“Do you really travel by Bullock carts in India?”, imagine being asked that. Being an Indian, it one of the questions I am asked more often than I’d like and forced to answer rather politely, otherwise God forbid what they would think about my country. You would think that in this day and age people would know a little more about the 7th largest country in the world whose population seems to be overwhelming not only itself but the entire world! But no, it’s always the same. “Do you have Elephants walking all around?”, ” Do you really eat with your hands?” And the evergreen, “So, do all people in India speak Indian?”. FYI, there’s no language called Indian!
It’s called the internet people, use it for something other than Facebook! If you were to open your eyes and walk around tomorrow, I’m pretty sure that you would see at least 1 Indian during your day. Yes we immigrated and have been for years now. For those of you who are still ignorant about the country with the fastest growing population, let me be so kind as open your eyes to some the facts about the “Exotic land of India”.
1. All Indians are smart and will steal my job. Not true. I have the personal pleasure of knowing some VERY dumb Indians. And n,o we do not steal all your jobs just the ones we take less money for.
2. Indians roam around on bullock carts and elephants. It’s got 4 wheels and can take you from place to place. It’s called a car. And yes, we’ve heard of it. We’ve also made the cheapest one available. It’s called the TATA Nano. Google it.
3. Indians are poor. Hmmm, how do we tackle that? Well, India is the fourth among countries which have the most billionaires. So yes, some of us are VERY rich.
4. Indians don’t have TVs. Really? You’ll call it running and dancing are trees. Most know it as Bollywood. It generates 3 billion dollars per year. Where do you think that comes from?
5. Indian boys can’t talk to girls. Yes we’re all very familiar with this one all thanks to the Big bang theory. Sorry to ruin it but no, most Indian boys can talk to girls. Sometimes I wish this one were true though!
6. Indians live in slums. Thank you Slum dog millionaire! India has slums like any other big city in the world. It’s where people, who come to the big city with dreamy eyes and no money, stay. But most of us stay in houses.
7. India is backward. We got our very own Formula1 track before the US of A.
8. Indians eat with their hands-Always. We eat with our hands and we love it. I’m pretty sure the rest of you’ll are just jealous of the careless abandon in which we enjoy our food. But it mostly happens at home. Outside we use forks and spoons just like the rest of you.
9. All Indians are Hindus. While the majority of us are, there are many Christians, Muslims, Buddhists,…. We don’t always get along but we try.
10. India is a land of snake charmers. Back in the old day, Hell yeah! it may have been a prestigious profession, now-a-days though, no one wants to pay you for doing something they can watch on TV.
11. All Indians have an arranged marriage. Even after seeing all those Bollywood movies? Well, unfortunately, a rather large chunk of the youth gets coerced into believing that there’s someone somewhere out there for them and they start looking for them as soon as they can. It’s called dating, I know 12year olds in India who are dating.
So there you have it folks. All your questions answered.
You’d really think that we’d have gotten over the stereotypes and the prejudices, what with globalisation and everything. But we still remain on the ignorant. It’s not really hard to learn but it’s easier to just stick to what we’ve heard. No matter where you go, you will face stereotypes – Dumb blondes, smart asians, poor Indians, somber Germans. It’s only the people featured in the stereotype who change. We all have certain assumptions of people based on what we see and hear but we never bother with finding out the authenticity of it. We bask in the glory of anonymity while continuing to believe that ignorance is indeed bliss. It’s only when the cards are turned and we’re on the receiving end, that we realise the harshness of it. The inhumanity and unfairness of it all. We’re pushed into a mould and expected to fit into it despite striking evidence to the contrary. We’ve all faced stereotypes and prejudices and lost out on account of it. A job, an opportunity, a friend, a life,… and why? Only because of our ignorance and laziness.
We talk about globalization, the world being a small place and being a global villager. But we still hold on to our petty prejudices. We can’t accept what we see but we’re only too ready to cast what is before us into the image we have in our heads. Get over it. Get over yourself and your ideas. Take a step outside. Break a stereotype. See what it feels like to open your eyes.