Expect these Indian Stereotypes in London

March 2, 2014
Expect these Indian Stereotypes in London

pink pangea foreign correspondentLondon is a global mishmash of different cultures and nations. The closest I have come to seeing so much diversity is only on the world map. So it’s common here to see a Polish doctor, an Indian techie, an Italian chef, a Chinese masseuse and the likes.

With this sheer assortment, it’s natural that a few stereotypes have been formed about each ethnic group. In my three months here, I have been subject to quite a few myself. There are a few conversations that have made me experience déjà vu more than ever before. Here are a few standard lines I have heard from 80 percent of the people I have met (the other 20 percent are Indians). While some are stereotypes aimed at my desi-ness, others are just curious inquisitions from well-wishing, good people.

Expect these Indian Stereotypes in London

“I want to taste your cooking!”

It swells my heart with pride that curries are the “thing” for Brit food lovers. Frankly, I see it here more than back home. But to expect me to whip out hot and spicy curries just because I am an Indian girl gets a little overwhelming. I mean, come on, I have just about started to cook, let alone already know how to make yummy Indian delicacies. But everyone I meet seems to assume it’s mandatory for every Indian to know the culinary art of curry making. Thank goodness for the recipes and spices my mother and mother-in-law sent me. It’s about time that I learn to make some!

“You speak such good English!”

I look at this statement as more of an insult than a compliment. I mean, you can say my vocabulary is good – not that it is – but at least that gives out feelers of admiration. Why am I not supposed to know English? One person went to the extent of telling me that it was stunning that I had picked up “such amazing English” within two months of coming here. My husband explained, after all my scuffing, that a lot of immigrants (Asians, Italians, French, etc.) don’t speak English very well and this thinking can be misconstrued and applied as a generalization. Now I just smile and nod on the outside and cringe on the inside.

“I want to ride an elephant when I come to India!”

I just want to see the jaws drop when they find out that you scarcely see elephants on the roads in India. As a matter of fact, I have never ever sat on one. It’s like expecting horse carriages to draw women to England. These days, you can’t really sit on an animal and parade around without getting into some trouble with the activists. Maybe I can lure them to make do with a ride on the more humble three-tier rickshaw.

Expect these Indian Stereotypes in London.

“Open it and see if you like it!”

Don’t get ideas, love. I am talking about gifts and no other kind of package. Well, this is a little jittery jag situation for me, being used to a culture where when someone gives you a gift, you then put it aside and open it after everyone leaves. Here, on the other hand, one is expected to open the present as soon as she receives it and react. Often, I smile even before opening the gift, lest my feelings are given away. I am happy at most times though – after all, any gift is a good gift.

“You are lucky to have found true love.”

This is a very kind and nice thing to say, and I do feel incredibly lucky to have found love. A lot of the single people I have met here seem to feel a void in their lives and tell me how it’s hard to come across a genuine person who wants a serious relationship. This is something I have experienced myself in the past and feel the connection over this sense of impatience to find a true and loving partner. Good luck to all my single friends!

All in all, I find that almost all of the people I’ve met in London have been friendly and very pleasant to make conversation with – especially over a pot of nice, steaming curry!


Expect these Indian Stereotypes in London photos by Pixabay.

About Shambhavi Pai

Shambhavi Pai is a marketing professional turned editor and writer who has now moved from the sunny comfort of homeland Mumbai to London for love. Follow her on Twitter at @theindietrotter.

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