From the other side

3:28 PM

Now as a foreigner in India, I heard a whole load of stereotype regarding my culture, dispensed by people who just think it is appropriate to act as if they know my world better than I do, or do not even think how insulting it is to just say “You foreigner eat only junk food and don’t know how to cook”.
Yes as a European lady I’m apparently by default dumb, barely able enough to press start on the microwave to reheat a frozen dinner, don’t keep a house clean, spend my days and nights fornicating and chasing men, disregard family, come from a cultureless world, make shit loads of money, and love divorce…sigh!
I won’t go over the fact that all this is a bunch of garbage, I think I went on about at least the food thing a million time already.
No mind you today I thought I would just share some of the stereotypes  about India I heard from people back home.


India is a land of spiritual consciousness, peace and harmony

Those thinking that are or stuck in a hippie version of India or have never been there, or at least not outside an ashram’s premises.
I wish it was all rosy, spiritual, peaceful and harmonious, love thy neighbour, do no harm…but that simply isn’t so. I’ve seen more aggressiveness, pushiness, lying, cheating, corruption than anywhere else. Expecting every Indians to be pious, devout and religious is just like thinking every Christians in Europe goes to the Sunday mass, listen to the sermon and applies it dutifully through the rest of the week.
And yes while we are on that subject, I read in a few travelogues written by foreigner how they actually justify the fact that in some ashrams only the foreigners scrub the toilets and pay an inflated price by the fact “we foreigner have more bad karma to wash away than any Indians, so that’s why we need to do the dirty work”. Sorry to burst your bubble people, but if they find a bunch of idiots convinced they will rid themselves of Karma washing communal crap why would they bother doing it themselves? But that would be admitting you’ve been taken advantage of and that is not compatible with the rosy, OM shanti OM picture of India now wouldn’t it? 
The truth is that India is just like any other country, it has it’s own culture, its own problem, and own good things. And I’ve read too many report of bomb blasts in the country in 8 years to actually call the place a peaceful and harmonious land.  

Indian cuisine is healthier because it’s mainly vegetarian

Well sure there is a lot of veggies going in one’s diet, but just because people are in majority vegetarian doesn’t mean the food is all healthy. In fact declaring all desi khana healthy by default is as inaccurate as pronouncing all continental food junk food. Indian cooking can be quite heavy in oil and fats, and I dare anyone finding something healthy about “pakode” which are nothing but batter coated vegetable bits that have been deep fried. As light and healthy as certain dishes can be, there are many oily gravy vegetable dish that can spell disaster for your waistline, another thing that has even nutritionists in the country raise the alarm is the amount of carb on one’s plate, a typical Indian dish isn’t complete with a ladle full of white rice (or a plate full in South India), a few chapati (whole wheat flat bread), and in some case naans which are made of white flour. A chicken momo (dimsum) from the North East is far better than a potato filled samosa. A breakfast of Idli and sambar int he South healtier than aloo paratha (fried flat bread stuffed with potato) in the North.
India is the world capital of diabetes and hearth disease, largely attributed to a sedentary lifestyle for urban dwellers coupled with too much fat and carbs in one’s diet.

India is a poor country, everybody lives in slums

Sigh! Sure there is a big percentage of people living below the poverty level, but saying that ALL of India is poor and lives in slum is insulting.
I’ll give you the example of my stepmom who categorised things in India, the “real India” was the land of beggars, cows crossing the street,  road side filthy markets, and rickety shanties in cities. She was actually astonished to hear that we had shopping malls, other cars than just old ambassadors, and concrete houses with tiled floor! What is a common misconception became insulting to my husband when she just dismissed our lifestyle as fake and not Indian! but then that came from a person who before I shifted to India was actually wondering how I could have met an Indian guy online as she was persuaded they didn’t have computers in the country!
So yes slums exist, yes beggars are there too, but there is also an ever increasing middle class, with a decent disposable income, and some of the richest man on the planet happen to be Indian. India is a land of sharp contrasts.

India is a country where it’s sunny and hot all year round
And yes I had that one served to me on several occasion. Sure the plains of North India are furnace hot in the Summer months (March to June or July), but they are also freaking cold in Winter, Delhi can easily reach 45-50 degrees Celsius in Summer and go down to around 7-10 degrees in winter having you fish your woolies out of the wardrobe and think twice about wanting to wash your hair in the bathroom. Bangalore is a place that is temperate most of the year with a drop in temperature in December, and a peak in April-May, it snows in the Himalayas in Winter with some high passes being open just a few months the Summer. Chennai is humid and hot most of the year, and the monsoon in Mumbai cools things down, and it pours down buckets with often days without much of an interruption in the downpour, leading to waterlogging of roads and even floods. You can’t generalise climate in this country, that would be like expecting Alaska and Florida to have the same climate in the US!


People are friendly in India
I guess that should go along the line of the spiritual stereotype really, but what does the statement above imply? That the west has no friendly people? I say you will find as many friendly people in India as you will find nasty mean ones. So I would really know where that comes from, in my good old neighbourhood in Bangalore I had both warm welcoming friendly neighbours and ignoble ones who would shout go back home we don’t want you here when I was just walking my dog.

What do you mean Indian society is conservative? What about the Kama Sutra and Bollywood.
Well you might blame that on too many invasions, the British alone weren’t too big on sexual display and too little clothing. Beside the Kama Sutra wasn’t considered an erotic book even in its time, it was an instruction manual on staying sexually healthy and living a righteous life, it was a very technical book, it wasn’t just all suggestive pictures.
Now Bollywood, where do I start? They sell dream, the same way Hollywood does, we all want to fall in love with a strong muscular righteous hero or a plastically perfect woman. We all want wealth, power, beauty and everything in between. So no women don’t dress in revealing sequins getup all the time in India, they aren’t all bold and strong, and marrying for love is still not the norm here, it happens but it’s not the societal standard.

Nobody in India eats beef
That comes from the holy cow belief, Hindus are not likely to eat beef that’s for sure, in fact many are vegetarian anyway, and you won’t find beef recipes in Hindu cuisine of India. But you will find some in the Muslim and Christian repertoire in the country, and in States with a majority of Christians you are less likely to see a dish or two on the menu of a good restaurant.
you won’t however find any beef in your burger in Mc Donald’s, but you can get a nice steak in TGI Friday’s if sticking to franchises is your thing, there are also a few continental cuisine (the real continental cuisine) restaurants having at least one beef dish, it’s often the highest priced item on the menu, but it’s there and they have it in stock. I also saw beef dishes on Chinese restaurant menus. So no while true beef isn’t a staple and commonly eaten, that doesn’t mean that NOBODY eats it. India is a secular nation, all religions are represented here and to a wide extent respected.


I’m sure there are many more, these are the ones I heard personally and remember. What are the stereotypes about India that your heard and made you smile, laugh, or shake your head and roll your eyes?

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  1. Anonymous3:42 PM

    may be she don't know about heaps of indian Black money in Swiss Banks

  2. Oh yes she probably doesn't know about that, or doesn't care to know :)

  3. Nice post. I have stumbled upon your blog and got hooked to it. Good post.

  4. Thank you I am glad you are enjoying my blog, keep reading ;-)


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