No eye contact please, I am Indian.

Three events in the past one week have had me thinking about something that I suspected for a long time. When we Indians see each other in foreign surroundings we do not acknowledge each other.

A few days ago, I picked up my lunch from a street vendor down the road. It was the typical “chicken kebab over rice” stall that you see all around NYC. The guy manning the stall was a desi dude. With a couple of other customers before me, he was friendly, making conversation etc. But when it came time to take my order, he all of a sudden turns dour and dosent even look at me while I am placing the order. Its like he dosent want to serve me, but has no choice.

On another occassion, I bought a newspaper from an roadside stall. In NYC, by some quirk of fate, every single newspaper vendor is manned by a desi. I regularly stop by at that stall, but the guy never looks up and talks. Ant that is only with me. I’ve seen him react with others, regular American folks….white, blacks, hispanics…. and he chats with them like long lost pals.

And these two events are not in isolation. Many a times when I encounter a desi looking person on the subway or so, we both instantly know that the other one is a desi. A brown brother from the same motherland. But instead of just a nod or acknowledgement, there is an instant turning away, as a in some way to say, I know u r desi and and so am I, but am ashamed to say it.

Now, we Indians are not the unfriendly sort. You just have to walk in any city and town to know that we will make it our business to know everyone’s business. So then why is it that in a foreign land, when we encounter someone of our own, do we turn away, and fail to acknowledge the other persons presence.

I’ve seen my german friends, who get all excited when they hear another german voice on the subway and say hi and start chatting up and exchanging pleasantries. If other cultures can do it, why cant we. Is it that when one desi encounters another, there is a play of some kind of inferiority/superiority complex ?

A typical scenario when one bumps into a desi is as follows. First the instant realization that the other person is your own desh. Then the turning away and a complete lack of acknowledgement. Then the surreptitious looks on the sly, when one thinks the other is not looking, and then finally a parting of ways. Seems more like a courting ritual of some primate, if you may.

You may wonder why this is something that I would write about and be so agitated with. Its something that I detest. As much as it is cool to be living in New York, or for that matter anywhere in America, it does not mean that we have to assimilate so much that we fail to recognise and acknowledge our own. It does not mean that we are losing our identity. It does not mean that the other desi person will latch on to you like a leech and suck you dryof whatever he or she can.

A simple nod, hello, hi, kaise ho, would simply mean that you connected with one of your own, 8000 miles away. It shows a funny twist of life, that of the 1 billion of us, we two could connect and cross paths in life, half a world away. Ain’t that awesome !

Of course, these are just my observations. I would be interested in knowing if you have had any such similar experiences, and agree or disagree with me. Please express yourself in the comments section below.

So next time you bump into another “brown brother from another mother” stop for a second and acknowledge them.

And I promise, that if I see you, I will do the same.

54 Comments

  1. sunil October 31, 2005

    I totally agree with you, and it’s a very perceptive post.

    When i started blogging, i wanted to write something about this as my first post. But the words just wouldn’t come.

    I’ve often felt really bad that i smile and say hello (i do that always as i walk along), but Indian faces turn away or divert their eyes….or do silly things like whipping out their cellphones and starting a conversation (in panic?)

  2. gawker October 31, 2005

    Yeah, very true. I think it’s the forced acknowledgement of a common origin that irks people. I think they say to themselves “shit, do I have to be happy to see this guy just because he is from my country? Would I be this happy if we were both in India?” And so, the reaction you get is actually one of hatred. It is quite funny.

  3. Gaurang October 31, 2005

    Arzan, there should be a deeper significant psychological reason for this. Because this effect is “too pervading”. I find this all around me, many desis do not like to be in areas where there are too many desis. One of my friend wants to go back to India after a year, but still does not want to live around too many desis while he is still here. Our college USC had too many desis, and many desis actually did not like their presence.

    This being such a universal trait among desis, there must be a significant psychological reason behind this.

    I am not able to nail it right now, but it might be something like this — by no eye contact one desi is trying to tell this to the other desi: “I came here to the US to enjoy material bliss, and to escape from my third world country. I didnt come here to see you, you desi. And I know that you dont need support/help from other desis anyway. I know that you are well off here, and are enjoying the material pleasures. What do I have to do with you now? Of course, if you need me, I am there; but normally, I dont care for your presence.”

  4. arZan October 31, 2005

    Sunil thanks a lot. I would love to read your observations, and hope you do pen them some day soon.

