Thursday, 7 October 2010

Just because you can!

After all that, you would think that coming back home to India would please the hell out of me. 
But it does not. The problem is not the country but the people. 

The disgust began in Sunnyvale which is so much like Indiranagar that I ought to have fallen in love with it as well, but that was impossible. 

Because in Indiranagar you do not find young Indian men sitting puffed up in their huge SUVs, BMWs and other assorted cars 
driving around with such a look of smug satisfaction that they look like they are performing for someone. No, in Indiranagar, the young men are just cramped in their small cars (even SUVs here are small) and are so hassled with all the Metro work they look like they can't wait to go home and cry on their momma's shoulders which I suspect nearly all of them do.  

Young Indian men in Sunnyvale (and nearly all of Sunnyvale is filled with young Indian men unless of course they are old and Indian) always hold their head high. Even in profile they look cocky. If they do manage to catch your eye and see that you are an Indian too, they smirk in a very unfriendly manner with a look that says, 'Look at me. Look where I am. Look at what I am wearing and what I am driving. When you go home be sure to tell everyone about me.' And they know you are an outsider because you are not sitting in your own car with an identical smug expression but are in a taxi and watching the world go by. 

But may be I wrong them. May be they are smug simply because they mastered how to drive on the wrong side of the road and follow traffic rules like actually stopping - coming-to-a-complete-halt-stop when there is a red light. May be that's all it is. 

And with that I comforted myself till I reached the San Francisco airport where I saw many small dramas unfold especially with all the Indians boarding the same flight I was, to travel back to the motherland. It's very curious the way Indians who live abroad and who are returning back home behave on flights. Performance comes naturally and inevitably. 

Even a shrug is a well-thought out gesture. 'Oh you don't have another vegetarian meal? That's okay, get me the chicken then.' Shrug. Shrug says, 'I live in America now, you get used to chicken, you know.' 

Inside the plane, their body language is not one of someone exhausted and irritated by hours of being cooped in the plane but that of showing how 'big' they are. The longer the distance they've done, the more smug and bright their demeanour. Indians who got off in Hong Kong just didn't look as smug or as bright as the Indians who continued all the way to Bangalore. The ones who were later going to Chennai needed two seats each, I'm sure. One for themselves and another for their huge ego! And I kid you not - they practically shone!

And when they speak to family, friends, co-passengers in their own tongue or in English, they are always looking around to see who is listening and accordingly brag. 

'I'm an NRI now. But so what? My son must still speak to me in Kannada, gotha (you know)?'
'Howdu, namma culture bida baradu. (Yes, we shouldn't leave our culture.) I was in the US for four years. Just getting back home. I feel I've forgotten Kannada, gotha (you know)?'

'You are going to Michigan next Fall? (It's always Fall - foreign season, you know) You passed the entrance exam?'
'Yes, she is! Rhomba (very) difficult exam, you know. You even have to study differently.'

'I went to Macau, man. For my vacation. Did you go to Macau? It's beautiful. And you are coming from? Oh US? Where do you work? Intel? Oh super cool, dude! You must always be working from America then, no? Have these nachos. They are damn good. I really like Mexican food, you know. I love Taco Bells, man. You like Taco Bells? You must be eating Taco Bells everyday, no? (Taco Bells even in the US, very unsurprisingly, stinks.) So where do you vacation, dude? Try Macau. You will like it. It is super, man, simply super.'

And just when I almost dozed off in the plane, a man walked down the aisle and shouted out to someone on the other side of the plane. 'Oye, car ka kya hua?' (What happened to the car?) You want me to drop you in my car from the airport to the city? I can. Mera arrangement sabhi hogaya. (My arrangements are all done.) i-phone, yaar, super hai, mera i-phone. (i-phone, my friend, my i-phone is super) while brandishing his silly i-phone like some sort of bloody trophy. 

It is really fatiguing to return to a country where everyday the play 'Who's bigger, better, brighter?' is waiting to unfold. 

But I'd be okay with that too if it weren't for the staring game. Indians do it just because they can! 

It is really tiresome to walk into a mall on a Sunday and have men and women alike and of all ages stare at your breasts just because they are big. 

But as a lady psychologist I met at a party before I left to the US told me, 'What do most Indians have? All the good things in life are totally out of reach for most of us. Staring is the only thing allowed to us. Is it any wonder then that we've perfected it?'

And as my breasts are definitely out of reach for all those dirty men and women in the malls on all days, never mind the Sundays; even that is, apparently, to be forgiven.

And so I've decided to entertain you with a Dolly Parton number because she knows exactly how much special/"industrial" bras (as she calls them) cost and what it feels like to be stared at just because you have big boobs and you try new looks. 

And so I give you, Dolly Parton - definitely bigger. May be better. Almost certainly brighter. Thereby proving that I'm possibly a very different sort of Indian. 

Ladies and Gentlemen, Dolly Parton Live in London performing Jolene!

P.S. Nev, if you still read my blogs, thanks for sending me the song eons ago. 


vivek said...

