'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 ;)