    Gawker I think you bring out a very interesting point…about a certain kind of pseudo-hatred !

    Gaurang Sorry for the problem with the comment posting thing. In doing some house-cleaning on this site on the eve of Diwali, I inadvertantly turned it off.

    I agree that there definitely is a psychological reasoning for it. I can’t nail it down too, but I am dead sure that its a mixture of a few things, all residing in the sub-conscious.

  5. Atanu Dey October 31, 2005

    Only a desi knows the truth of your origin; he knows more about you than the foreigner does. So you cannot pretend that you come from a better place than you really do in front of a desi. Therefore you resent that knowledge in the other person and show disdain to hide your discomfort.

    Only when Indians become proud of where they come from — which will only happen when India is a place one can be proud of — only then will desis acknowledge each other in foreign lands.

  6. Thalassa November 1, 2005

    Arzan, I have two words for you, Quickstar and Amway. Unfortunately too many desis in the US are involved in these dubious pyramid schemes, and more often than not, the overly friendly, chatty, smiling desis are the ones who want to recruit you to these schemes. I have experienced it first hand, when I’ve been stopped by a beaming, friendly desi, only to be given the spiel about the “wonderful exciting opportunity” that I can be involved with.

  7. neha November 1, 2005

    I think it might have something to do with the perception of service industry within India. Some jobs are just not considered dignified enough. Perhaps the legacy of colonialism is that while a Desi in some kind of jobs is comfortable in a service relationship with a non-desi – but a similar relationship with another desi – brings forth the questions of dignity.

    But the stuff that you talk about is very true. But less true for Pakis, Bangladeshis and Sri Lankans.

  8. Sakshi November 1, 2005

    Well…here is my bit.

    I have faced same kind of problem during my uni days in Sydney. But the difference here was that..we overseas students were avoided/ignored by Desi kids from Sydney itself. They would prefer to stick among their own kinds (abroad born desies) and Australians.

    Somehow, they think that if they acknowledged us then we would back our bags and move into their homes…

    I guess it’s more of an image issue with them.

  9. Green November 1, 2005

    Hmm I can talk about Europe, many a times other Desis have said Hi to me and many a times ignored. I myself have done both, the only reason I would not like to say Hi to the other desi is that they might not reply back or turn their head other side or worse think I am nosy. Unless you are sure of the other person it is difficult to say ‘Hi’

  10. Niren November 1, 2005

    I guess sometimes, some people are apprehensive of how the other person might take to it. Perhaps, next time you go to the newspaper vendor, indulge is a bit of idle banter and he might actually reciprocate. Sometimes you have to take the initiative. Many a times we sit next to a stranger on a plane and dont speak to him/her for the entire duration of the flight. And in the end both might feel the other is cold, whereas all it would have taken was for one to start a conversation.

  11. Kumar November 1, 2005

    It may seem cynical, but the fact is that the concept of Indian is fairly new. After all before the Brits there was no India. There were a couple of ‘Rajadoms’ however there were no Indians…

    Even now a ‘Desi’ might be a ‘Paki’ or a ‘Bangla Deshi’ or even a ‘Srilankan’.

    Even among ‘Desi’s’ it cud be a ‘Guju’, ‘Golti’, ‘Madrasi”, Mallu’ etc.

    Well anything common?

    Then ofcourse we have the fear of ‘One Up Manship’ ‘Greencard, H1B, B1…’

    Best avoid.

  12. daycruz November 1, 2005

    Arzan, perhaps it just might be the East coast that’s the problem. In Oregon, most desis make it a business to know about each other. Mostly because there’s only ten thousand of us in the entire state as opposed to four hundred thousand in New York.

  13. Falstaff November 1, 2005

    Arzan,

    I’m not sure that I see any reason to make any special effort to talk to desis. If anything, I find it vaguely irritating that total strangers seem to assume that they know me in some way just because I happen to come from the same country as them and will come and act familiar for no discernable reason, when all I want is to be left in peace. I know I snub desis more than I snub other people, but that’s more because more desis will try to strike up conversations with me.

    Of course, if you are the kind of person who is extremely social and regularly strikes up conversations with strangers (as your newspaper stand salesman seems to be) then I agree that it’s ridiculous to be less friendly towards someone just because they’re desi. But if you’re like me and want to have nothing to do with strangers in general, then I don’t see why you should be expected to treat desis any differently.

