Misconceptions About India and Indians

I am sick and tired of the misconceptions that foreigners in foreign lands have about India and Indians. It is all the more appalling in today’s day and age of information at your fingertips (pun intended!!).

Otherwise educated, mature people often say some of the most bizarre things.

So I decided to compile a list of the most ludicrous misconceptions I have heard. Please feel free to add to the list. If we get a lot of them going, we could have a wikipedia entry on it !!

1) All Indian food is hot and spicy.

No its not. It’s the fucking stupid Indian restaurant run by a Bangladeshi dude, that has created this problem. Most cheap “Indian” restaurants in NYC are run by Bangladeshis. They cant cook Indian food if their life depended on it. I think we should petition the Indian Consulate here to file a defamation lawsuit against such restaurants for sullying the good name of Indian cuisine.

2) All Indians are Hindus

No we are not. A majority are, but there are enough Muslims, Sikhs, Christians, Buddhists, Jains, Parsis and Jews to make India a melting pot of religions. The only reason we are all holding together, and not exploding like Yugoslavia, is because we have been through it once.

3) People do sometimes travel by elephants on a daily basis in India

Yes we do, when our regular SUV’s are in the garage. We also have the new 2007 Hybrid version, and another one that will work on biodiesel, and in the future on human crap, (especially American). Seriously, why would anyone think we still travel by elephants. If we can Indians can do your taxes and solve your dumbass computer problems sitting 8000 miles away, do u think we could do all that if we commuted by elephant?? Do you Americans commute on bisons ??

4) Why are we so good at English. Do they teach that in school in India ?

No, they don’t. We just picked it up on the long 22 hour flight that we took to come here. And for those who are still there and are answering your tech support and customer service calls, well what to say. They were injected with stem cells, that your President is so reluctant to research. These stem cells, once injected into the system, within 12
hours, turn a mumbling Tamil or Gulti man/woman into a fine English speaking machine.

OK jokes apart, we learn English from pre-primary school. Why ?? Because when the British ruled us, they dumped their language on us. Of course we were smart enough to embrace it whole heartedly and therefore we are so good at some of the tasks discussed in (2) and (3) above. I wish the guys in Kentucky and Alabama had done the same. It’s a whole different language out there.

5) All brown people are Indians….

NO !! we are not !! There is a big difference between Indians, and other brownies…aka Bangladeshis, Pakis and SriLankans. We come from the same geographic area labeled the Indian Sub-Continent, and hence I can understand your misconception. But no we are totally different. Try asking a Canadian if he is American and see his reaction. And you will know what I mean.

6) Are all Indians taxi drivers ??

Hell fucking NO !! Didn’t I just say above that we do all the work that you Americans are too dumb, lazy, or stuck up to do. In reality the whole cab driver ploy is a government plot hatched by Nehru in the early 60’s in compliance with the Soviets. We sent a whole bunch of our worst drivers to the US to drive cabs. It lulled the US into thinking that this is all we can do, and hence started the Brown Revolution, now spearheaded on the web by Sepia Mutiny. Of course, they haven’t taken point (5) seriously.

Have you faced similar or other such misconceptions in everyday life living here in the US or in other parts of the world ??

I would love to hear from you.

27 Comments

  1. Red April 14, 2006

    Hilarious. You remind me of the Angry Asian Man, who posts similar rants. Keep on rockin’, dude.

  2. Nagu April 14, 2006

    All Indians smell like curry, huh!

    Didn’t you ever hear that? I think thats funny. My friend! anger is not a solution to resolve such misconceptions. Education, in my opinion, is the tool. I had friends who had totally dumb conventions about Indians when we first met, but as they learnt more about Indian culture, they tend to appreciate the curry “farts”, and some even got addicted.

    I think some of the misconceptions are pretty fuuny. That make me laugh out loud.

