#1 – Annoying Allegation

When travelling to India, you always have to mentally prepare for the deluge of ridiculous questions/allegations, statements and assumptions you will be met with as an adult who has lived abroad for over 11 years. I’m going to attempt a list and the responses I wish I could give – and would give if I didn’t really love my parents.

Annoying Allegation #1

Oh, but you are so westernised and you’ve become a Norwegian lady now.

Desired Response Lost in Chickenshit-ness

Really? What gave me away? My underwear with the Norwegian flag on it? Lady, I could spiritually be a Martian and it would still be none of your business.

And what has made me Norwegian? Do I speak my mother tongue with a trace of Norwegian accent? Or any accent at all? Do I vaunt unnecessarily over Norwegian life? Do I shrug my shoulders at the dismaying ways of fellow Indians and relentlessly diss the country of my birth? Do I complain about the roads, the water or the service in hotels and shops?

No. I take it for what it is. I can be uncritical about the things that don’t really matter and critical about those things that do. How Indian I feel has nothing to do with the colour of my passport or where it was assigned. Or whether I wear capri pants and a short top and disagree with your parochial views, while leaving my hair unoiled.  But for you, its all about appearances and streaked hair and everything that is insubstantial.

Escaping your cretinous ways is one of the greatest joys of living abroad.

See, my biggest problem is you. And the fact that you are in my face with your shallow crap. So take it to someone who’s buying.

And FYI, using deodorant doesn’t make you less Indian, but it will make you a sweeter smelling one. Give it a shot.


Filed under Indianness

34 responses to “#1 – Annoying Allegation

  1. Clap Clap clap.

    I found it funny, as kids when we use to visit our nani in rural UP., our cousins from Mumbai and Delhi had more nakra than us.
    My mom refuse to allow us to critize anything whether it was the freshly squeezed milk or the chivda or an outfit someone gave us. She always told us to stop being ungrateful.

    Then there were my metro cousins who were spoilt brats. 🙂

    And the deodrant.. I hear ya…

  2. maidinmalaysia

    no.no.no.no. it’s all changed. everyone wears deo. and everyone’s daughters wear capris.

    next allegation pl.
    p.s. your mum and my mum must have been friends?

  3. maidinmalaysia

    p.s. to sraikh that is

  4. Shal dear….when are you coming. Looking forward. Promise not to ask silly annoying questions…..but have fallen off my chair at your answer. Next allegation please….love you

  5. Rang so many bells for me, I went momentarily deaf…! And that’s one allegation.

    Have put up with this all my life, having been brought up in the Gulf, and a short spell in the US. My pet peeve…”So, which country do you like more? India or Iraq/Kuwait/America?”

    The answer I’d wake up with at 3 am…”Gawd! Any country YOU’re not in.” 🙂

    Good luck with the vacation…don’t let ’em spoilt it for ya!

  6. *Zing*!!
    Darling you are doing it all wrong. Complaining about roads, water, gloating over the phoren way of life, faking an accent will only make you more Indian. If you do none of those it is not surprising that *they* consider you too Norwegian or whateveregian.

  7. Amma

    Calm down lady. This is your nth visit to India and by now you should have ready , stock answers to all the questions. Have you thought of the snide remarks and knowing looks we had to face with one child married to a Norwegian and the other living in (sin ?) with his girl friend. Once these people know that they can’t get under your skin , they more or less leave you alone. And just think how drab your visits will be without all the gossips and family politics. Remember we are Indian “wonly” and we can live happily with all the comments and the criticisms. The critics will surely be unhappy if they can’t upset us.

  8. waditi2001

    Bravo! Clap Clap!! 🙂

  9. Amma

    Loved your comment. Our TV channels are promoters of fake accents and in the so called elite circles , you are looked down upon if you speak your mother tongue without an English accent. ( esp. true for Keralites.}. And even children born and brought up in the state are proud to say that they can’t read or write in their mother tongue.

  10. Aiyyo paavum, MGM, why you getting so preemptively annoyed. We be like this wonly.
    The people who matter love you, na.

  11. Needlessly rude post.

    Especially the last paragraph I thought, was in bad taste.

  12. Your life,your way.Why do you need to explain it..ignore it.
    Also, why this working you up so much. Your Amma sounds totally zen compared to you:-)

    PS: The deo bit is totally worth it, BTW.