  14. rashmi November 1, 2005

    I guess in NYC, where every fourth person you see is an Indian( a stat I got from Kal ho na ho… lol), most Indians don’t really get excited when they see another Indian. Like in India, we do not automatically nod and wave hello to people we cross on the streets… in a similar manner, when there are so many Indians around, people stop acknowledging them. I came up with this theory when I was in NYC last winter.
    But in other smaller cities like the one in which I live(somewhere in the middle of corn fields in Ohio), brown people get terribly excited when they see one of their own, ‘coz its not a common sight. In smaller cities, people actually go beyond the Indian bracket, to the South Asian bracket and include pakistanis, bangladeshis, nepalis and Sri lankans as one of their own.

  15. Ganesh November 1, 2005

    Let me give you one reason why? AMWAY. They are a pain. They start by asking “Are you Indian?”. “Which part of India?” and goes on and on and on. In the end comes the question, “What is your telephone number?”. You feel so close to them after the conversation, you gladly give them your number. In a couple of weeks, you start getting calls. Start friendly and then you get invited to a marketing meeting. I have no idea what happens next because that is where I put the “Not instrested” flag up. These days, if anyone smiles or sounds friendly in a public place, I immediately turn away. Not because of any hatred, but only because of these STUPID AMWAY people. That is my opinion.

  16. arZan November 1, 2005

    Atanu I think u r bang on target.

    Thalassa, Quickstar and Amway are two nuisances. But believe me in 7 years in NYC, no one has ever tried to hook me onto one of these in the city. The only time I bump into them is at IKEA in New Jersey. Have worked out a wonderful strategy for that. Subject for a blog posting !!!

    Neha, you may have a point about the service relationship. But I have noticed the behaviour even in malls and shops and stuff, where there is no issue of service relationships.

    Sakshi, in the US, I haven’t noticed a difference between the ABCD’s and the FOB’s in this respect. Also, this phenomenon is more within the FOB’s.

    Green, interesting perspective from across the pond.

    Kumar, I think u r going onto a tangent here. Its not an issue of status, regionalism, communal, or otherwise. It’s a simple matter of acknowledging an Indian…desi.

    Daycruz..I think we need to send some Indian population to Oregon. How come the Gujju’s have overlooked it. After NJ, Oregon could be next :):):)

    Falstaff, yes I am a very sociable person, and hence feel more offended by this behaviour. And the behaviour of the newspaper stall guy with others is a give-away in the sense that he is not so unsociable. And I have at many an instance tried to strike up a conversation, but get monosyllabic answers.

    Rashmi, you might be correct. There are times when I feel I am in Bombay, because I hear so many Indian languages being spoken around.

    Ganesh, I don’t think Amway is the reason, though yes it’s a whole another issue altogether. Will write a post about it soon.

  17. Tarun November 1, 2005

    Hi,

    I boycotted a desi restruant in Fairfax, Virginia just because of this. The waiter would serve Indians only with an attitude. With americans he would be too polite and obliging. Our dishes would come late and cold. I fought with him and have boycotted the restruant called Minerva.

    Tarun

  18. arZan November 1, 2005

    Tarun

    Same experience here at Pongal on Lexington Avenue and 28th Street in NYC. Its the best south indian restaurant in NYC, but the waiters got some major attitude. They bend over backwards to please American diners, but pay scant regard to the desis.

    I stopped going there for a very long time, but they serve the best dosas, and i grudgingly go there from time to time.

  19. GGK November 1, 2005

    I have NOT had the same expereince. I live in jersey. I have exchanged pleasentaries from a bank clerk, gas station attendent to even a flight attendent on a red eye flight to san jose. The only time i havent had such is at an indian resturaunts on oaktree road where no one has the time.
    Diwali v Navwarsh ki hardik shubhkamnaien

  20. Manu November 1, 2005

    Hey Arzan,
    I have experienced similar ‘attitudes’ to what you and others have written here about. There are different issues here, I feel.

    1.Foreign-raised Indians look down upon Indian-raised Indians as a rule of thumb. (I’ve found this amongst the general Australian population as well as even Singaporean-Indians – yes I know!! I think I traced some of this back to their parents’ attitude towards India and Indians)
    But once they get to know you, a lot of this prejudice will change.

    2.Indians are generally not proud people. (We do not take pride in our heritage or our past. Nor do we hold our heads high, mainly due to the current state of our nation.)
    This, psychologically, may force Indians abroad to stay away from anything that reminds them of ‘home’.

