Thursday, October 19, 2006

The (NR)I-ndian defence force

So one of my professors in my Master’s class was telling us about this book called 'Negative News' which basically talks about how the media in developed countries only seems to report bad news from developing countries. Floods, famines, coups, bombings. Such news not only establishes certain images of certain countries, but it also reinforces existing stereotypes about these nations. I'm sure not everyone in Somalia is starving. I'm sure not every girl in Venezuela is born with a fabulous body, has a head that is customised to just about nicely fit the Miss Universe crown, and can't speak English. But that's the image of these countries I had in my head for the longest time, reinforced again and again by the media.

The professor was telling us about his days in the US. In one of his undergrad classes, he was talking about using a hair dryer, and a hand shot up.

"Dr S, you mean you have hair dryers in India??"

Pat came the Prof's reply. "Yes, we may live on trees. But somehow we have hair dryers."

One of my classmates also shared her experience. She told us of the time when she had gone to Princeton for a seminar. When the speaker found out she was from India, she asked my classmate, "Do you have electricity in India?"

I remember the time when I had just entered Singapore. One of my classmates in my first year who was very curious about my origins, asked me, "Oh, you're from India! So back home do you travel on elephants and stuff?"

"Elephants? Sure, I used to go to school on one." I said.

My class had many international students and I was surprised at the image they had of India. At first I used to get really pissed off when I encountered such questions. Especially when the person who asked the question was disappointed to learn that India was not really the jungle he/she thought it to be. "Oh you mean Indians can speak English? Darn!"

So within my first few days here, I'd figured sarcasm was the best way to get through such situations.

I had a list.

"Yes, we kill all the female infants at birth. Except, of course, those who look like they're gonna bring home the Miss Universe or Miss World crown."

"Oh yeah, my dad is a snake-charmer. All dads in India are. You didn't know that?? Really??"

"Yeah, it's our culture to sing and dance around coconut trees. Our ancient texts specifically mention it."

"Yeah, that's how we wear a sari. We lay it flat on the floor, lie down against one edge and just roll and roll till we reach the other end."

"Bathroom? What's that? In India, we use a pail to fetch water from the village well and then sit there and bathe."

"Cows wandering on the roads?? Oh no no, they're traffic policecows - government employees."

"No, we don't have drinking water in India. Sorry."

A few years later, when wisdom sank in, I realised that I'm probably doing the same thing that the media was doing - reinforcing the stereotypes about how primitive India was. So I changed my strategy. To one which I called the 'BUT - HAH!' strategy.

"Yes, many people in India are illiterate. BUT you should thank your stars they are. If they were literate, India would take over the global IT industry. HAH!"

"Yes, our government is very unstable. BUT we don't have morons running our country like many other countries in the world. Do you know how qualified some of our leaders are? Our president is a nuclear scientist. HAH!"

"Yes, you guys earn more than us and live in more comfort. BUT we know how to chill - we know how to stop and smell the flowers. HAH!"

"Yes, many people are very poor. BUT have you seen how some of our sportsmen who come from poor backgrounds kick ass? HAH!"

"Yes, many of our TV serials are stupid and cliched and uncreative. BUT our ads more than make up for them. If you see the level of creativity in Indian ads, you'd die of shame. HAH!"

"Yes, we learn Sanskrit - a dead language - in school. BUT we invented zero. HAH!"

"Yes, there are tiny villages in remote corners of my country. BUT the capital city of my country is bigger than your entire country. HAH!"

"Yes, violence is rampant in India. BUT did you see how fast Mumbai sprang back to its feet after the train blasts? HAH!"

"Yes, we sing and dance at weddings a la Bollywood movies. BUT that's just our way of preserving our culture. What's yours? HAH!"

In time, I realised that some of it was so lame. I felt like I was being too defensive and not really addressing the stereotype. At times I felt like I wasn't even qualified to defend India. Having lived comfortably for the past 8 years in the 'air-conditioned island-country' enjoying a full sponsorship from the Singapore government, perhaps I was not even qualified to talk about India's problems. Perhaps it's easy for me to make grand statements in the defence of India because I don't live there, like the millions of people who struggle with life on a daily basis do. Perhaps I don't even know what the real problems are. What I do know is that things are changing for the better. It's not like India enjoys its problems. India is fighting them and it's not an easy task. The factors that affect development in India are specific to India. There's no point comparing it with how fast other nations are developing.

