“People are much deeper than stereotypes. That’s the first place our minds go. Then you get to know them and you hear their stories, and you say, ‘I’d have never guessed.’ ” – Carson Kressley
Firstly, thank you to all the readers and sharing your views, experiences and opinions on the part 1 of this blog post 🙂
Now, there are lot more stereotypes that are yet to be covered but I think I will choose the most commonly used/hear of and try to understand it from a different perspective.
1. “Indians are cheap” – This is something I have been told, not to me directly but during a conversation that I was a part of. And after asking the reason for such a thought I learned that this generalization was made based on one Indian friend who on some occasion behaved really cheap (details were not told).
Reality: Coming from a simple family and having been with all kinds of kids from various family status’s, I feel that it’s not about being cheap. I have seen people who don’t like spending at all to spending for no good reason. But overall, from what I have learned growing up is thinking twice before spending. Investing if it is worth and most of the lavish things that can be bought (to pamper oneself) is taught to be bought once we are earning ourselves. So, when you see someone from India thinking twice about spending on a particular thing, then you shouldn’t really generalize them as cheap I suppose because we don’t know the other side of the story.
2. “You all head wobble” – This is a common thing I have personally seen when we come to a new country. Yes, we do have a way of acknowledging things but…..
Reality: There are only certain percentage of people who head wobble in India. No we are not asked to stay back after school hours to teach and practice the head wobble all our schooling. It just comes naturally when you see people of that particular region use it. And sometimes, it may take time to realize that people from other parts of the globe may be confused. So yes, that happens but again, not everyone does it.
3. “Every Indian believes and follows the concept of arranged marriage” – I have been asked this on several occasions. And I always have the same answer…
Reality: Yes, a large part of Indian society still finds the concept of love marriage unacceptable and in certain parts looked down upon so much that people don’t really have a choice. But, as the youth population is increasing and the mindset of people are changing, a lot of youngster’s today prefer making the choices of life partners by themselves (with approval from parents of course, else it’s just a mess). Also, no, we do not just meet strangers one day and the next day get married to them (if that’s how one thought arranged marriages are). It is a systematic search done by the families and based on (I have no idea what reasons) if someone is chosen, the prospects meet and see for themselves if they like/stand each other the first time. Followed by meetings (approved by families) and so on.
4. “Indians don’t know how to drive/ You people drive on the wrong side of the road” – I have been hearing that ever since I have come here and I end up with a conversation about transport system. It’s just…well…
Reality: I recently learned the story behind why we drive on the left-side of the road. Now in simple explanation here it is – in olden days, the soldiers use to travel on their horses and since most of them were right-handed, it was easier for them to be on left side of the road, use their right hand for fighting if required and be safe. This changed when US and some countries in Europe decided that they needed to be on right. But to this day around 18 countries, basically all the British colonies (used to be) continue to drive on left hand side of the road. So no, we are not the only ones driving on left-hand side/ wrong side of the road.
- “Do you all speak Hindu/Indian?” – In the beginning this was surprising to me but as I understood some basic things it was a normal question and can be explained simply as follows…
Reality: India has 23 official languages, 122 major languages and 1599 other spoken languages across the country. Now I can understand why it may be such a bizarre thing for countries that have one official language (with different dialects of course) but this is mainly for clarification purpose 🙂
6. “Does India make cars too?” – This was on the way to some place in one of my acquaintances car and my immediate question to him was ‘how do you think we travel in first place?’ Nonetheless, this is what I explained to him –
Reality: “The automotive industry in India is one of the largest in the world with an annual production of 23.37 million vehicles in 2014-15, following a growth of 8.68 per cent over the last year. The automobile industry accounts for 7.1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product.” Having said that, India exported $14.5 billion worth of automobiles in 2014. Some of the top importers include US, UK, UAE, Mexico, South Africa, etc. And for all those who are unaware, in 2008, Jaguar-Land Rover was bought by Ratan Tata. He is the chairman of Tata Group that is one of the leading business house of India.
- “So basically India is exactly like Slumdog Millionaire right.” – Every Indian I personally know and a lot more would agree with me in a blink if I told that India is not like it is shown in that movie and we honestly hate that movie.
Reality: No, we don’t like that movie. It is not a true representation of India. India is a very big country, a rich and a diverse place. The slums shown in the movie, I have never come across such a place in my life. (This was also asked to be included by few of my readers specifically, so then I was even more sure about this fact.)
All these stereotypes were listed not to deny what is there and what isn’t. But only with the hope that some day, generalization will decrease. I found this cool post on 2-versions of India that you can check out here.
Let’s not judge everyone / group / country based on one bad experience. As a wise person once told, all fingers of the hand are not equal. Let’s stop the comparison. We are all the same species after all 🙂
P.S. Please leave your opinions/experiences in the comments below. Also, share with all your non-Indian friends if you think it might help the perspective 🙂
P.P.S. My next blog will be about common German stereotypes and why they are not all true (Just like India), so that at least the understanding between the people of these two countries (even in the smallest way) is better 🙂 You can send in your ideas/views/experiences with respect to German stereotypes via email too 🙂