    3.And what about the social culture prevalent in India today. Boys and girls are still getting pulled up in universities for talking (yes unadulterated chatting) with each other. If I see a desi girl, I’m not sure if she’d misinterpret my greeting a sign of flirting. I’m sure girls could say the same about boys. Damn you stuck-up people! To hell with moral policing!

    4.On a lighter note, I think it was Russel Peters who pointed out that ‘there’s nothing cool about an Indian accent or fashion or even the moushtache’. Ofcourse, the cool that is being referred to is the westernized notion that is inspired by Cosmopolitan!

    Having said all this, I think it’s despicable and ‘fuckedup’ on our part to not acknowledge a fellow ‘brown brother or sister’.

  21. Ann On November 1, 2005

    Oh, I don’t know Arzan, my experience has been so much the opposite. My ex-boyfriend and his circle of friends (ALL desi) did NOTHING but hang out with other desis (except for those they were forced to interact with at work), and seemed to notice every Indian they’d pass on the street or encounter anywhere, like they’re doing a census in their heads or something.

    True, the Indian store clerk or whoever would not always do the hail-fellow-well-met routine, but that was what I witnessed, and because I was there, like Schrodinger’s Cat, except in my case in the role of The White Chick, we more often got the Aunty’s Stare of Death (also known as how-can-you-betray-your-country-your-people-your-family-hai-Ram look), but that’s a whole other topic for a whole other time….

    On a sort of related note, I had to roll my eyes when I read recently a post from a group of fans following Shahrukh Khan and the rest of the KANK movie crew currently in NY to film. They were saying how after shooting one evening the actors left the hotel they’re based at and walked to an Indian restaurant three blocks away. Sure, maybe they were having cravings, but honestly, I couldn’t help but think how often do Indians abroad eat nothing but Indian food? I just found it really funny that these actors, temporarily residing in one of the great food cities of the world, all troop off for what was probably some very mediocre Indian food, the Bangladeshi kind. (I’m guessing this because there’s not many decent Indian places within a three-block radius of where the hotel is).

  22. Manish November 2, 2005

    hi

    I also had observed this and even discussed with one of my friends who has been staying there for years. His explanation – When one Indian sees another he thinks that this fellow has come from the same place as I and may try to acquire my share here

  23. Manmeet November 2, 2005

    ive just moved up here and to be honest ; ive had a completely different experience. im not an extrovert but ive bumped into indian students on the road and made friends.last weekend i went shopping and an indian girl was manning the gap counter. we began talking about the horrible winter in syracuse was expecting and she gave me all sorts of sage advise on how not to die from hypothermia and moreover on how to get an additional 20% off on Gap….maybe its a student town. i dont know…But Ive yet to meet an indian who ignores me here !

  24. Nilesh November 2, 2005

    Hi,

    I think Gaurang has it bang on target. I believe, its a manifestation of the fascination for white skin and the effect of British Raj we still have ingrained in our psyche. We still, subconsciously, believe that white is better. And when desis go abroad, they want to escape from the ‘poor’ India that is. They want to become a part of the white crowd. When they see a desi, they are reminded of their origin, which they are not really proud of. I think that’s why the inclination to avoid desis. When I had been to NYC, I observed that the desi gals/guys would never ever be with other desi ppl. The group structure would be such that it had a singular or maybe two desis and 7-8 whites(or orientals).

  25. Akira November 2, 2005

    Hi Arzan,

    So its not just me!!……I have experienced similar attitudes during my 3 year stay in the US…..I mostly agree w/ the views expressed in the comments and herez my take on this issue….

    I used to get irritated by this attitude earlier, but on thinking about this I have come to realize that “we are like this only!”…

    I feel that as a community we are introverts. We can be nosy and raise hell when we are on familiar turf, but we don’t know how to express ourselves when we are in alien environment and end up giving wrong impressions. That is one reason for the head turning and forceful smiles.

    Another reason is that very few people (extroverts) would go up to a person to say hi-hello if they have a well established social circle. As a person new to the country I would get excited to see a fellow desi or hear some native tongue. But to these people I was just another new face who had come to US. So I guess in a way their actions are justified…

    I am not sure why the difference in behaviour when it comes to servicing fellow desis. It could be the “sahib” attitude that desi customer’s show or the feeling of inferiority that the service provider feels.

    I guess we need to be aware of our body language and how we react to people and learn to portray ourselves as casual and friendly instead of the “approach-me-not” or “ooo-I-am-ready-to-be-your-best-friend image”.