  3. Patrix April 14, 2006

    OK! now you seem to have moved both your blogs to WP and they look very similar to Saket and my blog 🙂 so much for MT love, eh?

    ok ok..this is the last time I rib you about this. Heh.

  4. Santosh April 14, 2006

    On Indian roads, there are more cows than people!!!

    Yes, we love cows and we consider them to be very sacred. If any Indian doesn’t see 251 cows every day while commuting, he’ll most probably die by that evening. So we place cows at strategic points like the traffic signals, etc.

    This is all so cow-shit.

  5. Basu April 14, 2006

    Dude, you have used some slangs in your site which may be offensive to people of certain state/country. While your post is indeed funny I won’t advise usage of such slangs.

  6. Bose April 14, 2006

    What about “All indians speak Hindi?”. Not everybody speak hindi.. some dumb guys in the center after getting independence dumped Hindi on all of us. None of the south indian states speak Hindi !!

  7. Mario April 15, 2006

    Do Indians eat snakes ? I think this misconception come from the movie Indiana Jones. Do all Indians own a 7/11?.

  8. sud April 15, 2006

    All indian women are bethroed at birth.

    And all wedddings have a bollywood extravanganza song and dance.

    If i had a dime evertime i was asked, i’d be bill fucking gates.

    *sighs* stereotypes =) we’re all guilty of it.

  9. Vikrant April 16, 2006

    lol, the situations not THAT bad over this side of Atlantic.

  10. Christine April 16, 2006

    Loved this article! And yes, we’re all guilty of stereotypes… but learning to laugh at yourself is just as important as laughing at other people. 🙂

  11. Vidyanath April 17, 2006

    A good list Arzan!

    ——-
    Are you (all) Vegetarian?
    Only vegetables and loads of rice for you? Poor you, why are you torturing yourself like that?

    And try using harmless words like fortnight, nevertheless and see the reaction with americans. “They apparently think you are crazy and stuff, ewwww”

    Do you take 2 showers everyday? (this is a rare one but I heard it more than once)

  12. Nirav April 17, 2006

    Another one is – India is always at 40 degrees celsius at all times of the year. People refuse to believe that there are places in India which are bloody cold, and even your Delhi or Calcutta in winters is quite chilly… to them all of India is reeling hot

  13. Ken Falco April 19, 2006

    Extremely funny post. Out here in the UK (especially in Manchester), if you’re brown you’re first a Muslim and then a Pakistani! The number of times silly white folks have asked me whether i’m a Muslim and a Pakistani is beyond belief. And they get a funny sort of relieved look on their faces when you tell them you’re from India and not a muslim. They can’t get the whole tolerant thing either. Also everyone in India speaks Hindi or Indian/Indi (as some people call it). And all we ever eat is HOT & SPICY Curry which is served in the numerous “Indian” restaurants almost all of which are owned by Pakistani’s and Bangladeshis. Whatever happened to dosas & idlis and of course there’s hardly anything for those poor vegetarian fellas! And Bhajias are called Bhajjis (no prizes for guessing why I immediately thought of Harbhajan Singh when I made this discovery) needless to say much grossness & hilarity ensued!

  14. BangaloreGuy April 24, 2006

    From the folks who have seen bollywood but dont know Indians personally:

    Do you dance? c’mon, you must dance! All Indians are such fabulous dancers.

    The comment on Dubya and stem-cell is priceless.

  15. Rahul Mulchandani April 26, 2006

    Too Good. Needs to be trackbacked.

  16. jorwon April 26, 2006

    hahaha…dis is jokes…lol…ill job..

  17. iamtheone April 30, 2006

    Simply amazing! make sure you write remaining ones after sometime 😉

  18. naiky April 30, 2006

    I would have loved to add to your list but I have learnt to stop myself….

    Honestly I work and travel in multiple countries and I have learnt that I am equally ignorant about many things despite being a globe trotter. I hope my hosts and colleagues in these countries are not offended by my stupid questions.

