Saturday, April 11, 2015

ARTICLE | Faces and Stereotypes: I Deal With It

By Nischal Gurung


"One of the perks of being me is having an Indian talking in an Indian language near me completely unaware that I understand it and then he ends up saying something he shouldn't say near me and then goes the awkward moment when I reply back in Hindi." 


I am a 23 year old Indian man working in the Middle East. Now when I said '23 year old Indian man', I am sure you have had a vague image of how I look like in your mind but before you go any further with your imagination, let me stop you. 


Most people around the world, and sometimes even people in India do not know that, Indian people do not have the generally stereotyped look and I kind of look like a Korean or a Chinese, but well I am Indian, and so does more than 8 millions Indians looks like me and yes there are 100% Indians and not related to anyone from China or any other Asian countries.

That's the story of my life. Because of my look, I have always been misunderstood, misinterpreted and looked upon weirdly, which makes my life strangely interesting. I work as a host in a restaurant and my job makes me deal with talking with lots of people, who come from different countries and background and this question always pops up to me everyday, 'So where are you from?'. Whenever I meet new people, get introduced to new friends in a party or I talk to client at work, they ask me, where am I from and then this frequently asked question, always end up with a long long explained answer. I generally prefer giving just a one work answer, 'India', and then goes a 10 second pause, a long stare at my face and then comes, 'No, you're not Indian', or sometimes I get a variety of weird answers. 

I get a lot of Asian people coming to me and talking to me in their native language and must say I actually have learnt to say 'No' in various Asian languages. With an outrageously large Filipino population here in the Middle East, I am often confused as a Filipino.

Well, I sometimes end up giving long explanation for how I am not Chinese or speak any other Asian languages, other than Indian and am purely Indian, and how my ancestors and forefathers have always lived in India and yes there are more than 8 millions of us looking the same as me in India. Sometimes its just not convincing enough for people to prove what I am and I find it kind of funny too, explaining all this.

Most of the time I finish explaining and they are pretty convinced I am from India, there follows up a number of brief questions. These questions are no less weird, which could be someone asking me, 'So you also like spicy curries?', or 'So you can speak English as well?'. Well, maybe they didn't realize I was speaking in English all the while. It is rather very challenging a task to explaining people for how I don't practice Kung-fu and I can speak Hindi fluently.

One of the perks of being me is having an Indian talking in an Indian language near me completely unaware that I understand it and then he ends up saying something he shouldn't say near me and then goes the awkward moment when I reply back in Hindi. 

Yes, the daily ritual of how I can speak Hindi and which country I belong to do follow up. That's my life, which gets weird everyday with extra strange and awkward situations, in a world full of stereotyped minds, being different (forgetting there are 8 millions of us) can be a challenge, which is fun and tiring at the same time.


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Nischal writes with the pen name Blaber Blogger for his blog BlaberBlogger.com on posts based on travel, lifestyle, food, internet and society. Visit his site at BlablerBlogger.com




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