    Good observations Arzan. Happy writing and Happy Diwali!!….

  26. Dhruv November 2, 2005

    very optimistic:) I blogged about this some time back as well.. –
    http://chitgo.nomadlife.org/2005/10/familiarity-breeds-contempt-here.aspx

  27. Shrik November 2, 2005

    Thalassa:

    Couldn’t agree more about the Scamway/Quickstar thing. Now I’m instantly suspicious of anybody who hints at opportunities to ‘change my life’.

    Arzan:

    Very strange. Admittedly, I’ve only visited countries in Europe as a tourist for a week or so, but everywhere I’ve seen an Indian, in my experience the first impulse has been to practically run up to that person and get all chatty. About half the time it’s happened the other way round too!

  28. Zuben November 2, 2005

    Hi Arzaan,

    I have faced similar situations and felt frustrated and agitated about the other desi ‘looking away’ or ‘completely ignoring that you said Hi’ etc etc.

    I finally figured that there is no reason for me to get frustrated. So I sport a nice smile and say ‘Hi’ to any desi I see anywhere. Sometimes they reply, sometimes they are so taken aback by the sudden exibition of friendliness that they are completely confused. Now the confused kind either reply back saying “Hi” or turn away and remain confused about it. I am sure the ones who dont respond keep thinking…. oh did he just say hi…. no.. yes I think he did… then why did you turn away… I dont know… instant reaction I guess…. etc etc.

    I let the confused ones be confused and I move on.

    So I suggest that we all start saying ‘Hi’s to fellow desis without really caring if he/she is going to respond or not. Also look for the confused kind they are kind of fun to watch 🙂

  29. nina November 3, 2005

    Perhaps off on a tangent here: similar experience but not abroad. Right here in Delhi. Older relatives seem to reserve these ‘formalities’ only for visitors and guests, not family. So the polite banter, the I’m-fine responses to the how-are-yous denote a distance in the reltionship, not a closeness. For family, we get a long litany of woes – the REAL answer to the question, not sociable patter! So in a desis meet abroad situation, the ‘friendly’ facade is for the foreigners, why waste it on one of our own… wot say you?

  30. arZan November 3, 2005

    GGK, you are one of the few lucky ones !! What else can I say.
    Manu, yes once you get to know them, then reactions are completely different. But the issue at hand is, one’s behaviour with a stranger. I agree with your point about Indians not being proud people. The same point was raised by Atanu Dey in a comment earlier.
    AnnOn, I agree completely about how many of us desis try to find Indians in a crowd and then make a conscious decision not to acknowledge them. I see it happening a lot with tourists who come to NYC and see more than their share of desis. About Shahrukh Khan eating Indian food, I think it could also be that he wanted an ego boost, and wouldn’t get one if he ventured into an Italian restaurant in Little Italy or a sushi bar in Greenwich village, now would he ?? 🙂
    Manish, you add one more of a whole series of reasons, why this phenomenon occurs. Thanks
    Manmeet, you might be having this experience, because Indians in smaller towns and cities are fewer to come by. In NYC they are choc a bloc. Am already working on sending a few up to Oregon, towards DayCruz !! (see comment above by daycruz)
    Shrik, I think the sensibilities in Europe are different. I studied and lived in Austria and Italy for extended periods of time, and always found that Indians there would always come up and start a conversation…a very welcoming experience, especially as otherwise the local languages were alien.
    Dhruv, interesting post. Thanks for the link
    Zuben, I think we should launch the “Am a Fellow Desi Say Hi to Me” buttons for this holiday season!!
    Nina, interesting parallels. But very close to target with the “wasting it on our own”

  31. Rajkamal Kahlon November 3, 2005

    Regarding the post about a lack of eye contact between Indians…The first example of the food vendor not being friendly makes me think that the man serving you chicken and rice was probably an engineer back home and now is embarassed or ashamed of encoutering another Indian. My father bussed tables in San Francisco for a short while when he came to the US and he had a Masters in Agriculture from Punjab University. He would recount the horror he would experience when an Indian customer would walk into the restaurant. He would run back to the kitchen and wait until they left. It had more to do with his own sense of shame at his occupation in a foreign country and less to do with not acknowledging a fellow South Asian.

    But with American born/ raised Indians I do know the discomfort you are addressing. Curious what stops you from saying hello anyway. I often look and when I don’t get eye contact give up-probably too quickly. There are so many ways we internalize racism and so many ways it shows in our interactions with others or lack of interaction with others.

