Recently at a bar in Mumbai, I had a strange encounter with these white guys from Europe traveling across India for a month. Well, it was strange cause, I was surprised what they though of India and us Indians to be, and it made me realise how every white person who comes to visits India or even interacts with us, has a few preconceived thoughts and stereotypes about India. This wasn’t my first experience, while living in the UK I’ve had people ask me questions like “are you allowed to date?”, “why don’t you have an Indian accent?” and the list could go on. I had to keep explaining that India is not what they see in movies or they hear about. It’s really big and diverse, and they’d be so surprised with what I would tell them. Not everything you’d hear about is false, but there is a lot of stuff that’s exaggerated and has just created a bizarre image about India, which is why explaining myself about India, that it’s not what you may think it is.
Indian isn’t a language:
So a lot of foreigners, assume Indian to be a language, and it isn’t that’s our nationality. I was communicating with a taxi driver in Hindi (our national language) and I was asked by one a foreigner, if I was talking to them in “Indian” well they meant Hindi which obviously I corrected. So, a fun fact here, Hindi is our national language, besides this there are 28 official languages spoken across India and over 200 dialects. Yes, this would be probably one of the most diverse nation in the world.
Curry isn’t the only Indian food and not every Indian eats spicy:
India has mastered the art of making curries, but there are debates and conflicts about curry being originated from England (does England like taking credit for everything we do?) non the less, if you’re visiting India, curry isn’t the only thing you should be trying, there is a variety of dishes such as South Indian food like idlis, dosas or chaats like bhel, aloo vada and there’s lot more you could find here. Now getting to our spice tolerance level, for the record not everyone in India can eat spicy, example myself, I have tears streaming down my face if my food has too much chilli. So next time you’re hanging with an Indian, don’t assume they’re spice superman, you’d be surprised to see that you could probably eat spicier food than your Indian mate.
Dating is a taboo:
So, I encountered this experience twice once in London and in Mumbai when I met these blokes from Amsterdam, who tried flirting, but I wasn’t responsive and the next thing they said to me was, “Oh you’re not allowed to date right, you’ll have an arrange marriage.” To he honest, this really pissed me off, cause you know nothing about my life to comment and coming back to our culture, arrange marriages do exist, but as time has passed by, everyone’s allowed to date find who they like and this doesn’t mean if someone’s flirting, I need to give them what they’re looking for. Times have changed, and arrange marriages exist in the rural areas of India and those marriages seem to be lasting a lifetime so I don’t see what’s wrong in that. Guys, honestly watch out before passing comments like this, it is quite personal and offensive.
Every woman would be in a Sari:
When I was a part of an exchange program in college, while talking to these students they told me they didn’t carry their normal clothes as it would be “too revealing” for India and most girls and women would be dressed in saris is what they heard. This has been one of the most false statements I’ve heard, like my mum doesn’t even know how to drape a Sari forget wearing it everyday. Saris are beautiful and elegant, they are worn on special occasions like weddings and festivals, not on everyday basis. In big cities like Mumbai and Delhi girls would be dressed in normal jeans and tops, or even dresses for night outs. And working women wearing indo-western clothes to work which would be wearing a scarf along with your jeans, or a longer top known as “kurta”. We live a pretty updated fashion world, so please get this mindset off and Saris are beautiful.
The Indian Accent:
So every white person thinks the Indian accents in very think and loud, how they mimic us in all the American tv shows saying “what are you doing?” I’m sure you’re imaging the accent while reading this. Now, open up your mind, not every Indian has that accent, we are very well spoken and let me repeat myself about the diversity in languages in India. Literally accents in English change from city to city, people in UK were pretty surprised by my accent as it wasn’t the thick accept you’d have imagined and wouldn’t guess that I was Indian. I’ve been fortunate enough to get the best education which allows me to speak well, but seriously that accent you’d very rarely find across India, maybe if you go down to south India (which is also the most literate part of the country).
These are a few stereotypes I’ve come across, and what people thought about India and sometimes I found it really frustrating about having to explain my about things like this, and such stereotypes did exist but but everything has evolved over time, and sometimes a lot of things could be offensive if you have failed to be opened minded about a country and its culture. So, if you’re visiting India with an open mind I can assure having a life changing experiencing the culture here, seeing two sides to India and be mind boggled with diversity in one country its self.