‘Never Have I Ever” 1×04: “.. felt super Indian”

When someone that you like, puts you in the friend zone – it sticks with you. It kinda cripples you. It becomes all that you can think about and if we’re being honest, it hurts.

Feeling feelings is not an easy thing and coming to terms with your feelings is not an easy thing. When someone tosses you in the friend zone you feel less than, a loser and have to stop and wonder why you aren’t good enough.

At least that’s been me every single time I have been friend zoned. And that’s been more than I care to admit. So I get why Devi is upset that Paxton did that to her. I mean – sure, it’s been a week. But when you are a kid (and even when you are an adult) that shit sticks with you.

And it’s definitely sticking with Devi, but something that she doesn’t have time to deal with. Because it was Ganesh Puja and Devi was being forced to go.

It’s not that she would normally mind – well she would. Cause kids are like that. And this year, she was not allowed to wear her jeans and a tee. This year she was “of age” and needed to dress in traditional clothing. This meant a sari and Devi wasn’t thrilled about it.

You could see that when Kamala came in to help her get ready. She looked miserable. But even if Devi couldn’t see it – she was beautiful.

ON THE WAY TO GANESH PUJA

Kamala, Nalini, and Devi are on their way to Ganesh Puja when they stop for coffee. Devi is waiting in line, distracting herself as most of us do – with social media. This is when a little girl tugs on her sari and asks if she is Princess Jasmine.

Devi tells her no, and is flattered, telling the girl that she is thankful for the compliment, but the little girl tells her that Ariel is prettier than Jasmine. Then she asks her where Aladdin is.

Talk about salt in a wound. Devi is trying to recover from being friend zoned and this little girl is reminding her of why she is alone. But Devi responds that Aladdin is a friend – which hey – not cool. Don’t ruin fairytales for kids.

The girls Mom asks for a picture, so that the girl can put on Instagram. Devi explains that she doesn’t want to, not everything needs to be commemorated on social media, and that she doesn’t feel comfortable. The father tells her that she’d spent her whole time in line on social media.

I do have to agree with Devi. Not every moment needs to be commemorated on social media. There are things that you can just keep to yourself. You can just keep memories to yourself. The world doesn’t need to know everything.

But Devi gives in and it left me wondering – how stupid are people. Not Devi – but the family pushing her to take a picture with their kid.

I just found that shit wrong.

GANESH PUJA

Nalini (Devi’s Mom) is one of my favorite characters on this show. She’s hilarious, blunt, and strong as fuck. But she’s also very nervous right now, because this is her first celebration since her husband died.

Someone had asked Nalini if the family was going to Ganesh Puja or if they had too much going on. It pissed her off, because she doesn’t need the world talking about her family. She knew that she was going to be judged, that people were going to talk about her family, and that she was over it. She was determined to show the world just how strong she was.

And she wasn’t about to put up with any of it.

Nalini has a plan though – a purpose for being there. A guy named Ron was a great college counselor and was great at getting people into Ivy league colleges. She wants Devi to get into Princeton and so the goal – for Devi to charm him and get him to take her on as a client.

Devi says that she is on it. Charming old teacher types is her super power.

Arriving at Ganesh Puja, Devi isn’t thrilled. It’s at her school and it’s the last place that she wants it to be. But arriving there, she’s on a mission. Everyone is.

Except the first thing that the run into are the Aunties. Aunties are older Indian women of no blood relation but still have opinions about your life. So you know, busy bodies that should just mind their own, but think that their opinion is helping you to be a better person.

The aunties tell Devi they are happy she is no longer a cripple and that they prayed for her everyday. Nalini is being a good person – though she looks as though she wants to strangle them all – is thanking them. But the Aunties keep going on about all the bad things that have happened to this family. The women are demeaning.

And so Nalini does what anyone would do – she distracts them with the shiny, pretty thing. That being Kamala. It’s a source of pride that Kamala is set up in an arranged marriage and about to be engaged.

That’s right – give the Aunties something to distract themselves with. This gives Devi the chance to duck out and go and find Ron.

I know that Devi isn’t the only teenage that hasn’t seen the amazing things about her heritage. We’ve all been there. We’re annoyed by the way that things get in the middle of our lives, but as we grow older we grow to appreciate our heritage.

And sometimes it takes someone who we used to make fun of life with to open our eyes to things that we should appreciate. Devi runs into an old friend who is now at Stanford. They used to make fun of everything together.

But now, he’s excited to be back at Ganesh Puja. He missed it and was happy to be there. At college it’s different. He’s learned that he’s proud to be Indian.

READING RON THE RIOT ACT

Everyone heads to the gym for prayers. Nalini wants to know if Devi has found Ron. She hasn’t and her Mom wants to know how hard it is to find the only white guy at an Indian event.

The family goes up for prayers and to be blessed. Devi should be wishing for her normal things – good grades, getting into school, Paxton… but those things aren’t there. Devi’s always had trouble concentrating on prayer. But this year, all she can see is her Dad.

She’s distracted a little, sure. But all she can truly think of his her Dad. She misses him- even if she won’t admit it. She may not want to talk about it, but loosing him destroyed her.

Devi finds Ron. He’s hiding in a classroom. Like any kid, Devi is selling herself on her accomplishments – good grades, charity work, and extra curricular activities. Ron tells her that colleges don’t want another Indian try hard, they want a kid who has an unusual story.

And then he hits where it is fucking hard. He knows who she is and talks about her father dying right in front of her. Ron reduced her story to one sentence and that killed her.

He said that he Dads death would get her into school. Devi yelled at him and in all honesty, I mean – I would punched him in the fucking throat. Like watch yourself. That’s life – someones life that you are fucking with.

Devi tells him where to go and how fast to get there.

TO FOLLOW OR NOT TO FOLLOW TRADITION

You remember being young and feeling like you had to do what your parents said, but not really being sure how to do that. Because I think that finding your own way and your own path is hard.

At Ganesh Puja, it is time for lunch.

There is an open table but Nalini won’t let them sit there because the woman that is sitting there has brought shame to her family. The woman did not follow through on her arranged marriage. This affects Kamala, because she doesn’t want to be that person.

But she also doesn’t want to get married.

As the find the seat, Devi comes to table and Mom reads her the riot act cause 1/2 a dozen aunties told her that Devi yelled at Ron. Mom tells her she’s disappointed her.

Devi just wants to not have to deal with people talking about her father all the time. She’s not ready to face it.

Kamala is throwing away food, when she realizes she doesn’t have her phone. The woman that was outcasted brought it to her. Kamala tries to be nice and they go to the vending machines, to talk. Kamala asks her if she would have done anything different.

The woman says that she wishes that she would have done her arranged marriage. She doesn’t know what to tell her kids, she’s divorced, and she misses her family.

Devi, meanwhile is pissed that her Mom said that she was disappointed. She’s in the hallway kicking a locker and Paxton asks why she’s there. Of course he would show up.

She tries to tell Paxton all about it and he seems somewhat interested but somewhat not. But you can’t help but laugh when he asks her if kicking the locker is part of it. She says no, she has an anger problem.

Some people think she’s too Indian. Some not enough. Paxton tells her who cares what ppl think – she should do her. And that’s honestly a great thing to say, but also makes her start thinking.

Especially when he tells her that she looks good in that outfit.

I love this family. They are rooting for each other. They want to be there for each other. They just have to find their way through this grief.

And I believe they will.

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