Friday, October 31, 2008

Misconceptions of the Malinformed Mind

S has been here since December and one of the most frequent questions he comes across from American/Non-East-Indian friends is how he gets to speak such good English! Sure, ignorance does prevail, but construing India to be a non-English speaking country is slightly unacceptable - considering the number of revenue generating working Indians and students out here. Sure, we owe them credit to this thought because a large percentage of Indians here are the world renowned GOLTIS. Now, that gives us a reason or two to understand why this misconception was born.

Golti: "Haaee. Whaat ees yuvar naam ra"
Mallu: "Halthy commooonicasion are yimbordant".

No offence meant, but most from these groups switch to their vernaculars and stick to their peers - this is the general feedback at S's workplace.

The other day when we were heading to Richmond from Atlanta, our co-passenger in the flight, Mr. Paul Woody, seemed rather amused that we spoke flawless English. He didn't seem to know where India was. He couldn't believe that we learned English in India.

P.W: "So which part of the world are you from?"
Me: "India"
P.W: "And which part..."
Me: Drawing a blank - that's when I realise he doesn't know where India is.
"It's far east... near China"
P.W: "Ahhh ok. You speak real good English, how did you learn that!"
Me: I'm tempted to say, "Well if you have the Poms ruling you for decades, it sort of rubs on you", but then I resort to "We have a real good education system in India and I'm just an average speaker. You should listen to some of the people who are mindblowing."
P.W: "So where do you work here?"
Me: "I'm not allowed on work, I'm on a dependent visa."
P.W: "What a waste of talent! With that smile and personality and the way you talk, you should be in marketing!"

Flash! S thinks he's flirting. But then, he's an old man. So we thought he was one of those MLM guys, since he was asking S way too many questions about wanting to set up his own business. Then he reaches to his briefcase, fishes out a card, and to our relief, it said Certified Public Accountant.

Then the conversation drifted to his political views, and he seemed completely enthused with us. When we finally landed at Richmond he made me meet his family that was receiving him. In Tamil, we have a friendly phrase called "Reyil Snegidam", which denotes a friendship that commences in a train journey. This is our "Flight Snegidam" :)

The next time someone gets amused with Indians who speak good English, I should probably introduce them to some Arundati Roy, Anita Desai, Shashi Tharoor, and The Hindu!

Here's to a happy, scary and eerie Halloween.


Bala said...

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm i really dont know why these people still think indians are living in jungles and making a livelyhood by hunting with their bows and arrows????? Anyway look who is talking about our english, if they cross the atlantic people from the land of the queen dont consider their english good!!!!!!!!! Ask them to watch cricket commentry and hear harsha speak!!!!!!!!!!!oh then again they may ask what is cricket!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Rums said...

I know. Some people still think that, but like I said, you can't always blame them, thanks to all the gults here! Some people jokingly say telugu is an official language here in the US :D But yeah, one dose of The Hindu should be enough proof of how eclectic our vocabulary can be :D

Tat-Tvam-Asi said...

Despite all misconstrued notions, truth is, we are bothered by the 'firangi' jaundiced opinion. Language, a mere means of communication, doesn't warrant so much importance as much as quality of work commands. But again, that's the way 'firangi's are :)

Instinctive Traveller said...

The bloke didn't know where India was? Oh, I get it, he didn't know whether India was a destination or a disease. I'm surprised at the way these people conduct themselves. So pathetically insular.

Bala said...

ell i wont be surprised if they draw a blank when they hear the name ''india''., cos i saw in one of those tv shows where a girl answered when asked where is mount everest its in the alps!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! can u believe it????????????alps????????? guess at least newzealanders will know more at least as a mark of respect to edmund hillary

Rums said...

Abhi, didn't know you blogged - kick ass awesome posts! Well, you're right, isn't that kinda why there's so many of us out here? To be honest, some of them have knowledge about India.

RDX, lol, but he was very very friendly. I guess henceforth we have to start proclaiming offense when someone doesn't know our country.

Well mom, they may not draw a blank completely, you do know that George Bush's infamous controversial cat is named India. It caused immense riots in our country, hehe. And the recent portrayal of Bush in our movies goes to say a lot.

Bala said...

hey i read in a magazine that bush did see that dasavadaram movie!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! donno if its true or just another story. ANyway yeah some of them will know a lot about india and our culturelike our friend David uncle.

Rums said...

Wow really? Hehe, he goes, "What is NaCl?" ... and in Mission Istanbul, he's even funnier! But now it's not Bushistan anymore, it's Obamastan... let's see how things go from now on.

Prahalathan said...

too much where's India Q!

Rums said...

Well, what can I say... a lot of people don't know much about us despite the fact that most of everything here is made in India, outsourced to India, or an Indian concept (yoga which is catching up like wild fire, vegetarianism, buddhism)