ, However, don’t expect there to be any table flipping, because wasting food like that would be disrespectful to the food god (anna-devta). Such a ghor apmaan (grave insult) to the food god is strictly prohibited in Indian culture.

Those without family living locally could have their parents and in-laws visiting from India for months at a time, creating plenty of MIL-DIL type clashes with ample drama, desi style!

As with RHONJ there would be just as much cooking, just as much of fussing over food, and just as much (or more) competition over who makes the best food. Though instead of formal luncheons or elaborate dinners, there would be potlucks of desi food, with a larger variety and quantity of food.

There won't be just one holiday season in November / December - there would be some festivity or other all year round. Desi versions of American parties could be the order of the day, like goad-bharai instead of a baby shower, and nam-karan ceremony instead of a christening. The gold and sari displayed at these functions would be enough to put Mr. T to shame.

Instead of wasting time on playdates, there could be study groups, where all the desi kids gather weekly to learn one or more Indian language, or vedic maths to improve their math scores in tests.

The fact that most of the RHONJ don't work outside the home could also be a common theme, since many of women will be on H-4 dependent visas, and unable to work. The women might vent out their anger about US visa norm's and how H-4 visas ruined their careers, and bitch how they envy the women with an L2 visa status.

There would also be elaborate discussions about their Green Card status which has been in limbo for years, thanks to the long waiting list of Green Card applicants from India. Further detailed discussion will focus on labor certification, I-140, I-485, EAD, Advance parole. By the end of the show, viewers would be qualified to become an immigration attorney in the US themselves.

For the reunion show at the end of the season, one of the women could proudly announce that they’ve finally got the coveted Green Card, while the other women just snicker and sigh in disbelief.

Just writing about it is getting me all excited to watch it on television, if only it could become a reality. Are ya listening Bravo TV??


  • sharath pallava
    sharath pallava
    08.06.15 12:12 PM
  • diamond head
    diamond head
    25.09.11 09:13 AM

    While people will be people you will get all sorts on all continents.

    Housewives is a fantastic caricature of the things that are wrong with this country and your observations do titillate the imagination of how a Desi flavored version might play out.

    I wonder what buzz worthy beverage the desi women might imbibe to go off the cliff and rant about their wretched in-laws with BO or their usbund who spends too much time in the toilet or how many useless flats they have purchased in their native villages and cities.
  • Preets
    16.09.11 03:58 AM
    While I do agree with Ashley, I also believe that stereotypes, though a little exaggerated and overly generalized do hold an element of truth ;-)

    While some Indian women might, most would probably prefer a $3000 diamond to a #3000 Louis Vuitton. Of course, if you have a billion dollar home and a million dollar car, sure, please do the economy a favor and buy some more. But why does someone who needs to take the subway feel the need for one ? So I guess my thoughts I do fit the stereotype !

    Now the people you describe are indeed "real", real people who left their country and family, for hopefully something more valuable than a Louis Vuitton ;-) But as you correctly noted, the women on the reality shows are typically wealthy, and after you've earned a certain amount of wealth you tend to drop certain stereotypes from your "cultural" pool and pick new ones up from the "rich and entitled" pool.
  • Anjali
    15.09.11 10:26 PM
    Sorry that was supposed to be " I didn't think your comment was critical"
  • Anjali
    15.09.11 10:25 PM

    I did think you're comment was critical at all, maybe my response didn't convey that. I do appreciate the point of view you've presented and yes, I agree that there are those type of women as well, thankyou for giving your perspective on the matter.
    I really do appreciate the feedback.
  • Ashley
    15.09.11 06:23 PM

    Your article IS enjoyable! I'm sorry if i came across critical, it wasn't my intention. I just looked at it from my own perspective. But please keep writing, your ideas really are entertaining. :) Ashley
  • Anjali
    15.09.11 11:21 AM
    HI Ashley,

    Thankyou for your comment, and lemme say that this was just a fun article, meant in the lighter sense, ofcourse there are the women like you mention too, no doubt, and I'm sure all Italian housewives aren't like what the RHONJ shows them to be either.
    THis was just meant to be a light hearted look at the life of most of the desi housewives in US, the vast majority of them, each and every point may not apply to 100% of them , but I tried to incorporate all the range of issues that NRI housewives in the US face. It wasn't meant to be a serious take on the situation, it was all just for fun.
  • Ashley
    15.09.11 07:15 AM
    That's an interesting idea, but there are plenty of exceptions to the rule of the traditional Desi in the US. I know several indian housewives (married to very wealthy and successful physicians) who wouldn't be caught dead WITHOUT their $3000 handbags! Materialism isn't prejudice, believe me! These women are (I can think of 5 just in our circle of friends) all immigrants to the US, not born and raised here. Not "Americanized". And while they do exhibit some of the typical/traditional characteristics mentioned in the article such as fussing over food (really tasty food!) and teaching their children (who ARE born here) more Indian languages and culture, they do not shy away from "blowing" money on frivolous activities! They vacation frequently, their kids are rarely told "no" to anything and have frequent play dates with one another. None of the women I personally know are even remotely concerned with obtaining a "work visa" because they wouldn't give up their lives of luxe and work unless their lives depended on it! Not saying that as an insult to them, but they are known to make similar statements about themselves. One friend in particular talks about her life growing up in India. Her family struggled and went through very difficult times financially. There were times when she remembers going to school barefoot because she had outgrown her shoes and her parents couldn't afford to buy new shoes for a few months! She never dreamed that she would have the life she has today. She is not shy to celebrate her position. Yes, they do support her husband's parents (who still live in India), and even give to her parents, whose life circumstances have also greatly improved! So, my whole point of sharing all this is because I often hear people generalizing and stereotyping the Indian community here in the US. But in reality, even though there may be some similarities, Indians in America are as diverse as any group of people. Truly, people come here looking for a new life, and they end of gaining a new sense of self. So if there were to be an Indian version of The Real Housewives, it may end up being just a bit different than expected!
  • Anjali
    14.09.11 08:01 AM
    @ Poor in Java : I would love to see that show, I hope it does become one... :-)
  • Poor In Java
    Poor In Java
    13.09.11 07:28 PM
    Very funny :)
    I hope the TV guys are reading this and soon we shall see the new show going Viral all around the globe

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