    My intentions are good (interest, curiosity) but the impact may be different (anger, frustrated with your ignorance).

    But looking for similarities rather than differences between cultures improve your chances of making a true connection with people and the adjustment then follows naturally.

    People are the same across the world with a few stereotypes:)

  19. Guto May 6, 2006

    there are a lots os misconceptions about brazil and brazilians, as well.
    for example:

    1) everery brazilian is an expert in samba

    2) you can easily found a snake, a crocodile or a monkey crossing a main street in Rio or Sao Paulo.

    3) people walk naked in the streets when in carnival (this kind of things happens only in specific places, an actually great part os the brazilians are moralist)

    4) brazilians have an easy way of life (we are so stressed as an new yorker, maybe even more, because of urban security and violence problems).

    5) brazilians women are “easy” and good for sex (this one is terrible)

    and theres much more, but this can illustrate the situation.

    cheers!

  20. Greatbong May 9, 2006

    Have to disagree with you—Bangladeshis cook way better than Indians IMHO. I have gone to a few Indian restaurants in my life (having met me you know what I mean :-)) and I strongly disagree.

  21. Rita Rai June 8, 2007

    yes..they think we do not have washing machines in any of our houses unless it is a very rich person’s house. 😛
    ridiculous

    They think we have less cars on our roads, very very few actually..
    My answer-come n face the mumbai traffic n then tell the same

    They think none of us are fair at all. They think i am from ‘other european nations’. I wonder what they will say when they see Kareena n Karisma Kapoor?

    They think we are all either thin or slim….lol…..
    [ofcourse they mean we do not have enough to eat]

    The english speaking question is eternal…everyone who meets , asks the same atleast once.

    Will write more when i remember.

  22. Komala Rangaswamy November 13, 2007

    hey…
    i cud not agree with u more… love the stuff… btw u forgot their opinions on indian movies… that all indian movies are from bollywood and that they are all bout funny looking people running around trees… em in norway for a year.,… its seems like this country is leavin on another planet.. the only thing they hear bout india is bout some indian woman fleeing to their country coz she was raped by her father.. they cant believe that we have cities and that we r much better at computers than them.. i don understand how to screw it in to their pea-sized brains!.. anyways thanks for the stuff… n em sorry… i might be using some of ur opinion in my talk tom.. ( ofcourse with due credit to u)….
    keep up the good work!

  23. vish December 26, 2007

    the problem with the yanks and others such is that they have had it good for too long and therefore they have grown fat in the belly and in the head. now who ever heard of such stupidity? an average indian immediately googles for an answer and appears smart to the other guy some 8000 miles away. look at them? they still believe hogwash! so let them. good for us ’cause it is easy torule the ignorant one, he can be taught twice.

  24. Amit July 11, 2010

    Are these foreigners not literate?? Don’t they know who handle their country’s computer problems, their medical problems, scientific problems, engineering problems. They just know that Indians drive taxis. I would suggest them to sometimes read the data how many Indians are working in NASA, MICROSOFT, IBM, etc…. Just count number of Indian doctors in their cities or count number of Indian millionaires in their city.

  25. Surya Shekhar September 26, 2010

    You are damn right about these, but it should also be remembered that it is us Indians that whole heartedly embrace Westernization and look down upon our own deeprooted and glorious traditions which does NOT include riding of elephants, but science in everyday life (Nearly all superstitions are scientific) and maths (Numeral system, the concept of zero…).
    And the never answered question of our great English education! A few days back I was chatting with a Cambridge degree holder on Facebook, and she said “My English is not as good as yours. Have you any degrees in English?” and I could not resist answering “Well I am only in Class 9”.
    This misconception (in spite of the fact that most of Indians do not know to write in their native tongue) is something I really enjoy 🙂

  26. NAZIR-NAND NAGRI December 7, 2010

    I NEVER THINK ABOUT-that all d world have any kind of missconceotion for INDIA despite the known that INDIA is a higly devolping country

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