Wednesday, March 02, 2011

On being Indian.

'You guys don't drink', said a colleague accusingly one day. He was thinking of ways in which he could thank me for an extra bit of work I had done for him.

By you guys, he meant Indians as a whole. Rather bizarre because I am the only Indian I know in London who does not drink. And trust me I know a lot of Indians.

Anyways, so that was what he said. Just one example of how nationality sometimes explains a million things for a lot of people.

I have realised that there are some assumptions that the western world has made about us Indians. Some are good some while others are certainly not so good. Let me list a few of them:

* We get the scores- When I was interviewing for LBS, one thing was quite clear my 740 GMAT score was not really as great as it would have been for a non Indian. Indians are expected to score above 700! Be damned if you are Indian with a score less than 700!

*We know all about Excel and Powerpoint- So any gora in office has an excel issue, he turns around and shouts for an Indian, the issue gets solved in a jiffy. (Example of Excel complications: The text is exceeding the size of the cell, what do I do? Ans: Thwack your head with a news paper *Aloud* -Use Wrap text *angelic smile*)

*We are Tiny- And being as vertically challenged as I am does not help the cause of people of my nation. What I have started doing is wearing really high heels. All for the love of my country. That has led to back pain. But I can do that much atleast for people of my mother land.

*We do not reply to emails- And that I have to agree to, inspite of all the love for the motherland sloshing inside me. In the one year I have worked in an international organization, I have not come across any non Indian who has not replied to emails. People in India, believe in face to face conversation. Replying to emails does not figure high on their ways to communicate list.

*Saturday and Sunday are working in India- Yes. I am not kidding. This IS what we have done to ourselves. People get so many replies on Saturdays and Sundays ( which of course, the Whites here check only on Mondays) that they think Sat and Sunday are working days in India. Can you bloody beat that? I mean like comon?

*We do not like being handed stuff by the giver's left hand: So apparently there is this book on '120 ways of not offending Indians'. It is, rather disturbingly selling quite a few copies. This piece of exquisite literature spells what a Westerner should do or not do in India if he does not want to offend Indians. One of the things is NEVER to use your left hand while giving an Indian something. Apparently we find it very offending. My colleague came up to me one day and (out of the blue)apologized for having given me things with her left hand in the past. She is after all a leftie and could not do much about it but she will def try not to repeat this in future, she said looking incosolate. I was stunned into silence when she told me why she was apologising for something I had not even noticed!

The book also, FYI says that when you are in a meeting with a couple of Indians, do not speak if one of the Indians is senior to you. Apparently, during the meetings a strict protocol is followed regarding who will speak when. The senior most person sepaks first, then the second in the heirarchy and then the third etc etc. My colleague was concerned. I was VERY concerned.

*Indians cant make it to a meeting on time- Okay. I cannot make it to a meeting on time :(

Let me know if you know more of these! Will be fun!

As for the colleague who complained that Indians do not drink, I told him that while we might not drink, we do eat chocolates ;)



Anonymous said...

Very interesting facts there :)
I guess everyone loves chocolates ;)

Prathima said...

Very nice post:)

I get to answer few of these questions myself in our office. One more common question is why don't I still have kids when Indians are supposed to marry "very" early and have tons of kids:)

Anonymous said...

I think we have got to work on being on time. We are kind of lazy and this chalta hai attitude has seeped in in us.

Neha said...

Add few more:
1) the only game we know is cricket :|. Its the most popular, no doubt, but not the only game we know/play.
2) Our parents find a husband/wife for us. (goras seem very surprised at this, and I once told a gora groupmate that it is very similar to how friends set up a date between 2 of their friends!)
3) indian food is spicy. I hate this generalisation, because its so not true!. what to do if the amrikans here know only salt and pepper as spices :|

Pepper said...

Some of these are true. Some I wasn't even aware of. When I was working in UK, my manager was surprised that I spoke fluent English and asked me if I learnt it after coming to England. I didn't know what to say..

Shubhika Taneja said...

Some nice observations. Working at an international organization myself, another one that i have come across often is- Indians & arranged marriages. If any Indian of a marriageable age goes to India for a holiday, its assumed he return single. Quite amusing!

Calvin said...

Some of these are actually true, and there are in fact quite a few Indians who do not drink (at least in the casual manner in which others do).

And of course we are late for the meetings or any event for that matter.

One image which I would to see change is the being hardworking and available on weekends. I see a lot of guys who have worked really hard to get to a job overseas, and they try to work extra-hard by being office on saturdays and sundays. While there is nothing wrong with this, I would really want to see people working as equals, and not over-stretching themselves trying to impress others.

Ruchira said...

I’ve spent a few years in Japan – And here is what the Japanese think about us ! (not all good I’m afraid)
1)If your project is being handled by an Indian company, tell them a deadline a week before the actual deadline because Indians never meet a deadline.
2)Indians fleece you when you go there as a tourist (true I guess!)
3)Indians spend a lot of time praying in the morning that’s is why they come to work late !! (I swear a Japanese manager told me this!)
4)Indians= Software whiz
5)All Indian food is a “curry” as in, vegetables in gravy or lentils in gravy. To make matters worse almost all Indian restaurants in Tokyo serve even dry vegetables swimming in curry!

