The Other Perspective!

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 my hubby, 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.

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 maid, 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.

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About ARCHER!

Howdy!! I am a Blogger,a Writer and a Cartoonist! I maintain around 14 blogs ranging from cartoons,food,travel,photography,sci tech,music to reviews on books and movies.
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53 Responses to The Other Perspective!

  1. Nice post Swathi! 🙂

  2. Samadrita says:

    Swathi, a fitting post to prove that stereotypes are not always to be believed. Loved it. 🙂

  3. I came across your post thru the facebook link. I like this post. You have said the way it is.
    In my opinion, India is being looked down upon unnecessarily. Even in poverty an ordinary Indian will not turn to crime. The vast slums in Mumbai are home to people who cannot afford living in flats. There are taxi drivers, maids, govt. servants etc. living in slums who definitely earn thousands of Rupees. There are a number of small factories inside which serve as livelihood to multiple people. Their children go to school every morning ( just stand outside the “slum”) .
    It warms hearts of people from other countries in a perverse way if they mention poverty and India in same sentence. It just shows their hypocrisy and ignorance and utter disregard for the facts. Some people might do it maliciously to put down a country that is trying to develop itself and succeeding at it.
    We have to show them the facts as you rightly did. Great work and great post.

  4. Bagrat says:

    The Americans are poor with spelling out Indian names, maybe because they are so used to pronouncing it that way.

    Good insight about the misconceptions, one or more that were lingering in my mind were cleared.

  5. S.R.Ayyangar says:

    I am forwarding link of this post to my siblings in US and hope they too will share their experience.

  6. Pawan says:

    All I can say is WOW 🙂
    And I can’t agree better to the points you’ve mentioned about India, and the Slumdog Millionaire point is exactly the way its in my mind 😉
    If I could take a movie out in history to completely destroy it, I’ll choose Slumdog.

  7. Raksha Raman says:

    Tell me about it! The misconceptions are bound to exist on an international level considering the fact that India internally faces the many a discrimination issues arising from interpretation or lack of it! 😦 ‘Madrasi’ ‘Mallu’ ‘Bong’ ‘Manoos’ blah blah…Hope the point is driven home after people read your post! Good one! You go leaps and bounds while speaking your heart out! 🙂 Keep at it babe! 😀

    • Yes Babe!! we all have these miconceptions internally in India too!! Many people did not watch endhiran[even though it was in hindi] just for a sole reason that it was a south indian movie!! We need to break this north india,south india bubble and be INDIANS first!!
      Thanks for visiting my post and commenting on it babe!!

  8. Thank you is the word I’ve for you at this moment.

    Keep bursting these misconception with this same elan 🙂

  9. Bikram says:

    Oh yes i dont reply to people who say bikraaaaaaam to me , thankfully after so many years the people who know me here now know how to pronounce bikram.. and some of them also know how to say punjabi words when i ring them they say Kidaaaaaaan… theek thak.. 🙂 so teaching them punjabi and oh yeah andy and ian now know whats chako chako when we r in a pub and Also if i am invited at a english wedding , i am told i DONT NEED TO PAY for drinks … I wont go otherwise …

    But i understand all the points you have mentioned it is true. the problem in india is that sitting there they think its easy to make money here because of the conversion, i have 3 cousins who have come I had told them not to , i was willing to invest some money to start some work in india but they did not listen and said i was lieing now they are here they can see no jobs and they are like crying to go back home but cant go because of all the debt they have taken …

    and yeah we do know english the 2nd or 3rd day i arrived in uk i was talking to a guy he says ur english is good , i told him yepp.. i have studied 🙂

  10. You know what?? I get pissed when people call me SWATY instead of Swathi,and to top it, one lady told me this..”H is silent in ur name”!
    What the hell??? H should be emphasized in my name more!!
    Same situation with friends and relatives too… They think we live like King and Queen here and when we send photos of our trip,they think we are showing off!!!