So I'm changing my strategy again. There is no point hiding the negativities behind the positivities. They will never balance each other out. Every country has things that make its citizen proud and things that embarass them. There is always some good and some bad. And repeating the good things again and again will not make the bad things go away. We have to celebrate the good things and acknowledge the bad things and try and change them. Like they said in Rang De Basanti "Koi bhi desh mahaan nahin hota, usey mahaan banana padta hai." ("No country is born great, we have to make it great.")

So yes, we have too many people in my country. Yes, the pollution level in some cities is so bad people have to wear masks. Yes, summers can get so hot and winters so cold that people who live on the streets die. Oh, did I mention that many people live on the streets? Yes, we have street dogs. Yes, cows on the street often disrupt traffic in many cities. Yes, it's been more than 50 years and we've not yet resolved our problems with our neighbour. Yes, if you're a girl walking on the road by yourself, you will most probably encounter tuneless singing of songs in your praise by eve-teasing roadside romeos. Yes, some people chain themselves to their suitcases when they're travelling in trains in order to still find them there when they wake up the next morning. Yes, the water in some cities is so hard, you have to boil it just to shampoo your hair. Yes, our politicians fling chairs at one another during parliament sessions. Yes, there are cities where you do not have electricity 24 hours a day. Yes, the monsoon can bring the entire system of some cities to a complete standstill. Yes, there is firing across the border every single day. Yes, many of our roads have more potholes than speed bumps. Yes, bombs and guns go off almost every day in my country, killing innocent people.

So yes, my country still has many many problems.

You mean yours doesn't have any?



73 comments:

Mary said...

Nice :)

I had an Indian friend from Kenya who used to do the same as you! He told people he lived like Tarzan up trees, had pet lions etc.. lol it was hilarious! :)

But its true that lots of people don't have a clue about any other country than their own.

I can't wait to visit India one day :)

shub said...

...and there was this Viet guy who asked me,"so do you guys speak English in India?"

Bivas said...

//"Yes, our government is very unstable. BUT we don't have morons running our country. Do you know how qualified some of our leaders are? Our president is a nuclear scientist. HAH!"
This takes the cake...n No it isn't hiding negatives behind positives.

Some facts to be proud of:
1) A nuclear power within 50 yrs of independence.
2) We don't go about shooting innocent kids in schools.
3) Indegeniously developed satellites put in space.
4) One of the largest and developing IT industries in the world.
5) Ever wondered where all those Made in India stuff goes (when we just find Made in China in the markets)...guessed right...all found in the foreign market.
6) Most importantly: In all our 1000+ years of history, we have NEVER attacked/waged a war on any country.

chanakya said...

Hey i love my country but we didnt exist as a country in its entity before the brits so we can hardly say we never waged war or attacked a country.

Reghu said...

:D

PSV said...

awesome post.

Bivas said...

Appreciate the viewpoint...but we might not hv been a democracy before the brits...however, we did hv (and still do) a culture to be proud of...India was not called the Golden Peacock for no reason :-)
The greatness is acknowledged even by the Nobel committee when they said that not giving the Nobel to Gandhi was a big mistake. How many countries has this happened in?

Adarsh said...

Yo Sayesha !!! verry verry good. Lage raho !!!
JAI BHAARAT !!!

Harsha said...

Awesome Awesome Awesome post :)

"Yes, many people in India are illiterate. BUT you should thank your stars they are. If they were literate, India would take over the global IT industry. HAH!"
Loved this one in particular. :)

Lage Raho Sayesha Bhai !!!

Anonymous said...

Hi Sayesha,

Really interesting to read your blog, especially since face quite a few similar situations - as am too an indian girl working in singapore.

Well keep going strong as its really fun to read!!

Anonymous said...