  32. Sugi November 3, 2005

    This is interesting–it refers to all South Asians, not just Indians. I would say that I have definitely been complicit in this (when I was younger). In my defense, I will say that I have always been annoyed when people assume I am Indian. I’m not.

    Neither are my parents. Neither are their parents. Etc. Etc. There are other countries in South Asia; there are other countries where people are brown. Isn’t there something a little offensive in assuming someone’s nationality when you don’t know anything about them but how they look? Germans getting excited when they hear someone else speaking German–now, that’s almost a kind of evidence. But expecting something just when you look at someone? That seems a little unfair in some ways.

    That said, I do now go out of my way to hi to everyone, but especially all people of color… who I find are almost without exception likelier to respond.

    So… yeah 🙂 Hello to all of you–

  33. Santosh November 3, 2005

    dude, Your comments are definitely thoughful and thought provoking. While I totally agree with you on the accuracy of the observations, I may not do so on the seemingly psychological basis for it.

    I believe we are a lot of folks in india that acknowledging every person you meet on the road is a practical impossibility there. This trait grows so deep that when you see another Indian in the US, you momentarily get transported into india again.. how can you smile? I dont think there is too much deep rooted malevolence or stuff in this. Look at americans, for instance, who are all smiles and goody goody, but deep in their hearts you are still a nuisance. Is it this kind of skin deep amway kind of crap that we indians too should see and start imitating?

    I have always believed that when one indian sees another and wishes, it is always if he knows the other guy before. Otherwise we ignore. It is a trait. As much as smiling at everyone is an American trait. And usually when such wishes are made by Indians, there is some meaning and content and heart to it, unlike the American “hello, how do you do?”, “thank you” and “sorry”. How many American you met have actually waited to hear your response after they asked you “how do you do?”.

    This is just my take on the issue.. 🙂

  34. roohi November 4, 2005

    this blog is such a gross generalization! your experience doesn’t extend to everyone. i can only speak for myself (and would encourage you to do the same) but everywhere i go, every desi i meet at every newsstand, motel, 7-11, duane reade, subway, etc etc stops and asks me if i’m indian. and i’m not, but am happy to tell them i’m not and chat a little before leaving.

    your post assumes that every brown person you see is indian. it also assumes that every brown person you see would understand “kaise ho” as if all brown people speak your language. you assume that every brown person you see has something in common with you or similar experiences, just because they’re brown. this is reducing someone to their ethnicity – maybe the person doesn’t really identify with being south asian? why can’t that be an individual choice?

    i think all these things are very patronizing and would urge you to reevaluate your assumptions.

  35. arZan November 4, 2005

    Rajkamal, you bring a very good insight into this discussion. I have a hunch that you are very close to the truth. I have met a lot of people, cabbies et al, who were professionals with degrees in their countries but are now driving cabs in the US, and trying to live the American dream.

    Sugi, thanks for your comment.

    Santosh, I agree that the psychological basis for my argument, is not scientific. I am expressing a hunch that I have, and don’t claim it to be the truth.

    Roohi, this is my observation. I never said that this is the generalization. If you read the comments you will see that most people have had the same experiences. It also differs city to city. There is no 7-11 in New York City, so I cant talk about that. Also, there are loads of Indians here in NYC, and hence the dynamics change, from say, a smaller town where there are only a handful. I stand by my observations, but am open to a discussion on my assumptions.

  36. Jumbu November 5, 2005

    It depends what type of Indian you are looking at , He may be black african Indian , Aryan or Chinese Indian or soem Polyglot. Thats the reason you did not get noticed. Better go to a Marwadi, if you are marwadi he will talk straight! Thats Hindia man!!! you have not understood India

  37. Manoj November 5, 2005

    Some desis bug you to join some quickstar or whatever business and dont leave you very easily. This makes me think twice before I can befriend a amicable desi stranger.

  38. anon November 5, 2005

    This is true for all gaijins (foreigner) in Japan – gaijins generally avert each others gaze. So it is not something that is confined to Indians.