Sudha said...

The japanese way of thinkin is really funny!!!
One of the gora views tat u have put up is very rite..We have strict hierarchy here atleast in organisations..It is in the blood...

Shivanand PB said...

Interesting !

"Indians spend a lot of time praying in the morning that’s is why they come to work late !!" lol :D

vandana said...

I do not have annthing add to the list but was quite surprized by few of them specially the 'talking in hierarchy" ..where did that come from !!

Bikramjit said...

hmm well you tell that collegue to have a sitting with me .. for the drinking session .. it will be more of CHAKO CHAKO CHAKO CHAKO :) he he hee

And indian crazy on cricket.. and not interested in national Game ..

Indians so jealous if the other is doing good :)

Indians never wanting to help a Fellow indian.. but wud love to lick after a GORA .. ohhh yes a FACT :0

I did not know about the LEft hand :)

and Indian chicken tikka is suppsoed to be RED in colour :)

and the best that i got when i reached "Your english is good, " You speak english ..
duhhhhhhhh yesss I am educated :)

and Indians dont eat Beef ... I can eat a horse when hungry he heh ehe


Preeti said...

Haha! :D
Good one! :)
The mails bit is very true! The goras in my office have a HUGE problem with that! Understandably so, I guess..

Anonymous said...

Well my American colleagues work on weekends too, heck some of them worked on Christmas as well :),

all my firang colleagues say sorry for hurting my sentiments if ever they mention about beef being their fav food

Destination Infinity said...

Indians don't only come to meetings on time, they don't like to come to office on time as well :) I still remember those days in bangalore where i used to go at ten thirty in the morning, and my boss comes at eleven!! But hey, indians work till pretty late as well....

Destination Infinity

Blasphemous Aesthete said...

Even I am a left handed, but I think it is the zeal with which a person passes on that object or anything as such, even shaking hands.

And punctuality, though I try(I amke it on time sometimes) to live by it, people here live by IST which they say is Indian Extend-able Time. :)

Plus, I don't drink, what would they say if I said, I don't even have non-veg food, not even eggs?
Nice post.

Blasphemous Aesthete

Kanupriya said...

You mean there is really a book for 120 ways of not offending Indian!!! Wow this is damn interesting...and i agree for lot many things including alcohol bit. have myself faced it at many a times. I have no probs in enjoying with those having it but the moment i say i wont take it, there is a big question mark and then some judgmental remarks! I mean I dont have any problem with your drinking then why do you have problem with my not drinking! And this I'm not speaking of only foreigners, I have faced it in Indian circle too :). Nice post!

Dee said...

Raam pyari, I wish I cute say I was TINY!

We also end up calling ever elder femael "aunty" and every elder male "uncle"! Whether they like it or not they are family!!! :)

Anonymous said...

I loved those "pre-conceptions" people have about Indians. It kinda eminds me of the etiquette training that our Company's corporate communication department gives whenever one of us is travelling abroad.

nightflier said...

we don't hug random strangers..ok at least I dont..
I have been teased a lot about this by my European friends in school..Not that I changed..but I hug people if only I am meeting them after a long time or if its bf situation..on a daily basis..does't suit me :D

caterpillar said...

The whole talking by hierarchy kind of surprised me...I am an Indian but never noticed that.... And these days, we have so many lefties on this side of the world that nobody could care which hand you used to hand over things with.....but then yeah, a few things are true replying to emails and being on time....

Sundari said...

"Sat n sun are working days in India", yes so very true only we are always available after work hours and weekends as well ;)

Nice post.

Anonymous said...

nice piece of work!

Tanishka said...

You have done some serious research out there it seems :D
About the tiny bit I should say I'm tiny but that can not be generalized...
Goras can be really dumb n so they go looking for us whenever stuck :D :D

Vidya said...

ha ha! a super list! hierarchy thing, i think the Japs take the cake.. about keeping appointments/meeting time- agree. no one asked you if Indians still use Elephants as mode of transport?!!

Vaish said...

Girl, this is too good...
I do want to grab a copy of that book, and see remaining points mentioned ;)
Lol at Excel question!! They ask the most simples (should I say silliest) question,and appreciate us as computer geek!!

Linhy said...

Interesting blog and thoughts you got going on there!! Check out my blog sometimes when you get a chance. If you like my writing and what’s on there become my follower!
haha I like what you said at the end we might not drink, we do eat chocolates that's cute

A said...

First time here. Preconceived notions ...cannot change. Well written.

(BTW:- Indians drink a lot, you just have to know the right ones)

dipali said...

I love your last line:)

Anonymous said...

okies, I have been reading you since quite some time, but there never use to be these many comments on each of the posts... how is this deluge suddenly? advertising your blog :P... just wondering how all of sudden? well, above all you deserve it, all the best for you book