Tuesday, February 22, 2011

What's with Indians and 'foreigners'???

The other day me and my husband were enjoying 'bhel puri" and other tempting Indian snacks, when we saw an American couple come in to try some Indian food. They had been to this restaurant before too, but for lunch buffets, so this was their first time where they had to pick and chose for themselves. So, they requested for whatever best they could gauge from the descriptions. Now, the biggest question for them, when the food came in, was to decide how to eat the food. What went with what??? The owner there was kind enough to demonstrate as to what should be eaten how.

I was pretty happy to see them helped, because that is how I would want to be treated if I was in  their place. But, then the following sequence of events bothered me. The helper went out of his way, to get them extra plates, spoons and everything else. He was literally at their beck and call, whereas the policy there is that you have to get up and get everything you need yourself. So why the exception???

What I did not understand was whether it was out of kindness or this undying will, a lot of  Indians have, to please 'foreigners' (thats how they are known back in India). If it was an act of kindness, it is good to see people helping others. But, the fact that the other customers were completely ignored, showed me that it was something more than kindness.

It is amazing how history has an effect on so many things. For a long time, we knew of Western countries to be developed and thought of ourselves as underdeveloped, or in recent years, developing. So, many many years back, we thought of Westerners to be privileged and those in contact with them, automatically gained a place of importance. But, so many things have changed since then. India is leading the race for development, Indians are doing well world over and have made a name for themselves in fields of intellect, art, creativity and every other field you could think of. Then why do we still feel the need to get approved?

There have been so many times in India, when I see 'foreigners', as they are known in India, being given extra attention. I mean just this time, when I was on my way back from India, I saw some Kiwis on the airport, ready to go back home, after following their cricket team all over India. And the way they were offered free coffee and stuff just shocked me. I was almost ready to go upto the coffee vendor and ask what I had done wrong, not to deserve free coffee. But I already knew the answer.

So why do we really have that urge to impress Westerners??? If we were just making them comfortable, that would speak about our hospitality, but bending over backwards for them would just say that we are spineless.

And if it is about being foreigners being treated favorably, then we, as non-Americans would be foreigners in the USA and we are never treated with extra attention. I never see any Americans running around, to get us a cup of coffee, or to please us with their behavior. The thought itself is hilarious, to imagine Westerners feeling the need to impress us. And if you go by the dictionary meaning, we definitely are foreigners, people from a foreign land.

Then what is the difference? There is one bright possibility that Americans have gotten so used to seeing so many Indians, that they no longer consider as foreigners. But, I don't think even when there weren't many Indians here, we were given privileges. So, why can't people in India do the same? Why are we still so amused when we see Western tourists in India? It has a lot to do with history and the stereotype portrayals, I think.

India was oppressed by Western countries for a long time and even later we did not have a voice on the global map, until recently. Those conditions made us strive harder to prove to the world our capabilities. Everybody was working hard to earn a good name for their motherland and somehow, we needed the approval of the big guns, as they were known then.

What we need to accept and understand is that, it is a new era now. Everybody knows India for the great success stories and exemplary achievers. We have proven our worth globally and made the world take notice of us in a big way. Then what are we waiting for? Why are we still stuck with the age-old notions?? I say, we should shake those feelings out, and realize our worth. Being hospitable and having no self-respect are two very different things. Indians are known for their hospitality, so we should stick to that, but anything beyond that is sheer ignorance to the fact India has proved it's mettle. This fact itself is impressive and we should not be required to impress anyone else. Isn't the new age about treating everyone equally? Globalization in it's true sense will take form, when there would be no such thing as foreigners due to the high numbers of cross-overs. That is the day I look forward to, where nobody needs to impress anybody and everybody is just paid the due acknowledgment, for forwarding the cause of humanity!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Would love to hear your thoughts!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...