Amandeep Singh

INDIA


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When did your family immigrate to the US and where exactly did they move? What made them come?

They moved in the early 80s to New York. A bunch of my dad's siblings lived there together and so my parents joined them in an apartment in Queens. I hesitate to embellish or use qualifying adjectives as cramped or decrepit. I wasn't there. But that's how they describe it. It also sounded really fun.

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What is the first language you learned? Do you speak any other languages?

Punjabi was the first. I sorta speak it now with enough exposure.

What language do you primarily speak when with your family?

They speak in Punjabi - I respond in English.

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Have you ever visited or been back to your family's native country? If so, how often do you visit and for how long? What is that experience like? Do you have relatives there?

Every couple years. Half of my family is still there. India is an incredible place and a profound experience. It's like this braid of beauty and awfulness which infuriates me but i also love it.

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Describe your experience growing up in America as someone who is so closely tied to another culture. How did you feel? What things were easy? What did you find difficult?

I’m not so much tied to my culture as I am shackled to it. Everything gets easier as I age, but it sucked growing up where I did being who I was looking the way I looked. It could’ve been worse but it also could’ve been better. And that’s how people get to think in America. Our circumstance is a bag of socio-economic, regional, metaphysical factors that we’re forced to carry the minute we’re born, then we spend the rest of our lives going through that bag and deciding what to keep and what to throw out. I’m an Indian Sikh American who grew up in a majority white conservative suburb in Southern California. We can play a game where we swap out proper nouns and change my circumstances for better or worse. Change Southern California to Alabama and I’m a very different person. Change Sikh to Hindu and my life would’ve been vastly different growing up where I did. I got dealt some cards, but whateeever. I never asked to play a card game. I’m on this earth to chill and make weird sounds and pictures

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What type of food do you eat at home? What are some of your favorite dishes?

I really like Indian food. It’s all so good and has the capacity to be health af.

Describe your experience making friends as a kid growing up in the UNITED STATES.

I liked white kids. They have it so good and they’re so confident. They can focus on art and music more naturally because they don’t have this fatalistic pressure that comes from not belonging. Plus they talk about their feelings way easier because they were given that vocabulary by their parents. (I'm generalizing but you get it) But I always had unquestionable connections to other kids of color. And it's something I've found a much better balance with at this age.

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Do you consider yourself as more of an American or that of your parents' native country?

ugh. i hate this question

Are you proud to be American? 

Not a huge pride guy.

Do you plan to pass along aspects of your parents native culture to your children (if you choose to have them)? What parts of the culture do you want to keep if any? If yes, how important is that to you, and how do you plan on doing so?

The stuff that matters to me. The music, the art, the aesthetics, and whatever they’re interested in. Statistically, second generation kids have a lot of cultural pride - I’m all for it.

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Are there aspects of your culture that you don't enjoy, parts that you know you don't want to pass on?

The ignorance towards mental health, the obtuseness, the misogyny and misandry, the stinkiness, the classism, the hypocrisy, the anti-islamic sentiments, racism in general, the corruption, the warped definitions of happiness, the consumerism, the shameless displays of wealth, and the desserts (it's way too sweet, no flavor profile)

What's one thing you wish people knew about your culture? 

Whatever man. People know what they know. If someone has a question, I’ll gladly answer it.

Are there any specific thoughts / inspiration behind the way you took your photos and what you took photos of? Feel free to use this space to express your photographic inspiration for this project. 

Not really. I took pictures whenever I would see my family. Which is like every couple weeks. There are some pics of my dad playing the drums. He talked about learning the drums but he’ll never do it because learning how to do something because you enjoy it is not a graspable concept by most indians. There’s a bunch of pictures of my niece Jaya. She’s amazing. She had a complicated birth (shouts to her mom) but she made it and she’s really funny and smart and weird and I know she’s going to be a really special person.