  13. allrighthere

    I’m not Indian and I’ve never been there (though proud to boast quite a few awesome Indian friends), but I can so relate to the feeling of this post. Coming to visit Norway from the US I was inevitably met with : “you’re SO American now”. That was obviously not a good thing…

    The allegations make you feel like you don’t belong anymore. That’s why it irks you so much. In Norway you’re always “Indian”, but when you’re in India you’re “so Norwegian”.

  14. totally understand what you’re saying. It’s been 13 years since I left my parents place.
    Even though I live in India, this still happens with me each time I go to home! 🙂

    The words just change about a bit:
    “but you are so westernised and you’ve become so Mumbaiker / Puneri / Bangalori” depending on where I’m currently living.

    btw, Amma, you really rock!!! I’m still trying to get my Mom to learn how to switch on the comp 🙂

  15. allrighthere

    ps. I applaud you for daring to be so honest! I’ve got something to learn there. Sometimes I want to set up a “secret” blog where I can rant and rave to my heart’s content, lol!

  16. maidinmalaysia

    this is where i do my parrot imitation and ask abt amma’s blog…? pliss to start

  17. Era

    Before you go to India read your post of the seven ways that you are awesome.

    Realize that when people back home see you, they see someone with a complexity that goes beyond the usual Indian societal complexities. They are looking at someone who has experienced life in several countries and has embraced the best of each.

    Some of these allegations, rather than criticisms, may just be less than elloquent was of expressing awe, amazement, and maybe a little confusion, or just simply a way of striking up a conversation. Do most of the comments come from those who have not seen as much of the world as you?

    Here I go again. You write a funny, witty, astute observation that plays my heart strings like a violin and I start babbling on. I’ve been in so many situations where I feel like the outsider even among my “own” because I don’t conform to prescribed norms.

    At the heart of it all I believe people mean well. There are some really annoying ones though. To those people, present a nicely giftwrapped stick of deodorant with a card that reads : From your friendly Norwegian Ambassador.

  18. @Sraikh: *Bows deeply* Thank you. Shows that it really is down to the parents.

    @MiM: LOL! One and half years and I’m clueless. And as for Amma’s blog, yes , we’ll have to get on her case, won’t we?

    @Muthu: Will mail you trip details dear. And you can ask me anything. Any damn thing. My issue is with people who never crawl out of the woodwork to say anything nice, but only come with the the judgemental, nasty stuff.

    @Amma, Dipali and ILWML: Ayyo, there was seriously no real angst writing this. I wasn’t even worked up to be honest. It was mostly just very very liberating and FUN and came up during convo with the Viking.Sort of like, “Things We Want To Say But Never Do”. So no I am not annoyed.Nor do I feel any need to justify when faced with these situations normally. And of course we are like this wonly:-) Thats what we love about us, right?:-)

    @June: ROFL!! oh please please let me be a whateveregian.. sounds like a such a splendid thing to be! But I do think you might be right. And Amma agrees – and you know MiM has appointed her the oracle of this blog:-)

    @waditi 2001: Thank you:-)

    @Rada: Well, luckily everyone is entitled to their opinions:-) As for needlessly rude, the great thing about having ones own blog is having the right to determine what it needless and what is not.

    What I consider needlessly rude is that people feel that they are totally entitled to come with personal and reductive comments – and the same people never possess the grace to say anything nice. The expectation that girls must mind their place and put up and shut up when dealt such stuff is also something I find utterly needless.

    And the deo comment – maybe I should start coming with that to their face – they would if I had BO:-)

    @Allrighthere: You the nail right on the head, my friend. And if its from people who have a genuine affection for you, then you can let it slide, but when its from people who only come with jabs, then its less pleasant.

    As for the honesty, well, this was never intended to be a scathing piece really – its quite possible that I have stronger feelings about this than I thought;-)

    @Richa: Not sure I’m comforted by the fact that this seems almost universal:-( How do you deal with it? Smile, brush aside and seeth?:-)

  19. @Era: You are right, you know. A lot of people say the wierdest things, but you know they mean well and that rather than being mean, it is their awkward way of striking up a conversation and re-connecting with a person they have not met in a year or so. I have a couple of grand aunts who fall in this category, but I have nothing but affection for them because I know where I stand with them.

    This particular post was directed to those beings who never have a kind or encouraging word to say, but are always right at the front of the queue dripping acid when they get the chance to vent their own insecurities. I’m just glad they are the minority.