25, is the number of 'yes'es i think you used in your post. Well, I should have used 'cntl+f' to reach to exact figure but the idea struck only after me completing the count.

anyway, India is the best place to be in.

Happy Dipawali.

satish

saty said...

the last line sums up the kind of attitude one must have while dealing with such questions...just as foreigners have perception problems @ us, so do we also have perception problems about them, this can't be denied. Surely when you went to singapore for the first time you must have had some notions(+/-) about the place, which may have changed after been there....most indians like us, are a ditto fit for that MTV slogan.." we are like that only":)

Strider said...

Your "Yes" wale statements bahut negative nahi hai?
Yes we do have a dysfunctional Government , red tape what not... but we haven't lost hope yet.
Inspite of all our shortcomings we still come out trumps...

And to add a filmi twist :
"Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota,use perfect banana padta hai"

So let's strive to make our lives better and in doing tht make our country more prosperous than it is now..

Lage Raho Sayesha Bhai!!

Are you Kidding Vineet said...

You have an amazing fan following :). With the hits you have you could literally start charging people to read ur blogs (lol).

Honest, warmth, funny, opinionated, not afraid to bare oneself ( That's quite striking). whats ur thght on what makes ur blogs strike such a chord ( it may be obvious, but wld love to hear it from the donkey's mouth so to speak :))?

One more q, which I never seem to answer convincingly and u seem to have found, aren't certain thghts/moments way to special to share on such a forum. For instance one of ur blogs mentions the moment u felt was so right, that if death came by ur doors that would be the oppurtune moment.

Sure makes for a great reading etc, but isn't that a way too private moment that u would wanna share it with anyone/everyone?

cheers,

Vineet

The Smiling Girl said...

Acha wala post that Behen... :)
me lovey lovey it.. :)
Lekin, eve-teasing is lot under control now re.. you dont evn have to justify it now! :)

Lalit Singh said...

Sahi kaha
media is responsible to some extent for harborig such kind of feelings in peoples minds. Yahan the only pics that they show of india will be either:
sadhus or sanyasis
with weird hairdos n body paint...smoking a joint or something... the kind which would give even the normal Indians a creepy feeling
Performers
eating snakes/tubelights/wood/metal, dancing the monkey.bear on the street
Protestors
burnings some flag/banner/effigy
and people celebrating holi

and after each pic i have to explain to inquizitive people what the pic actually
Imagine one day a guy at office asked me how is the terrorism in punjab... i had to explain him that the gun wielding terrorists are long gone... now the only dreaded ones are the mic holding one who churn out album after album

chanakya said...

most of the time the difficulty i have is trying make the taxt drivers in singapore understand that i do not speak in Tamil.
However what takes the cake is on the way to the airport when i mentioned i was going to a cousin's wedding the guy nearly braked to a stop. he couldnt believe that i was going for a cousin's wedding. :lol:

Iday said...

Nice post :)

Inder said...

well, almost every human is prejudiced. it is tough to have a open mind.

by the way, our chola kings conquered parts of burma, sri lanka, malasia, sumatra, indonesia, cambodia, thailand,... i think we don't have to prove ourselves greater/better/holier than the others. at the same time, we are in no way lesser than the others.

Anonymous said...

LOL on the elephant part. We had convinved an American grad student that another Indian girl had elephants at home as a pet. He believed every pack of lies we told him until my prof set him straight with this answer -
"J, these guys can multiply 3 digit figures without using a calculator. Do you think they are so stupid that they still ride cows to work ?":)
To lazy to sign in - Sakshi

Anonymous said...

Sayesha,

really a touching post to be read by all NRIs. Good work sister..

Happy diwali.

Sayesha said...

#Mary,
//He told people he lived like Tarzan up trees, had pet lions etc.

