Continuing from my previous post on how people from other cities in India refuse to believe some common realities about Mumbai, moving one step ahead, here is a sample of misconceptions harbored by Americans about India as a whole.
They refuse to believe that multi-national food chains like McDonalds, Pizza Hut and Subway exist in all Indian cities and that most of us 21st century Indians have grown up on staple diet of same (unhealthy!) fast food as them!
They refuse to believe that we have access to English music and Hollywood movies in our homes and that most of us are as ardent fans of F.R.I.E.N.D.S. and VH1 as them.
They refuse to believe that all of us who have come here for our Masters and are in our twenties are un-married and not even thinking of getting married anytime soon. Their impression is that in India, everyone gets married by eighteen.
They refuse to believe that Indian cities have 50-floor high skyscrapers and underground metro networks. In fact, most amusing part was an American grown up in rural Blacksburg asking me if landscape in “under-developed places” like Mumbai comprises of fields and forests! I so much wanted to tell him - “Idiot, on the contrary, it’s YOU who lives in a village!”
For most Americans, India still remains an under-developed third-world nation in some obscure corner of the world. And I don’t blame them completely. Agreed that people in this part of the world are intellectually challenged but we are the one who have played a major role in creating this image of India in the Western world.
We are the ones who lap up a British movie showcasing extreme-negative image of India and proudly claim it to be “Indian” movie simply because it won the Best Picture Oscar. More than that, we have “leaders” throwing shoes and slapping fellow legislators in the House, setting public property on fire without caring a damn to the fact that these “action scenes” are telecast live on TV and makes world news, eventually strengthening India’s image of a “poor law-less country stuck in anarchy and ruled by barbaric hooligans”.
It’s high time we realize we have inflicted enough damage to India’s reputation in the world and it is going to take substantial effort to correct this (if at all someone decides to). In the meantime, the next time an American exclaims “Oh My God! You have McDonalds and Pizza Hut in India???” (heard this almost 10 times so far!), I am simply going to tell - “No man! Are you crazy? We live on a staple diet of grass and mud.”
PS: This is my first post published using Windows Live Writer that came with my Windows 7.