• There are three types of people in the world, those who don't know what's happening, those who wonder what's happening and those on the streets that make things happen.

Will the real Indian please stand up!

Posted by Raunak Mahajan on October 21, 2012

No! There is no one real Indian. We put the “D” in Diverse.ย  In fact, we put the I,V,E,R,S and E as well. But its not easy being us. Every time we travel abroad, we come across stereotypes that have absolutely nothing to do with us. The first time I did, I was left wondering how in the world did they get that impression of us. And then it hit me that there are million types of us. I am an Indian, but only one type. The general characteristics which differentiate the types are region, language, looks and food. In addition to being an Indian, I belong to a particular region, I speak a particular language, I look a particular way and my food habits too categorize me into a certain type. So far so good.

But things get very irritating when a set of Indians belonging to a particular combination of the above characteristics give rise to stereotypes that are extremely embarrassing for the rest of us. For example, I do not put coconut oil in my hair nor do I shake my head when I mean to nod. Yet, I am an Indian. I do not have a heavy accent nor do I walk holding my friend’s hand. Yet, I am in Indian. I am not an IT Programmer nor a help desk executive. Yet, I am an Indian. I can be a Punjabi and not have to wear a turban. I can be a Kashmiri and yet be a Hindu.

Every wave of immigration carried with it a different type of Indian to the world. And we still have many more headed to a neighborhood near you ๐Ÿ™‚


13 Responses to “Will the real Indian please stand up!”

  1. John R Childress said

    Got it. What I meant to ask was where do you live.

    Sent from the iPad of John Childress Email: or +44 7833 493 999 UK mobile +1 781 605 8527 US mobile

    My blog:

  2. Irunsolo said

    Very insightful! I couldn’t help but think as I read your post how true that is of Americans as well, particularly to those looking in from the outside. What a beautiful thing if we could all apply your approach to our perceptions of all people. Instead of trying to lump someone into a category, look and perceive him as individual. I think we all just get lazy. Great post!

  3. I was with work colleagues who were laughing at Indians who shake their head as a no when they mean yes – until I told them I am indian and I don’t shake my head. We don’t all come in a box – labels need to be re-thought – it’s a different and diverse world.

  4. I like the idea of a world without categories and discriminations. Then again it would be sad to lose traditions/customs.

    • Raunak said

      Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts.

      I prefer a world with categories and distinct identities! However, such distinctions should not be used as a basis for discrimination.Even as an Indian, I hold on strongly to my cultural identity that I may not share with other Indians.

  5. I feel the same way about being black โ€“ I donโ€™t fall into most of the stereo types of black South Africans and a lot of people used to find it confusing.

    P.S I use coconut oil on my hair, and its my Indian friends that introduced me to it, but they donโ€™t use it though ๐Ÿ™‚

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