Stereotypes and misconceptions about India 

Stereotypes & Misconceptions about India

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.

Street Eats Under A Pound 

It seems unreal doesn’t it? When I moved to London, and if anyone asked me what was the one thing I missed from back home, undoubtedly it was the street food, it’s literally been my appetite saviour for so many years now. If there’s some boring lunch/dinner cooked at home, just run down and have a lot of options to choose from without making a hole in my pocket. However unbelievable it may sound, street eats in Mumbai start at as cheap as 10p. And it’s full of flavours and freshness, obviously it’s not the healthiest option, but hey, it’s better than have your dominos pizza.
If you’re visiting Mumbai, something that you cannot miss out on is the street food, to be warned you’ve got to have a good immune system and a spice tolerance to handle these local Mumbai delicacies.

1. Vada Pav

My all time favourite, Vada Pav is a potato patty with a hint of coriander, garlic and a lot of spices and masala put in a bun with the best garlic chutney (Indian sauces) and green chillies, even known as the “Indian Burger”. It cost as little as 10p for a vada Pav in Mumbai and you’ll find a Vada Pav-wala in every nook and corner of the city. But the best ones I’ve come across by far are the ones in worli and flora fountain, people being queued up and waiting to get that piping hot Vada Pav.


2. Bhel

Bhel is made out puffed rice, finely chopped onions, tomatoes and boiled potatoes, and the binding substance, the three chutneys– tamarind chutney, mint chutney and garlic. You can alter your bhel according to your palette. Weather you’d like it spicy or sweet or something in between. Bhel is a perfect evening snack to have something light but not too filling. And again, Bhel costs about 20p only and my staple places I have bhel is Hari Om Bhel in Fort.

3. Road-side Sandwich

This is nothing like the cold Tesco sandwich you’d have here. These sandwiches are freshly made infront of you, fresh veggies and cheese put in generous portions, grilled and given to you with a tangy ketchup. And wondering how much this would cost, it would be around 25p but the prices vary depending on your sandwich fillings. This is a must have accordingly to me. One of the best sandwich-wala is at Nariman Point.

4. Dosa

Dosa is an Indian pancake made out of rice flour and you can literally have upto 100 kind of different fillings in it. Dosa is one of the healthier options. It’s known as a South Indian delicacy but everyone in Mumbai love it! Dosa is normally served with a coconut chutney and sambhar (a tomato gravy). The best places to have dosa in Mumbai would be Babulnath Dosa and Ramarshray Dosa in Mantuga where people are waiting in lines from 5 in the morning. Dosa start from 40p and vary according to the fillings. This is a perfect filling lunch meal.

5. Bhutta

Bhutta is a corn cob roasted on charcoal, there is nothing fancy about it. It’s fresh corn being cooked and then topping it up with butter, lemon and some spice. This is everyone monsoon favourite food. Having Bhutta in the chilly monsoon is one of the things everyone in Mumbai does. Right opposite the Taj Mahal Hotel at Gateway you’d find these friendly Bhutta-wala enjoying the rains, roasting golden corn cobs and serving it to you in your cars. These roasted corn cobs cost only 15p and are normally big in sizes.

I think, besides the food being so cheap. It’s fresh and made right infront of you, these guys who are making this food get the joy of feeding people and love being appreciated for what they make. They might not make big profits but yet serve the best food in generous portions which everyone can afford. Now, these streets are a must have when you visit Mumbai.