Hahahaha! :D

//I can't wait to visit India one day :)

Hope you do soon :)

#Shub,
Hahahaha! What did you say?? :D

#Bivas,
Yeah, I used to list the good things too, which I think is fine as long as you don't do it to outdo 'the other list'! ;)

#Chanakya,
Will let you fight it out with Bivas :)

#Reghu,
Whoa! Comment from you after AGES! :D

#PSV,
Thanks :)

#Bivas,
Will let you fight it out with Chanakya :)

#Adarsh,
:)

#Harsha,
Thanks :)

#Anonymous,
Thanks, dear. Next time leave a name/nick, will ya? Easier to differentiate you from the anonymouses :)

#Satish,
Chih chih! Tujhe aur kuchh nahin mila is post mein jo count karne baith gaya? Dhikkar hai tujhpar! :P

#Saty,
Yup, we're like that only :)

#Strider,
//Your "Yes" wale statements bahut negative nahi hai?

Anything untrue there? :)

//"Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota,use perfect banana padta hai"

And I totally totally love this line! Best part of RDB :)

#Are you kidding Vineet,
//whats ur thght on what makes ur blogs strike such a chord ( it may be obvious, but wld love to hear it from the donkey's mouth so to speak :))?

Uhh... err... are you kidding Vineet? How will I know yaar? :)

//but isn't that a way too private moment that u would wanna share it with anyone/everyone?

Well, if it was, it wouldn't be on the blog, would it? :)

#Smiling Girl,
//Lekin, eve-teasing is lot under control now re.. you dont evn have to justify it now! :)

Kya bol reli hai? I was in Hyd two years ago, and in Delhi the following year. And it's still pretty bad yaar :(

#Lalit,
//now the only dreaded ones are the mic holding one who churn out album after album

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! ROFL! :D

#Chanakya,
//most of the time the difficulty i have is trying make the taxt drivers in singapore understand that i do not speak in Tamil.

Join the club, bro! :)

#Iday,
Thanks :)
(Was that your shortest comment ever?) :)

#Inder,
//well, almost every human is prejudiced. it is tough to have a open mind.

Yup, I agree. No matter how open we say (or even think) we are, prejudices stay.

#Sakshi,
//"J, these guys can multiply 3 digit figures without using a calculator. Do you think they are so stupid that they still ride cows to work ?":)

Muahahahahahaha! Kya baat kahi, WAAH! :D

#Anoymous,
Thanks dear, happy diwali to you too. Any name or nick I can address you by? :)

Anonymous said...

@bivas.."Most importantly: In all our 1000+ years of history, we have NEVER attacked/waged a war on any country"
bcoz we were bussy fighting among ourselves!

@sakshi..hilarious..even made my mom read it..3 digits without calculator n cows !!lol

Bivas said...

Happy Diwali...Have lotsa fun over the weekend [:)]
//Kya bol reli hai? I was in Hyd two years ago, and in Delhi the following year. And it's still pretty bad yaar :(
Someone teased you!!!Naah ;-)
//really a touching post to be read by all NRIs. Good work sister
Bhai ko sister bola...hehehe [:P] show em ur gang waala post [;-)]

Sayesha said...

#Anonymous,
//bcoz we were bussy fighting among ourselves!

Hahahahahaha! :D
Yaar, leave a name/nick behind when you comment :)

#Bivas,
Happy Diwali to you too! :)

//Someone teased you!!!Naah ;-)

Unfortunately bhai logon ki bhi eve-teasing ho jati hai kabhi kabhi! :@

//Bhai ko sister bola...hehehe [:P] show em ur gang waala post [;-)]

Hehehehe... gundagardi mein sistah, bruddah... same difference! ;)

Bivas said...

@Anonymous: Yeah we might have been busy fighting ourselves...n probably the reason y we were ruled by the brits...but we survived...didn't we :D...and as strider pointed out rightly in the filmy andaaz..."koi bhi desh perfect nahin hota...use perfect banana hota hai"...
can't help it yaar...jaisa bhi hai jo bhi hai aakhir apna desh hai...and I'm sure u love ur country in a similar way
btw who am I responding to...aapka koi naam to hoga?
@Sayesha: plz xcuse the xtra dose of comments here :-)

Restless Rain said...

I like the sarcasm and the BUT-HAHs! Hee, u can say them to me anytime, really cracked me up :).... hmmm, maybe I should goad you... ;)

Aashun said...