  11. Haresh says:

    A truly enlightening post 🙂

    Thanks for sharing personal views based on own experiences 🙂

  12. Well-done, Swathi!

    No wonder anymore why the Indian kids are giving some nasty sting of a kick-ass to their foreign counterparts at Spelling-Bee & stuff every year because us Indians are, in fact, still richly ‘educated’ than the rest despite not having done away with the western system of education implemented by the colonial regime, at home, yet.

    Once, we revive our own ancient Indian system/pattern of education that gave the world some of the most important factors like ‘zero’ among multifarious others, the enviably superior intellectual and economic standard of Indians vis-a-vis the rest in the whole world would be anybody’s guess.

    Just voted for the significant post at Indivine and am sharing it at Facebook, too. Keep at it… Cheers! 🙂

    • Awww… Thanks Shrinath Sir.
      Yes you are right.. we gave the world zero and infinity and we are called zeroes in return.. True but sad state of affairs. 😦

      Thanks a lot for promoting and sharing 🙂

  13. We Cognize says:

    Wow, that was really a great post ! Now I wish more people read this and understand more about Indian and American cultures and people 🙂 Increased understanding between people will lead better relations between them. thanks for writing it 🙂

  14. Aswani says:

    Hello, I came here from facebook. I really appreciate your writing as I feel it is very honest and true. I have never been to US and so, I was not aware of these facts. Thanks for clearing all these facts. Btw, I don’t care what people in the west think about India. For me, India is great and Indians rock !!

    • Hi Ashwani,
      Thanks a lot for dropping by through FB! I really appreciate your time 🙂
      Yes,this is the other view of USA which even I did not know until I landed here year ago.
      Yes,India has its own charm.. and it ROCKS!!

  15. Vishal Raj says:

    Hey !! Nice post. Reveals a lots of truth and breaks several myths. You’ve done a nice try but all I got to say is that even after reading this post, people will rarely change their mindset. Such thing have been hardcoded into their mind and this will not change until they experience the good and bad of both worlds( INDIA & USA). Nicely compiled.

  16. Sree says:

    I think it’s high time we see things objectively without judgment and false pride. We should stop being defensive and stop boasting past glories.
    It is of least concern to me what others think about India. I am much concerned what Indians think about India. Ya ha pe sab chalte hai is general attitude.
    For example the whole India was very concerned with what world thinks about CWG. That makes sense that since lot of countries are visiting India we need to make a good impression.
    But as Indians shouldn’t we work towards the same standards irrespective of other nation’s opinion? Below is the statement from our minister

    #=====================================================================================
    http://cwg.ndtv.com/commonwealth/article/id/spoen20100156810/type/latest/Delhi-behaved-better-during-CWG-Chidambaram-60172.html
    Delhiites on Saturday received a pat on their back from Home Minister P Chidambaram for being better behaved during the Commonwealth Games.
    The minister said the behavior of Delhiites has improved in the last 15 days and hoped the behavioural changes are not temporary.
    #=====================================================================================

    I do see that we are moving in the right direction but it is less than what is needed.
    I came to India after 5 years and I still see the same infrastructure issues in major cities like Hyderabad and Banglore.
    We are still struggling with basic needs like water. Shekar Kapoor is making a movie on the whole water situation in India.
    Can you belive that there is something called water-mafia?

    http://movies.ndtv.com/movie_story.aspx?from=bottomrelated&ID=ENTEN20100141231&Keyword=bollywood

    He stated that India is still a feudal and tribal culture. This is clearly reflected in all the regional politics and wide disparity between rich and poor.
    Lot‘s of us still phrase that British has divided India. It’s more than 60 years that we got independence yet religious politics prevail in India. Doesn’t this imply that we are divided internally? My intention is not to demean anything, but see facts as they are so that we understand the problem and be part of the solution.
    I am doing my best not to enculture into the attitude “yeh ha pe sab chalte hai”. Because change starts with Me. However, its very difficult and hopefully a little change
    would make a huge difference.

    • Sree, you are absolutely right about the Chalta Hai attitude, but are u also not showing the same attitude now by saying, I don’t care what world thinks abt india? Chalta hai!!! When India is a part of the world, we need to Care about what the world thinks abt us. You said u cared what world thinks only during cwg … So is india only cwg???