You are absolutely right!
I was pissed off when I landed in Canada. Every where I see there are bunch of Indians with a cocky mean look towards me. It is not that Canadians pissed me off but our Indian folks. They think they have reached Mount. Everest or conquered a mighty land. I don't get the meaning of their look. May be it is a smirk or show some sense of satisfaction that their fellow countrymen are below their standard living condition. When I was in Singapore it was a totally different scenario where Indians were extremely friendly and it resembled to me as if I was in a cleaner Chennai. Moment I landed in Texas I was getting to feel the looks of Indian folks. They consider themselves as "Western Cowboy" and attempts to talk in"Faux" buckaroos slang which doesn’t suit or fit them. I think there is a serious identity crisis among Indians who are living in North America whether they are Indians or westerners. God bless them and help them to do a soul search within themselves!
Gosh! Honestly Americans & Canadians have helped me rather than our own people in an unknown wild country. They are so courteous and kind.
I am equally intimidated like you bhumika! My "double bird"(o0o o0o) to all of those mean Indian folks out in N.American continent who thinks and believe they are some sorta King or Queen compared to other fellow country men!

Marvin Grey said...

I cant believe you are deriding Taco Bell. It gave me a lesson in life 20 years ago which I still follow. Never wear tight pants to a restaurant. Honest. I had to undo a button and learned another lesson. Tight pants don't fall off if you undo a button or two. I suppose you are not alone in deriding Taco Bell. It closed down soon after and was replaced by Nirulas.

You are still missing Indranagar? It is so disconnected, one-way, crowded, Cavery reliant and none of people we knew (I assuming both of us face this) live there. Yes, I tend to slow or stop at the house that my grandfather built and everyone sold. But the old magic, cousins, neighborhood kids are all gone.

I confess that I too stare SOMETIMES. Right now I am staring at this commercial for University of Copenhagen my cousin shared with me on FB. But I have never stared at Dolly Parton. In every role and interview, she is too in your face.

Taking note of my honesty, please be kind and think back to your trip and let me know if they served fluffy runny omelets for breakfast on the flight?

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

I know, Vivek, we non-NRIs have a difficult life when abroad. You seem to have had a terrible time. I usually lift one eyebrow. That stops most people. May be you can try it.

I am not intimated by them, they annoy me. And if it's a 29 hour flight like my return flight was, then I write a blog post about them and be merciless.

Of course, neither the Indians nor the non-Indians tried to make conversation with me through the entire 29 hours long trip. Because with my one eyebrow lift every time someone tried to get friendly, I think I did a bloody good job of intimidating them!

MG, you always have me laughing hysterically. Yes, I still miss Indiranagar. And yes, very few of the people we used to know. But still. It's beautiful. I grew up there, it will always be special.
And darling, I travelled by Cathay Pacific. Do you know what that means? Awful, simply awful food. The only thing that was yellow and runny were the fruits they gave me when I found their meal to be unpalatable. I lost a lot of weight on this trip. Cathay Pacific food and endless walking in the HK airport trying to reach your gate, man, if that doesn't make someone thin, I don't know what will.

And yet my friends tell me I'm often very in your face too. Still. Pun intended. But that's a losing battle anyway.

Mahesh said...

Have to remember to behave like a cool NRI so that I dont look uncool next time !lol...loved the piece Bhumi-hit the mail on the head as usual.

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Thank you, Mahesh. And no, really, please don't. :)

Anu said...

In London, people of "Indian heritage" try to establish superiority over lookalikes by speaking in a mediocre English public school accent (not sweet to the ear as cut glass English accent. Well, they're asking to be judged.)into a cell phone or to their coterie. This means that they have stayed in the U.K for far longer and are the authentic stuff, not someone who got here on the last Air India flight. And that proves what?

Pathetic people can't handle big breasts and/or think that if it exists, it needs to be camouflaged.

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

LOL, Anuradha. There is a reason you are the love of my life. And here it is. LOL. Cheered me up immensely.

I suspect a really close friend of mine would also like my breasts to be camouflaged and that came as a bit of a shocker recently. And you know what shockers do to me especially now that my men are not here to hear about all my self-induced crises.

But this was perfect. This cheered me up so very much.

santosh pai said...

I really liked this post . I feel Indians are silly as a race at times , all they know is comparing .Its not a problem with NRI's its there with other INdians too.

I have relatives who live in small towns and travelling in flight is like a pride for them .

They keep narrating about their flight journeys and places they have visited and it's very boring to hear their lengthy conversations about it .

I haven travelled by flight till now and ppl say "OMG , You haven travelled in flight ha ??,wat man your parents are well employed and why you haven travelled by flight ??"
I haven travelled far off places to
use flight as my mode of transport .and watever places have visited i doubt about airports in those places :P

Bhumika's Boudoir said...

Well-said, Santosh, I agree. It's sad but I had that uttered to me all the time as well - What? No passport? - amounted to 'You have no ambition!'

And then there was the have you ever travelled by a flight? Fortunately, thanks to my dad I had been to Kashmir by plane - only I was a year old then.

Now, of course, it's totally different. With the amount of time, I've spent in the skies, they come to me for flight advice.

And I'm super cool. I agree. But not because of the fact that I've been to the US of A.