"Yeah, that's how we wear a sari. We lay it flat on the floor, lie down against one edge and just roll and roll till we reach the other end."
now, now , time out here!
Is it not the way girls wear sari?
?????????
Man, I need a girlfriend.

asterix said...

apun se na bhai ek angrez ne long back pucha ki tumhare country me saala yeh ladki log bindi kyon put karta hai...apun bola ki apney india me na husband log archery practice kartey hai, aur target practice apni biwilogon ke bindi pe kartey hai ;)

Sudipta Chatterjee said...

Hmm... I too faced similar questions in Scotland. Here the image is different I think. And I found articulating the whole thing to them to be the best solution. Once in a while it makes sense to play along: affirm what they think about elephants and all, but sometimes they miss the sarcasm. I found it much easier to point out via photographs, descriptions, etc that what they know is rather what the media wants them to know. And it worked surprisingly well. So that the next time on BBC report they were saying that someone lived on a wage of only a pound a day, a lady turned back and asked me the conversion rate and also the cost of an average meal. I know that those 80-90 rupees a day are not much, but still the picture wasn't what the report was making it seem.

Anonymous said...

Nice post. Have a great diwali.

IndianArchie

chandu said...

and we do live 'with' our parents.

Nidhi said...

we do not have "billions" of people Sayesha dear....its just (wink) one billion :)
BTW love your writing...actually finished reading all ur blogs a couple of days back

dharmu said...

Superly written bhai, only you could have come up with such desi post in a very un-desi way!!!

cheers to you, well, i must say, did have a couple of thoughts myself when i landed in US.

I had one of my co-worker asking me, who gave milk??? cow???
er... ???

Sayesha said...

#Bivas,
Feel free, my friend. Comment space is for commentators, isn't it? ;)

#Restless Rain,
Hahahah! I'm dreading today's lunch with you now! :P Trust me, you dun wanna see me at my 'Defend India with sarcasm' mode. Really, you won't even be able to tell whether I am serious or sarcastic. :D

#Aashun,
Oh yeah! And that's what girlfriends are for eh? To wear a sari in front of you? :/

#Asterix,
Sheesh! Hahahaha! :D No wonder phoren guys want Indian wives! :D

#Sudipta,
This reminds me, a friend was showing photos of poverty-stricken Indians living in slums to a Singaporean girl. And she exclaimed, "But they are smiling!" And my friend said, "Yes, they are poor. But they're happy. Who says you have to be rich to be happy?" The girl was so surprised! She told me her whole view of poor Indian people changed after that! :)

#IndianArchie,
Thanks :)

#Chandu,
Oh yeah! Forgot to mention that! :D

#Nidhi,
Eeesh! Typo. Corrected it. Thanks for pointing out :)
ps: Wish you'd said the good stuff first and pointed out the typo in the 'BTW' part though ;)

#Dharmu,
Hahahahahhahaaha! :D You should tell them we have cow's milk, buffalo's milk, goat's milk, even donkey's milk in India! :D

chanakya said...

everything except soya milk to be sure :lol:

Anonymous said...

fuck those bastards... i hate it when someone says stuff about india in a way to sound cool... you know what dude? if you think you are being smart by saying things about india that don't really make sense, you are not only wrong but totally stupid...

So what if we are BROWN? that doesn't mean a thing!! why the fuck do you guys spend so much money to get tanned? it's all about the brown skin right? you see us walking down the road and say.." hey are you indian?" i know why you said that you son of a whore, because you saw my color first... did i say... "hey you must be pigmentally challenged, right cock sucker?" ? did i? i didn't... so why judge us on color?

Shilpa said...

Wow ... awesome post !

I've encountered the same questions and my reply just depends on my mood...sometime sarcastic...sometime I just shock them by praising India...and sometimes I just laugh.

ღ lil_kath ღ said...

Hey Wishin' u and ur family a Happy, Bright and Prosperous Diwali!! and a wonderful year ahead too!!

... how's u dear kawaii?? am i still welcome here? :P its been a while na... i dunno, its like im out of nowhere ^_^

im just around dear... reading but soo lazy to write anything sometimes ^_^ muaahh! hope ur doin fine ...
any special Diwali celebration there in Singapore? post some pics. na...

take care and enjoyyyyyy!

hugss,
-kathy-

ღ lil_kath ღ said...