  39. brat November 8, 2005

    hi…got to this blog late…but here are my 2 cents…
    to arzan…how many people do you ‘nod’ to when you are walking to the local ‘tapri’?how many ‘panwallas’ have you exchanged ‘cha-aila, ‘ with…. on the local have you shook hands with your ‘co-passengers’…:)….and if your answer to all those questions are ‘sure, many of them’, then you will not have a problem talking with people here-desi or otherwise….
    …i come from india too, and i have had no problems talking with people from the home country here…other than the initial hiccup of figuring which language to speak to them with….:)…personally i dont think there is nothing wrong/right with “desis not ‘acknowledging’ desis”….but i guess more importantly, i somehow dont even think its worth a mention…people all over the world do this…and its not ‘nation specific’…but more ‘person-specific’….:))

  40. nelfern November 11, 2005

    Its not with pride that I say that I avoid desis too. Heres my experience with many of them if they are not amway/quixtar cult members.

    Do you ask a non-desi where he works, what area of software he is in, whats his salary , what car he drives , whats his green card status, if he lives in a home/apt, does his wife work, what are his childs grades and every personal private aspect of his life?

    then why do we indians take it for granted that we have a right to another indians personal life. Its only the first meeting , you do not have publish my autobiography the next day

    It drives me up the tree but since I cannot be impolite I keep answering the non stop questions being flung at me.

    Thus leading me to look the other way !!

    my 2 cents

  41. Stuti November 25, 2005

    true – infact its not only about acknowledging someone on the street…even at work place I’ve seen that one desi prefers the company of a ‘foreigner’ more than that of another desi…and this ‘gora-worship’ is especially annoying. Quite shameful it was, when one of my Australian friends in Oxford came up to me and asked…”why don’t you guys…X, Y and Z hang out together? I’ve always wondered…b/c I’d be so excited to find an australian around.” and mind you, it’s not like the place is swarming with Indians.

    I think…we, as a people, need to be more self-secure and content. Sad, it’s difficult.

  42. venkat December 10, 2005

    I perfectly agree with the attitude of indians when they meet their fellow indians in US. In 6 years experience here,I had so many encounters of this sort. I used to feel very emotional about this and slowly trying to accept it as it only hurts more to think about it. We have become more formal and becoming mechanical and losing our sentimental values. Many take pride in losing their identity. I have several russian and chineese friends who help each other and live more like a family preserving their cultural values. It is only a pity that we are shameless not to acknowledge and help our own people here. That is why we dont have a india town anywhere like ‘china town’.

    The trend is getting worse in recent years. I had atleast a dozen encounters with indians in shopping mall where they approached me spoke very friendly. Invariably everyone of them called me in a couple of days to talk about
    their ‘QUIXTAR-Amway’ Business through BWW (Brit worldwide web). It is basically decieving yourself to buy low quality product through QUIXTAR for the sake of the fractional gain associated and the hope that by pulling others in to this business (decieving them to buy the low grade products through web, highlighting the benefits of pyramid and how onle can become rich)- They are all trained to convince you that
    you have make RESIDUAL INCOME through this chain
    (If you are smart enough to drag people into this trap).

    I was so happy when I met these people in public places! soon it turned ot to be a big disappointment. What happened to us?why we have become so MATERIALISTIC losing human values? Is money everything. I am yet to see a nice guy who comes and talks to me as a fellow indian, as a friend without the hidden motivations?
    I am not saying that you dont make money? But dont sell your individuality for that!

    HEY BROTHER! WILL YOU THINK TODAY AND CHANGE A BIT? NEXT TIME WHEN I SEE ANOTHER INDIAN IN THE MALL WILL YOU SEEK HIM FOR JUST A FRIENDSHIP

  43. Zamir January 6, 2006

    Hi,
    certainly Not, Its not true, here in Canada at least, once in a while you may saw lots Indian individuals walking together guiding each other in a downtown Toronto, Or in every neighboring area around Toronto, they are stranger to each other but most of the time Indian see Indian he prefer to contact Indian, doesn’t matter there might be a distance regarding their professions but Indian always meet Indians and also try to pass comments in their native language , like Gujratee, punjabi, Muslim “SALAAM” always pass to every same Brotherly relations, never turn their back Or never avoid to engage eye to eye contact, neither dislike to contact,Nor jealous to see some one on higher status regarding profession.
    truly experienced.
    Social Worker
    Zamir Farooqui

  44. shashi April 26, 2006

    I think this is just a starting problem that we desis have. I have seen this a lot. But that does not mean that we hate to see other Indians in foreign land. We just come from a society where we are used to being introduced to new people by some common contacts.

