I miss eating Vindaloo with Dad.

Wilhelmine Taylor,
Australia.

My father’s family was originally from India, but his mother was Scottish/Danish. People tended to assume he was a white guy with a deep tan, so when he and I went out for curry, the restaurant employees were surprised when he ordered vindaloo. One of my happiest memories of him was the time when, after Dad’s vindaloo had been brought out, all the restaurant staff came out and stood in the kitchen doorway and watched him eat as though he was defusing a bomb in front of them.

In many ways, my father’s family history is a generations-long tragedy. When Dad’s great-grandfather moved to Australia from India, he did so as the brown adopted son of an otherwise white, English family. His adoptive father appears to be the only member of the family who wanted him. Dad’s great-grandfather tried his hardest to fit in, and doing that meant leaving his culture behind and trying to become an English gentleman. Every generation after him was taught to blend in- to dress white, and act white, and to marry the whitest person they could find.

Dad married my blonde mother, but he also ate vindaloo, and he was the first member of his family in a hundred years to reconnect with Indian culture. He was proud of who he was and where his family was from, though for most of his life it wasn’t safe to talk about that in public. The racist undercurrent in Australia has a terrible impact, and even now the emphasis is still on assimilation and toning down cultural differences, when it should be on celebrating diversity in all its myriad forms.

But because Dad was the only member of his family to reconnect with his heritage, I can’t talk about that with his family. They’re all pretending to be white. So I’m here, telling a stranger that I miss my late father, who loved vindaloo.


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