  17. Great Post!…thanks…:)

  18. Bhavia says:

    Wow!!!that was a mind blowing article..
    I have shared it so that more people read this..
    Well written Swathi 🙂

  19. Zaira says:

    Hi Swathi, Well written I would say. I still remember my Scotland colleague asking me about how we survive amidst the Indian forests, where tigers come out every night. I took him to google and showed him the Indian city and a lot more. How could they remain so outdated about our country, and still consider themselves as highly educated?? Confusing..
    Btw, there is one more misconcept people in our country have about the ‘US’. That people at ‘US’ dress as weird as in movies.They do occassionally, but 90% of the time they dress in the normal way.

    • Zaria,
      U serious?? They r so dumb!! Yes many ppl too think the same way about India. They think we are still the land of snake charmers even though we have reached the moon and back 🙂
      Thanx for visiting and commenting 🙂

  20. Sandy says:

    I totally loved this post. Very valid points brought out. Personally, I have no desire to be in the US of A. I always prefer to explore more of India. India is a treasure of history, art, architecture, learning, education, unity in diversity and heck…where else is so much packed into a lifetime? I love my country!
    Great post! Well done!

  21. Bryan DSouza says:

    Okay, I almost never comment on any post even though I tend to read quite a few of them everyday. Frankly because I am too lazy to put my thoughts down in writing. So in general (barring the trolls) I hold in high regard those who do take the time to comment and quite frequently initiate a intelligent discourse. But there are few things I need to say as an Indian who has been in the US for a while now. So in no particular order:

    1. I am an Indian and I am proud to be one. There is much that is good about my country. But I also realize that we have numerous shortcomings that if we brush under the carpet we will never overcome. It is fine to highlight our achievements on the world stage and even to rely on the glory of our past. But until we accept that there are things that we need to work on, and effect changes in certain spheres, we will never get to where we think we should be. So, in short, it’s okay to be critical about your own country.

    2. It is okay for the average American to misspell Gandhi’s name. He means nothing to them and so we cannot hold them to the standards that we have to hold ourselves to when referring to MKG. In fact, it is a pleasant surprise when we cross paths with someone who actually knows about him. The only exception I make to the above is for political leaders, scholars and people at certain positions. They ought to know what they are talking about.

    3. All American films do not show the country in good light. I frequently find myself watching films that portray the dark side. And when they do, they don’t hold anything back. It can get quite unsettling to say the least. In terms of freedom of expression, there are few countries that have the liberty that the America has. Creative folks here don’t fear bandhs or strikes for making a movie/creation that addresses controversial subjects. The onus is on the viewer many a times to think deeply about the topic presented and draw their conclusions.

    4. Independent life is not easy, I agree. But the system here is setup to make much of the tasks easy to do. Hence it is not all that hard either. Based on your living situation, your mileage may vary.

    5. Many of us in the US like to talk about how good/bad things are in India. But that is easy to do when we are living here thousands of miles away. The number of people who have decided to return to India with an intent to make even the smallest of changes is closer to zero than infinity. Many a times, it is just wishful thinking on our part of going back to India. I hardly ever see it happen. People get used to the life here, find it comfortable and settle for good.

    6. Americans think that the US is the greatest country in the world. And I believe that they have every right to think so. Don’t YOU think that India is the greatest country in the world? So why argue/snicker when someone makes such a claim. Let them feel proud about their country. It’s natural to do so. If they misstate a fact, then let them know the correct one. The US is without a doubt a true melting pot of the world (despite the recent trend of xenophobia). Those of us that have lived here see it everyday.

    I can ramble on…but like I said, I have said enough given my earlier announcement of being lazy. But one last thing:

    Don’t worry too much about what others are saying about India. If India is great, we don’t have to go around tooting our horn. It will be known without us preaching about it. Ignorance is ubiquitous (despite FB ;)). However, if you do get a chance to dispel ignorance, take the opportunity to educate without appearing condescending. There is much we can do to help make this world a better place. Did you know that the group “India” on kiva.org is the fifth or sixth largest group that has contributed to help small individual businesses in poor countries? Now, here’s something you can do: Go Join Them!

