There are numerous misconceptions about Indians in the minds of Americans and vice versa which are untrue. Having lived here, in US, for more than a year,I was a victim of many such misconceptions too. I noticed how “we” and “they” have FALSE notions,impressions and perceptions about “each other”.
Through this blog post,I plan to bust some of the myths about both India and USA!
To all Americans,
1.India was a “Rich Nation” before Independence: India is NOT a third world nation or developing nation. India had abundant supply of natural resources,gems,jewels,gold coins,artifacts and valuables etc before rulers like Mohd Ghazni,Mohd Gori, Britishers,Portuguese,French and Dutch plundered them.
During Krishnadevaraya’s era, gold,silver coins,precious gems and jewellery were openly sold on streets without any security arrangements. Also,the costliest diamond in the world,the Kohinoor,which is now,safely preserved in London,is from India! Britishers had plundered Kohinoor diamond from India.
2.Indians DO know English: Thousands of children in India learn English as a part of their curriculum as first or second language every year. English is taught as a language rather than a subject in many schools in India.We have the ability to read,write,speak or understand English.
I remember one incident when my husband took me around in his office introducing people. A chinese lady greeted me and then turned to Pradeep, and asked,”Does she know English”? Can she understand what I m speaking?
To which,I smiled and replied,”Yes maam,I have learnt English for 20 years in India as a first language”.
Point to be noted: Just because a handful of Indians in USA speak broken English, please don’t assume that We,Indians don’t know English.
3.Indians live with their parents to “take care” of them: Few people here,surprisingly asked me,”Do you live with your parents in India”? Don’t you live on your own independently?”
To which,I proudly replied,” Yes, we believe in the concept of “Family Bonding and Togetherness”, as a part of our rich cultural heritage.We take care of our parents during their old age in India. Our parents go through several hardships to raise us and give us a good life,so we take it as our duty to live with them and take care of them when they need us the most.”
4. India DOES have Shopping Malls: Movies like Slumdog Millionaire have given the whole world an impression that entire India is in rags,slums and poverty. Its high time we boycott or prevent such movies from being filmed,which portrays India in bad light.
When I visited India for the second time this year,my husband asked me to capture pictures of few malls in Bangalore,in order to show them to his collegues and boss,proving that, “India does have shopping malls,pubs,shopping complexes and hangouts, and not just slums”!
5. For Pete’s sake,it is “GANDHI”,not “GHANDI”!!: I was really frustrated when a lady spelt Gandhi as “Ghandi”. On correcting her, all I got to hear was,”That’s the way its spelt in English”!
When Google[whose head quarters is in California,USA] and also wikipedia throws “Gandhi” as search results,why on earth do you spell it as Ghandi then?
He is considered as “Father of the Nation” in India and I swear, you will be equally frustrated if someone,adamantly,spells your father’s name,incorrectly!!!!
Also,does it give us,Indians, the right to spell Abraham Lincoln as “Umbraham Linken” then?
For God’s sake,names are proper nouns and the spelling Gandhi remains the same,irrespective of it being spelt in English or Urdu.
Similarly,we,Indians have lots of misconceptions about USA and Americans.
To All Indians…
1.USA DOES have beggars and poverty: We grow up seeing english movies where everything is shown attractive,pompous and glorious. We always see people clad in rich clothes,driving costly cars and living in pompous houses in movies. In serial,Friends,we see that the heroine works in a coffee shop in NY and yet owns an expensive apt. Uh Ha!! That actually doesn’t happen in real in America!
I have come across many homeless and poor people standing on streets with placards displaying,”I m homeless” or “Need money to drink beer” in USA.
There are people living in USA without income or low income or where electricity and water is cut off as they are unable to pay their bills. There are homeless people who aimlessly wander on streets.
Also in Memphis,during winters, the temperatures drops to minus 12 to minus 15 degrees. The mayor of Memphis,actually gets huge tents constructed to accommodate homeless and poor people,who,or else will be frozen to death in such severely harsh temperatures.
As they say,”Grass is always green on the other side”, there are few negatives like poverty in USA which are not shown or portrayed in movies.
2.Americans are Smart : - Usually,we think Americans are not smart or hardworking like us which is absolutely false. We think they are not technologically smart,hence most of the jobs are outsourced to India.
But the truth is: Americans are not dumb as we think. If an American doesn’t know some concept,he will work hard to learn and implement it. Also,Americans study courses like law,medicine,engineering,business because of their interest,not because his parents want his to study or friend or cousin or his neighbor is studying it. They are very punctual. They arrive on time and when they work,they work for 8 hours correctly,without wiling away time.
Labor is expensive in USA. To get a job done by an American,its expensive,hence most of the jobs are outsourced to India as we are not that expensive. Oustsourcing is not because we are smarter than the Americans,but because we work cheaper than them.
3.Independent life is NOT a piece of cake: We,Indians think that in US,its easier to lead an independent life. We have machines for everything and can lead life happily. But its wrong. Labor is extremely expensive in US. If I have to hire a house keeper, I have to pay her $1000 for performing just 2 tasks for just 2 days a week.
$1000=50,000 which is 100 times more than what we pay for normal house keeper in India.
Also,we don’t have people working at gas stations[petrol pumps] to fill diesel or gas[petrol] into our cars,like we have in India. Instead,we need to park our car,step out of it,set the pump meter,hold the nozzle and refill the petrol on our own.
Living independently is not a joke here. Suppose one of us falls sick,the significant other will be the only one who is available to take care,unlike in India where we have our parents,in laws,brothers or sisters to take care of us.
Thus,Indians and Americans have several misconceptions and wrong perceptions about each other. Few Indians living in USA do not represent or portray the entire India and similarly, english movies just show us the “good side” of USA.
We all,Indians and Americans,collectively need to bust all these misconceptions and learn to see the “Other WORLD” of each other.