How to piss off a Nepali : First Elaboration

Sarthak Karki’s “in your face” article “How to piss off a Nepali” was THE read I was looking for. It’s nice to be at the reading end of an article worth spending time on.

I looked at the other “How to piss off” articles as well, and although I can say Sarthak’s writing was a well-structured piece, he would have probably elaborated it more if he was allowed to. At least here, I have the liberty to do that.
And so it begins…

(from the article)
SO YOU HAPPEN to come across this brown individual at a party or at the mall and you start making guesses about where he or she is from. The worst way you can start off your interaction is by asking them if they are from India. Not a "So...where are you from?" But a direct and confident "Are you from India??"

Well in my case, they don’t even bother questioning. They simply assume the fact that I come from India.  Conversations could start out differently but would eventually get on to the point where I would get straight up questions like, “How’s the education system in India?” or “You guys are obsessed curry in India, aren’t you?”  

I get this so often that I sometimes just “go with the flow.”
“Yeah I live in Banglore, pretty damn hot down there!” or “We don’t speak Indian in Punjab, no.”

But at times, when they do ask me where I am from, I just let them guess. And trust me, it takes some serious head scratching, tongue biting and eye twitching before they come as close as Tibet. This week, I met this French bloke who made this fantastic wild attempt after a few frustrating minutes.  He took a few thoughtful seconds, frowned and then he let out the word, “States??” while his eyes lit with excitement.

(The fact that my name sounds like “Abbas” really does not help either. No wonder I get along with muslims just fine.  I have had people asking me if I was from the UAE.)

It’s not only the students who get confused, but Profs who have travelled and experienced the culture.  I have lost count of times Profs have turned around, scanning through the crowd looking for me while talking about the holiness of the Ganges, the crowds of Mumbai or how he got robbed off his shoe while on a sightseeing trip to Delhi (heh). I simply nod or show signs of increasing apathy.

You can’t really blame them though. When Indian’s themselves can’t differentiate amongst themselves, how do you expect the others to make an accurate guess? You have to see the way they look at me while I am simply minding my business and trying to get my ass to the bus station. The whole family pauses to have a good long look from the point I walk into their “visual range” to the point I walk out of sight. It’s not only Indians living in Korea who do that, but in China and Vietnam as well. The same shit all over again. As if I have to look up at them and say “Namaste! How do you do?”

In an age where we discuss issues of being a global citizen, it is ironical that we tend to take this natural stance on our roots. But then roots are what defines us and gives us an identity. Having had to observe so many overseas Koreans go through a major identity crisis, I can only be thankful that I have, at least a place where I can truly call home.


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