  22. Bryan,
    Ufff!! u made me read such a longggggg comment on a busy day!!
    Yes, I agree that every country has short comings..
    Some,like you, think,its right to have misconceptions..
    but few like me and ppl above think, we should educate people about the misconceptions.
    Its fair enough to follow what we think is RIGHT.. and thus, I followed my heart and ended up writing this post 🙂 🙂 Fair enough ??

    • Bryan DSouza says:

      Swathi, first off, thanks for reading. I know you are quite swamped these days. As for your statement about misconceptions, please read the following lines from my comment:

      Ignorance is ubiquitous (despite FB 😉 ). However, if you do get a chance to dispel ignorance, take the opportunity to educate without appearing condescending.

      Given the above, I don’t think it’s fair to conclude that I think it is right to have misconceptions. Just because you are studying, chalo maaf kiya 😉

  23. Bryan,
    I have written this post in non condescending and humble way without offending any of the party. Its an forthright post.. However,my apologies for assuming that you think its right to have misconceptions.. bahut kaam hai yahan,people are coming in,phone calls,studying,etc etc.. so dint concentrate much on your comment.. 🙂

  24. Harshita Maskara says:

    I TOTALLY AGREE WID SWATHI……..WIDOUT SUCH POST AND BLOGS MANY OF US WOULD’NT HAVE KNOWN THE FACTS……CONDECENDING OR NOT BUT EVERYONE IS ENTITLED TO SOME ENLIGHTMENT

  25. Gyanban says:

    I guess the gist of the story is not to over estimate America and underestimate India
    and vice-versa.

    • Gyanban,
      BINGO!! You’ve understood what I meant! Thanks…
      This is an answer to all the people above who accused me of false pride/past pride or glory towards India and also asking me what I am doing for India staying miles away from it..

      Its high time some people STOP pointing fingers,look at themselves first before questioning others! 🙂 🙂

  26. amar says:

    wow,

    good post…

    it would be great if there is a sequel for this one… 🙂 🙂

  27. Krishna says:

    Swathi, Thanks! This is a very good post and we can expect nothing less from you. Liked the way you have listed the points of differences in perception. We do have a lot to learn from each other, and this has been brought out well.

    IMHO India , or at least urban India, is fast becoming like the USA. The time when parents used to be looked after by children as a default setting has now changed. Right now, my elder son is in Delhi, my younger is with his Mom in Bengaluru and I am in Bahrain. On account of professional compulsions for all of us. There is much merit in allowing children to be independent, as in the US. In India, this leads to a stronger bond between parents, children and grandchildren, not to speak of avoiding the frictions resulting in DIL living with parents in law.

    Further, one of my friends informs me that Americans have now learnt how to pronounce South Indian names such as Venkataraman and Chandrashekhar perfectly, because in many companies, these people now work at a higher level, and you better get the pronunciation of your boss’s name right!

    I also must say that your responses to the comments are well composed and to the point. God Bless!

  28. kpp1991 says:

    Well conveyed Swathi. Perhaps may not be liked by many, but then this is your blog, your viewpoint, your perspective and your comprehensive conclusion of a Nation you live in now from a Nation you belonged to once. Of course you can compare the pros and cons of these two countries and debate on them. No Country can boast of a unanimous and overwhelming superiority over the other. They all are unique in their own little way. It is the mentality of the residents and migrants on either side of the nations to imbibe the goods and bads of the country and choose the goods without criticizing the other aspects. You have chosen to decipher both the goods and bads resplendent in both the countries in a pragmatic way and virtually conveyed it to readers who are interest to know.

    Thank you for that and do keep writing such insightful blogs. Certainly enlightens the reader.

  29. Bhartiya says:

    USA and gaddar Indians are the reason India is poor right now . AMericans , it’s not their land , they stole it .

    Indian black money and resources are used for the development of USA .

    USA is smart enough to sell weapons around the world and loot from Africa and ASian countries .

    USA is a weapon industry which gonna end this world with their nukes .

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