... will be back to read the post, rushin' to bank right now ^_^

ciao!!

viv said...

You're right... there's no point hiding the negative stuff. As with other countries, there are lots of things to be proud and other stuff to be embarassed about. The BIG question is "what can/are we do/(ing) to improve things". In my case, the answer's "nothing". Maybe some day, I'll change that.

Iday said...

//Was that your shortest comment ever? :)
Perhaps :D
Do i get something for it!??! :P

Actually - i cud have made THIS comment the shortest ever by stopping with only the first line ;)

chanakya said...

which reminds me are there any diwali celebrations here in singapore?

Basanti said...

Yes, we learn Sanskrit - a dead language - in school.

BUT that is how we keep our scriptures alive!

No country is faultless, but the sad thing is that people still consider india synonymous to political unrest and the land of snake charmers.

Yes, India does have its share of communal disharmony, but what could be a better example of unity in diversity that the world's largest democracy has two men from the "minority communities" as the most powerful men of the nation! The President and the Prime Minister!

And I would have asked the same question as you! :-)

Nidhi said...

feedback taken :-)

BTW it was the typo that motivated me enuff to comment :D
~waiting for ur next blog

Sayesha said...

#Chanakya,
Hahahaha! Arre India mein aa gaya hoga soya milk, gotta check! :D

#Shilpa,
:)

#Kathy,
Hiii girl! Where've you been yaar? Loooong time no see!! Happy Diwali to you too! :)
ps: You're ALWAYS welcome here, Kathy. :)

//any special Diwali celebration there in Singapore? post some pics. na...

Nothing really special yaar... am just happy to have the weekend to work on my thesis... I'll just make some gulabjamuns, and do some rangoli and henna, light some diyas... bas :)

#Viv,
Totally echo your thoughts. I've often wondered if I'll ever be able to do anything meaningful for India. Hmm...

#Iday,
//Do i get something for it!??! :P

Naan sense. Don't squirm outta the truckloads of panipuri that you owe me man! :P

#Chanakya,
Oh is this your first Diwali in Singapore? Ghar aa jao :)
On a serious note, Little India has some celebration, but I have never seen in the last 8 years cos the crowd scares the hell out of me. :)

#Basanti,
Kya karein... aisa des hai mera :)

#Nidhi,
//BTW it was the typo that motivated me enuff to comment :D

Oh boy. That's not a good thing to happen :P

Dreamcatcher said...

Someone in Boston told me with surprise - oh but your English is so good.
I was so pissed off I replied - so is yours.

Iday said...

//Don't squirm outta the truckloads of panipuri that you owe me man! :P
Bahut bholta hai re thu!!!
meet me at my office 5 PM tomorrow and we finish this deal :P
And yeah - did i say the deal's void after the deadline?!?! ;)

Iday said...

//Arre India mein aa gaya hoga soya milk, gotta check! :D
Aa gaya :)

rt said...

As usual making any topic intersting..but thoughts are real!!
Great post !!

Harshi said...

Seriously yaar, I am tired of all the negative news. I don't even feel like reading the news these days. I start with hope, and give up. I am sure many people here in USA have negative opinions about India, which they keep to themselves. If the topic does come up, I just tell them the honest answer...whatever I know. And I also tell them how much I do love and miss India. Yeah, every country has good and bad stuff happening. Many Americans are NOT proud of so many things happening here. I am sure they wonder, what I, as an Indian/foreigner in their eyes, think about them....whether I am judging them. Haan, I feel change has to start at the individual level. We can all make our world better, if we each have the right thinking towards things. If we all have the same sense of what right and wrong is? Like forming a line is right, eve-teasing is wrong...etc.

Hey Sash, Happy Diwali! I wondered if your blog post will have a beautiful diya picture.....:-). Has it been a year already? Last time I think you had posted a photo of diyas at your doorstep?

Ekta said...

hey,
very well written...somehow the world seems to think we still live in the tribal age...hah!