  45. Ak`med April 28, 2006

    welcome to america. land of oppertunity and if you stay the fuck out of other peoples buissness then you wont have to worry about not getting a reply. now as far as people not looking you in the eye you need to get a clue THATS HUMAN NATURE looking into the eyes of another is like looking into there soul. now i can understand if you feel it right to say yo yo homedog whats happinin then do it just dont get irate about them not saying hi back. some are very shy or they go oh no its him fuck he was anoyying in our last life. joke. and some feel that it is a big communication gap to hear slurred english. these are my thoughts. dont be affended about them ITS MY AMERICAN RIGHT FROM THE FIRST ADMENDMENT I CAN SAY WHAT I WANT AND IF YOU ARE OFFENDE THEN YOU AS AN AMERICAN ARE NOT TAKING ADVANTAGE OF YOUR RIGHTS EITHER.

  46. Manoj August 1, 2007

    I really agree to this. I personally have had a lot of experience like this. I live in a very small town where we have around 75 to 100 Indian families, and still when we meet each other in a grocery store or a mall there is not a hint of smile or enthusiasm to khow each other. I try to start the conversation but they just try to avoid.
    I will keep trying till one day i finally succeed.

  47. sanjay August 5, 2007

    Guys..

    Why is such a big discussion going on in this silly matter ?

    Let me ask you a question, how do you know the guy or desi you see on street is not linked to some drug gang or some dangerous rapist or some terrorist group ? If you dont go around staring in India, why would you want to open doors to unwanted people in your life?

    The question is, if you miss india so much and want to be with indians then go back to india.

    brown guy can mean latino, arab, many.

    I dont want people to misunderstand me just because someone does not return your stare does not mean he hates india or etc etc, may be he /she is just minding their own business and moving on,

    why cant you guys just mind your own business instead of so focussed in making eye contacts with strangers, wether indian or not, they are human beings and let them live.

    thats the problem with Indians, they always worry about stupid issues, rather focus more on your own personal lives, stare if you want, but if other guy does not do it, he has done no crime, and i dont think he has any obligation to stare at you

    i dont stare at desis, i am a desi myself, and if i see a desi to deal with in a shop or say i just say hi how are u, nothing more.

    why should i get pulled into other people issue ?

    selfish ? why ? how come ? since when did minding own business, or stopping to stare at others become “selfish”

    no one is less than no one, wether black , negro chinese, or indian, all are humans, and if they are abroad in some other nation, then they are still same. If i want to socialize with desis i will just go to some temple or some other place of interest or indian association why bother stare at indians in streets ?

    why do indians get so sensitive and upset about this ? do you notice whites staring at each other everywhere or africans or chinese? no.

    the problem with indians is they “expect” too much from others. stop expecting so much and just go on with your lives.

  48. Rohit August 8, 2007
  49. bipin August 9, 2007

    Hi’

    I’m an Indian from India. I’ve only been to the US on two short visits and it’s sad to say, I corroborate your observation. Indians don’t acknowledge, much less greet strangers who happen to be also Indian.

    Is it something to do with the travails of being an immigrant? (I assume that most of the desis that I came across were immigrants.) Is it about the perpetual journey to “arrive at one’s true station in life”, the waiting with bated breath for a “more appropriate job” or the greencard or both? And the apprehension that the other desi being familiar with one’s phantoms, makes one feel insecure. Does this also happen with other migrant groups?

    On both trips I flew Aeroflot because it was the cheapest flight; it was all I could afford! The few Russian officials that I came across were just as dour faced and irksome as most officials back home. I wonder if it has to do with the “perceived shame” of an ancient civilization down in the dumps. Are Russian immigrants in the US ans Canada similarly unfriendly in their interaction with other Russian immigrants whom they don’t know?

  50. Mallika August 13, 2007

    Nice post,
    Have noticed the same thing in nyc myself, but i am inclined to think that it might be due to having too many indians around.while i was in san francisco, indians are not many, and whenever we would meet another indian,conversation was a given. in nyc there are just too many indians around…really, it might just as well be mumbai and not new york. but if help is needed,they quite willingly help out – that is my experience. i think they chat with everyone else since its kinda the norm(?) – i don’t know, but even if you go into a starbucks, they hv to ask you how your day was and wish you a good day so its just polite to do the same i guess.i found it quite a pain really in the beginning since when one is in a tearing hurry to reach simewhere, there is no time for idle pleasantries and you somehow seem obliged to follow the norm.

  51. Arvind July 14, 2010

    haha funny you say that – I completely agree obviously.
    http://kabinispeak.wordpress.com/2010/07/11/desis-and-eye-contact/

Comments are Disabled