Exploring a new culture is always intriguing, but what’s more shocking is to discover what they believe about yours… It can be amusing at times, and some moments even make you feel proud, while sometimes it stirs you up and makes you explain yourself. Let’s get things straight: here are the labels I was faced with in India as a foreigner from the West.
We are filthy rich
True, many people including celebrities come from abroad and spend some weeks or months in India in order to have a rest and forget about their “first world problems”. They might be the ones who use rickshaws as entertainment instead of transportation and stay most of the time behind the secure walls of their 5 star hotel suite. But apart from the picture what Indians get about us while watching Pretty Little Liars on TV, most of our stories are quite different. We are the ones who save up for the flight just to come and volunteer at an NGO giving back something to humanity while gaining an amazing cultural experience. The ones who come here for a lower salary just to get a grasp of the Indian lifestyle, and the ones who keep every coin just to be able to travel somewhere new. We have different stories, but we may also bargain with auto drivers or the shop-keeper so that we can make ends meet.
We cannot bear spicy food
This is a light one and honestly, we won’t take it to heart. Although an intense 2 months training of several work lunches with my Indian co-workers had been efficient enough to achieve my transition from curd-rice to Punjab-chicken –if you know what I mean. Watch out though, because you would be surprised by the capacity of a Mexican or a chilly-chewing Hungarian countryside man.
We are promiscuous
Hollywood culture had quite an impact on the reputation of people from the West, nevertheless, the movies in the cinema do not necessarily mirror the life we live in. We indeed can be more open about our sexuality having a less conservative culture, but at the same time lingerie ads and small bikinis won’t stir up our men as they do in India. I do think that at some points western media had gone too far with the image it conveys to the upcoming generations –furthermore broadcasters won’t cut out the provocative scenes for us, but luckily they are not the documentary film of our reality. There are people who preserve their gift until marriage, and there are others who live their sexual life freely. Some had gone through divorces while others never want to marry and we are okay with that as long as they are happy and don’t hurt others. As a matter of fact, all of these stories exist in India as well but still as a new wave trend beneath the surface…
We all have perfect accents
When I meet Indians for the first time, especially in business, they often change their tone of voice trying to fake a British accent, or even apologize for their way of speaking. Given that I was raised in Eastern Europe I don’t think my pronunciation is intimidating, and I think none should be. I find the diversity of tongues lovely all around the world and charming accents can add a glow to one’s character, so Indians are not exceptions either. We all try our best to communicate accurately in a language that is in fact foreign to us, but so long as we can understand each other there is no need to feel shame or worry.
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