Rohit Talwar said...

This post is kick ass. Hug yourself for this. I bet every nation is trying their best to not let India become what we can. Everyone is aware of the dirty strategies of the "developed nations." But, reality shall knock soon.

Brilliant!

Tarun. said...

A person knows best where the shoes pinches.
I think Bollywood, Indian food, bhangra pop have really enhance the images of India and Indian society.
I damn care about people thinking of India as a land of snake charmers and elephants.
Ignorance is no more bliss in today's age, it is a crime.
So pity here for people who still have notion about a country which is the fifth largest economy and doesn't fear China exporting everything.
As of date I think we export more to china then what we import.

@ Nidhi and Sayesha's reply.
we do not have "billions" of people Sayesha dear....its just (wink) one billion :)
BTW love your writing...actually finished reading all ur blogs a couple of days back.


Anything more than One is plural, right? We are definetly more than a billion and counting so in a way we r a country of "billions".

I think we as bloggers need to spread out the positive aspect.

Indian media sucks too. They have convinced me that I live in a state which is about to collapse, go bankrupt, turns anarchist just about everything one would associate with a failed state.

Jeevan Baretto said...

Hey Sayesha.. Nice to see a serious post from you..!! Very well written.

ggop said...

I was disappointed to hear your friend got such questions in Princeton. I always assumed the NorthEast and Silicon Valley to be different from the rest of the US when it came to global awareness.

Books like Friedman's The World is Flat are on the bestseller lists. There is definitely more awarness among educated Americans about India and the reality there.
gg

Hitha's Space said...

hey i came by u r blog thru smiling girls blog. I remembered vagely u had an episode where some namkeen stole ur writing claiming to be hers. How did u resolve that?? i have orkut user who is stealing my article claiming to be his.

The Smiling Girl said...

Abbe.. tu kahan hain? update kar....

Bivas said...

oye kudi...kitthe gayi...kuchh naya post kar...
3 din se keyboard pe F5 maar maar ke keypad jam ho gaya hai!!!

Bivas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Bivas said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Sudeep said...

ohh ho... my elephant is having dysentery n m having a lot of trouble clearing all the poop

i m confused whether to defend my country or go on offensive on it.. guess every nation has its own share of problems

but i luv this incident.. mail mein tha
one big industrialist is telling his son "Eat ur meals. Ppl in India dont get their 2 meals"
Next gen.. tht son now tells his son "Study properly.. or else those Indians would leave u unemployed"

Sudeep said...

ohhh n happy diwali :)

Sayesha said...

#Dreamcatcher,
Hahahaha! That was brilliant! :)

#Iday,
Hahahaha! You wish, dude! :)

#RT,
Thanks :)

#Harshi,
Yeah well said! Change has to start at the individual level.

Happy Diwali to you too! This year I did have a simple rangoli and diyas but no post on it :)

#Ekta,
Thanks :)

#Rohit,
Thanks :)

#Light-House,
Your comment made me happy, sad and angry at the same time :)

#Jeevan,
Thanks! :)
ps: Hey, I do write serious posts too, ok? :P

#GGOP,
I think there's no point in segmenting areas as those that know the truth and those that don't. Truth is - there will always be someone somewhere who doesn't know the real India. And there will always be problems in every country.

#Hitha,
My friends and I flamed Namkeen into giving in. She admitted her mistake and apologised.

#Smiling Girl,
Apun yahin hai re... :P

#Bivas,
Hahahaha! Bechara F5! Naya post kar diya! :)

#Sudeep,
Tere ko kitni baar bola haathi lekar bar mein nahin aane ka?? X-( Ab tu saaf kar! X-(
ps: Happy Diwali :)

Tarun. said...

Happy sad and angry ... well thats a mixed bag of emotions ...
I wish to know what made u happy & sad & angry?

Bhuvanesh said...

wow.. wat a post.. dis made me feel better and sad at the same time.. not many posts hav done tat to me.. cheers.. very very gud one...

Babble said...

Here is an email i got some 10 yrs ago:
Next time you get asked an annoying Indian question, answer it like
this...read on, it's funny!

