India is the land of snake charmers and maharajas travelling on elephants…
Do you still believe in these thoughts posed as questions for ages, from the time of the British colonial rule?
In the current modern era where technology has grown leaps and bounds, people from all over the world are still agog with fantasies of such fantastic legends and tales associated with the land of treasures.
Are you (an Indian) tired of answering stereotypic questions posed by westerners when in a foreign land? So, what are the embarrassing questions you dread when abroad?
It may seem ridiculous to Indians but elsewhere it is a common thread of thought. Here are some of the amusing, irritating and commonplace questions people ask when you are from India.
Crazy, funny and food for thought!
1. Are you a maharaja? Do you still ride on elephants?
Kipling’s Mowgli character is so widespread and common that Indians are generally linked with kings and palaces, including anything and everything that comes along with crowned heads. One almost feels sorry to dampen the spirits of an eager-eyed asker with the practical answer that you are no royalty and that all Indians do not live in jungles. But…of course, they do live in concrete ones now! And not every groom gets to ride on that majestic animal. It is only for the select ‘rich’ few.
2. You come from a really poor country? Do you get paper to write on?
Maybe when compared with other developed nations, India may seem poor. But all here have access to a good lifestyle. Of course, as in other countries there are the poor and the homeless but also, there are plenty of middle class as well as the rich and the richest here. You cannot name one Indian home that does not have a television or a mobile phone. And unlike in Gandhi’s times there is plenty of paper to write on. So, please don’t worry.
3. Do you really have a Bollywood kind of lifestyle?
As more and more Bollywood movies are screened internationally, the questions posed to Indians range from the ridiculous to the extraordinary based on the colorful songs and dances that are in abundance. Yes, more and more weddings are planned with the filmi theme in mind and people do wear vibrant clothes but the answer is that in everyday activities, Indians are no different from the other citizens of the world.
4. You must have an arranged marriage? Shouldn’t you?
A majority of couples in India have had an arranged marriage. But that is the culture and tradition of the country. Even in a so-called marriage arranged by parents, the boy and girl do have a say in most of the cases. Love does happen in such pre-arranged cases too!
5. Ah…so you must be a techie.
Not all Indians are technologically advanced engineers who can code. Other than Doctors and Engineers there is whole lot of internationally acclaimed Indians as tennis stars, fashion designers, rocket scientists and what not. But it’s good to be branded as a geek here as it proves that you are a studious person. Remember it is more of a compliment in India!
6. Please teach me how to tie a sari.
Sari is one of the popular national dress of the country. But not every Indian knows how to tie a sari. Even now, not every young Indian woman can wear one without any help. Being an Indian does not automatically make one a sari-lover. India has its fair share of designer western clothes and most youngsters of current times are more comfortable flaunting the foreign labels.
7. Do you speak Indian?
There are numerous languages and dialects spoken in India that places it in an extraordinary league among other nations. Can you ask a US citizen, “Do you speak American?” It is prudent to ask an Indian about `Hindi’ which is a national language but not `Hindu’ as that is a religion.
8. You have a prominent Indian accent…
Russell Peters has an accent so does Raj in Big Bang Theory. These are some of famous characters of the west where their Indian accent sells. As Americans and Australians have different accents for the same English language, so do Indians have a pronounced tone of voice.
9. You smell like curry.
Indians and the delicious curry they prepare are synonymous. Especially, in Britain where one of the most widely consumed dish is a ‘Chicken Tikka Masala’. So, maybe it was meant as a flattering remark. Why is Indian food the most sought after conversation starter in the west? All Indian foods are not spicy and BTW…all Indians are not vegetarians. There are meat lovers, galore in the country.
10. I heard Yoga is good for your mind and soul. Teach me a few steps. Can you?
Yoga is a healthy holistic technique that keeps you in the best of health but not everyone knows yoga. It is like saying when in China, “Why don’t you teach me kung-fu?” There are a select few trained instructors who practice and impart the teachings of this ancient exercise form. It has to be learnt in its correct form to reap the benefits. So, if you want to learn, get in touch with certified yoga trainers, they are the best to guide you through the many nuances of this exercise form.
11. I hear you have millions of gods. How do you keep track of so many of them?
Yes, India is a land of gods and goddesses in plenty. But people of different faiths within the same religion worship their own set of gods. No one is compelled to pursue a religion that one doesn’t like. It is actually passed from parents to children for generations. India is a secure republic and remains to be so till date. There are different temples for various Gods and no Indian worships all of the millions of Gods. Psst…actually they maybe numerous deities but not in the count of millions for sure.
12. How can you bear cows roaming the Indian roads?
Indians who are Hindus worship the cow as a sacred animal. The country’s people possess a high sense of tolerance and lenience and so, it is a part and parcel of everyday life. You can spot all kinds of stray animals roaming the streets of India. None takes much notice of them. They are a part of what the nations’ `unity in diversity’ is about.
13. A dot head…
Indians love for the bindi (a dot on the forehead) is a hot topic of conversation among the westerners. So, as a statement many Indians abroad are referred to as dot heads. More for decorative use than to ward of the evil eye (as believed in ancient times), it is an integral part of a traditional look sported by millions of Indian women. It is a fad in itself and has walked the ramps of Paris too! It looks good on the forehead. Why don’t you try one?
14. Cricket is a kind of baseball game, isn’t it? Just a duller version.
Indians love their cricket. It is a religion in this land and statistically, the most highly paid sports in the country. When India plays the entire nation comes to a standstill. It is the breath for many Indians and treated as a sacred event. As baseball is to America so is cricket is to India. So, there are no comparisons here.
15. I loved the movie Slumdog Millionaire.
Maybe you were just stating the fact. But most Indians may feel that there is an underlying meaning to this sentence. Never fail to forget that India is a vast country with a multitude of religions, sects, regional boundaries, languages, cuisine, culture and tradition. A presumption, either knowingly or unknowingly made, must not be made based on a single Oscar winning movie.
16. How many Gandhis are these worth?
Are you unable to understand what the question is about? The person is referring to the Indian currency Rupee where the note has a picture of the father of our nation. As hilarious it is to ask an American how many Washingtons is your bag worth, so it is ridiculous to ask about how many Gandhis. As it is always dollars for Americans, so it is Rupees for Indians.
17. You still live with your parents back home?
This question is posed with all the incredulity that one can muster. Different countries have different takes on raising their young ones, as with various species of birds and animals. In India, it is considered appropriate to stay with one’s parents and not the other way round. Many married couples still live as a joint family with parents and siblings. It may come as a surprise for a non-Indian but it is an everyday norm of life in India.
18. What is actually a country like yours like?
It is a rapidly developing economy that has invited global attention in recent times. Indians do not live in jungles or in palaces entertained by fire-throwers or tight-rope walkers. A majority of Indians are educated and live a comfortable modern life. It is definitely a safe haven for the lonely traveler. Bright and beautiful…you will love it.
What are some of the weird questions that you were asked? Share with us!