I am not my country even though I am – 2


Remember how I blogged about how people stereotype people from a certain country and force you into boxes, previously here? Well, this week it happened to me. We have a new person in our office and this is how my conversations with her went.

1

She – “I used to work in HSBC.  I was making cold calls  to many clients in India for sales. I have never been to India nor do I know any Indians but I know about India from talking to these clients.”

–  How is it that people have lived in a country with so many foreigners and Indians in particular and still have never interacted with any Indian until now? 

2

Me – “What is your comment on this issue in your country?”

She – “No, we do not have that problem.”

– That is a blatant denial of certain key problems in your country. When, you can start criticizing other people’s countries, when you have just met them, I think you must be willing to look at the issues in your country as well critically. I encounter this attitude pretty often – my culture is superior  to yours because ……. and you have those problems in India.

3

She – “Why India is so conservative? My clients told me  ……….”

Me – “Yes, patriarchy is an issue in India but the particular issue you point out is present among east Asians too. East Asian women may have it better but that does not mean the issue you refer to  is absent completely.”

She – “No, we do not have any such issues like that.”

4

Me – “Well, you cannot generalize. Everybody is not like that. It is much more complicated than that. India is very heterogeneous.”

She – “No, your family will be like that. My clients told me.”

– My getting very very irritated point. You do not know me. You do not know my family. You cannot tell me how people I know will be with certainty from what you gleaned from few sales conversations over the phone. AND you met me today.

5

She – “Do you know Indian language A or Indian language B? Where are you from?”

Me – “I know both.”

She – “That is not possible. You cannot know both. My clients told me it is difficult to know more than 1 Indian language.”

Me –  *WTF moment* “Can you stop generalizing Indians.”

Looks like I am quick to get irritated [which I am] but I am running short on patience with such people considering how many of such ignorant people I run into, regularly. I am okay when people ask open questions but I dislike it when people insist this is how things and people are in a country, when they have never ever set foot on it. For East Asians, nationality and race seem to define a large part of who they are and many don’t bother developing their other identities. Thus, they often find it difficult to go beyond other people’s national identities.

Note – Okay, sounds like I am stereotyping, but this attitude  is quite common and I am always watching out and checking if they do not fit into this.

I am Indian. So what? I am so many other things too, so get over it. I don’t see it as an issue and do not bring that up every single time. Why is it so difficult to get to know me as a person, instead of trying to always define me by my nationality?

6 thoughts on “I am not my country even though I am – 2

  1. OMG this lady is such a jerk! She pretends like she knows it all, but she knows nothing! I would have had a fit !!!!LOL. She talks to Indians on the phone really means she knows nothing!
    To BEGIN to know Indian culture, you must go to India, and be friends with tons of Indians – and even then – that’s a miniscule percent of a diverse country!

  2. Hardly anybody around today who has the guts to accept all the social problems their country has and treat people from other countries with an open mind without stereotyping them. Sad but true state of affairs of the world today.

    1. True. In fact, I am okay with stereotyping, that’s how we place things in categories and make sense of them. Stereotypes exist for a reason. In fact, I have so many stereotypes in my head as well. What I dislike is, not being able to go beyond one’s view and prejudices, & insisting that I must be like this because they have this stereotype of me.

  3. Some people think that just because a certain problem is not there in their family or social circle, it doesn’t exist in the nation.. Like patriarchy or rapes.. many people say that it happens only in poor or only in affluent people.. They are blinded by their limits and choose not to see things that are in plain sight.

    1. Add to that the Asian face-saving behaviour. Like peopleclaiming Mallika sherawat spoilt India’s name abroad by clarifying about problems of women in India. This is very very commong among East Asians too. They will deny and claim that problem does not exist to a foreigner but will talk among themselves about the problem. SOmetihng like why wash dirty linen in public and maintain your race’s/nation’s honour

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