Q. What does that red dot on women's forehead mean?
A. Well, in ancient times, Indian men used to practice archery
skills by target practicing by aiming at their wife's red dot. In
fact, that is one of the reasons why they had many wives. You see,
once they mastered the art of archery and hit the target....


Q. You're from India, aren't you? I have read so much about the
country. All the wonderful places, the forests, the snake charmers,
the elephants. Do you still use elephants for transportation?

[note: This one we were actually asked in August '93 by a real
estate agent when house-hunting in Boston.]
A. Absolutely. In fact we used to have our own elephant in
our house. But later, we started elephant-pooling with our neighbors,
to save the air. You see elephants have an "emissions" problem.....


Q. Does India have cars?
A. No. We ride elephants to work. The government is trying to
encourage ride-sharing schemes.

Q. Does India have TV?
A. No. We only have cable.

Q. Are all Indians vegetarian?
A. Yes. Even tigers are vegetarian in India.

Q. How come you speak English so well?
A. You see when the British were ruling India,they employed Indians
as servants. It took too long for the Indians to learn English. So the
British isolated an "English-language" gene and infused their
servants' babies with it and since then all babies born are born
speaking English.

A variation to the above is a compliment ---
"You speak very good English."
Response: Thanks. So do you.

Q. Are you a Hindi?
A. Yes. I am spoken everyday in Northern India.

Q. Do you speak Hindu?
A. Yes, I also speak Jewish, Islam and Christianity.

Q. Is it true that everyone there is very corrupt?
A. Yes, in fact, I had to bribe my parents so that they would let me
go to school.

Q. India is very hot, isn't it?
A. It is so hot there that all the water boils spontaneously. That is
why tea is such a popular drink in India.

Q. Are there any business companies in India?
A. No. All Indians live on the Gandhian prinicples of
self-sufficiency. We all make our own clothes and grow our own food.
That is why you see all these thin skinny Indians -- it is a lot of
hard work.

Q. Indians cannot eat beef, huh?
A. Cows provide milk which is a very essential part of Indian
diet. So eating cows is forbidden. However in order to decrease the
population of the country, the government is trying to encourage
everyone to eat human meat.

Q. India is such a religious place. Do you meditate regularly?
A. Yes, sometimes I meditate for weeks without food and drink. But it
is difficult to keep my job, because I have to miss work when I
meditate like that. But the bosses there do the same thing. That is
why things are so inefficient there.

Q. I saw on TV that people there walk on burning coals. Why do they
do that?
A. We don't have shoes. So we burn the botton of our feet to make it
hard so that we can walk.

Q. Why do you sometimes wear Indian clothes to work?
A. I prefer it to coming naked.

Sayesha said...

#Light-house,
Well, I felt happy that India is moving ahead rapidly, sad that many people think of us in a negative way, and angry that I am not in a position to change things.

#Bhuvanesh,
Welcome to Sayeshaz and thanks for commenting :)

#Babble,
Hahaha! Long list! Yeah I think I got it as a forward too :)

ggop said...

I should have explained better - most of the US will be ignorant about any country outside North America. This happening in an Ivy league school is more disappointing to say the least.

India is a land of contrasts, the media does like to focus on the problems more than we'd like them to, so I guess your tackling them head on is a good way to address questions from these people.

gg

Tarun. said...

Y r u sad over people thinking negative about us?
Are only people dying of hunger in India?
Give me a break.
The aftermath of Cyclone Katrina has shown us all how hollow claims of American prosperity are.
The focus on negative well we can't do much about.
Well talking of change, offcourse we can all contribute provided we r determined to stick to it.
The size of change is immaterial coz it just takes a pinch of salt to change history.

Lizabeth said...

I know very well what it is to get questions like that. I hate those questions and sometimes give answers in the same way you give. I once told my classmate that at one time people used through eggs at the elocutionist if the speech was not good.Since then she has asked me why do they throw eggs and whether it is our custom, sveral times. It gets me nuts that I wish fervently that I had some eggs to throw at her.

Lizabeth said...

Please forgive my spelling mistake for throw(I put through).

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