    And ROFL! at the Norwegian Ambassador’s gift:-)

  20. @Starry-eyed: Bingo! Any country you’re not in:-) And not to worry, it takes a whole lot more than this to spoil a vacation:-) If it was so easy, I wouldn’t be the masochist that goes down every year;-)

  21. Anj

    Dunno MGM – think about it like this..if you’d been the average mallu/indian you wouldn’t have found that statement so annoying. You’d have accepted it for the way things are over there….people are intrusive and your business is their business. It’s a truly Indian characteristic that’s all at once nice and annoying….nice because you’ll never feel ignored or alone, and annoying..well I don’t have to explain why  So it’s not just your clothes and your unoiled hair that pronounce your adoption of western ways..it is deeper than that..it’s your views on personal space, your dislike of parochial thinking…. the fact that you’re even ranting about this. So haven’t we been “westernised” in that we’ve adopted practices and thinking that are not part of our traditional makeup. And why is that a bad thing? I don’t think it has to mean that we aren’t Indian anymore or don’t have any Indian-ness left in us…it means we can straddle the two effortlessly. I’d think of it as a compliment MGM..of your adaptability..of your life without roots.:).

    I’m with Rada on that last line though..with an average of 38 degree heat, equivalent humidity and constant water shortage, I think we mallus do a great job about keeping clean and smelling good (mmm..think Cuticura )

  22. Mom Gone Mad

    @Anj: Like I said earlier, this was never intended to be a big fat rant and I’m with you on the nice and annoying Indian trait.

    Often the emotion is one of affectionate, indulgent irritation and for the most part I accept it for what it is and move on without a hair out of place, except when said person says things in an openly hostile, needling manner.

    And you’re right. Its about what people represent, they just choose to pick openly on the superifical stuff.

    As for the BO, you had me at Cuticura;-)

  23. Anj

    Hey MGM, posted my comment before I’d refreshed my window and saw your replies. See where you’re coming from ..and know the needling kind very well. Have bit tongue hard enough to draw blood on occasion 🙂

  24. MGM, I agree with Era that at times, its just an effort to strike up a conversation. Esp from people who can no longer connect with you.

    And at other times its just sooo annoying. When its intended as a snob jab: the-you-do-not-belong-here-anymore-and-i-am-better-than-you-coz-i-stayed-back kinds.
    What can u do with such people. Nothing. Just ignore them. They are not worth being annoyed with!

  25. Orange Jammies

    Your Amma rocks! Can we swap? Mothers, not countries.

  26. allrighthere

    oh – and there will be a #2 right? :amused:

  27. Totally understand! The first time I visited India after a stint abroad, everyone was commenting about how I have started dressing “western”….the funny part was that I wore the exact same clothes before I went abroad too! And after marriage, it escalated to a whole new level. Random people would search my neck for that all elusive mangal sutra, which I would have happily told I don’t wear only if they had just asked me.

    The worst part is my contemporaries in India are doing the exact same things, but somehow since I live abroad, I am supposed to be the flag bearer of Indian “culture” and everything else they can hoist on me.

  28. @Richa: Right you are. And thats normally whats done:-)

    @OJ: All yours. Free of charge. Unless MiM gets to her first of course;-)

    @Allrighthere: In due time.Maybe when I am down there. have a couple of other things I want to write about before I leave;-)

  29. Meluhhan

    Yo mammaz awesome. And you can’t win ’em all, can you? And why the hell should you?

    The deo thing, so true. Let’s face it, us humans are a smelly species who need daily baths AND deodorant to smell bearable. I really don’t care to smell some stranger’s pheromones. It’s the olfactory equivalent of TMI.

    Being perfectly happy with society, ANY society isn’t going to change squat. As your mom pointed out, ever wonder why most of our TV serials/moves depict caucasion-looking Indians with huge mansions and armies of servants, and try to pass them off as the ‘average’ Indian? Because that’s us, baby. No problems to solve here, next country please!

  30. chuchu

    yup,we mallus are wonly like that..v.v. interested in the next person,and we haven’t mastered the art of tact either,esp when confronted with a fellow-mallu with a phoren hubby and 2 gawjus kids..please expect lots more questions/comments…hopefully all/some in a spirit of goodwill:)..and please keep posting.My least fave aroma is rancid coconut oooill on damp hair!

  31. As far as I know, whenever you live in a different city or country, or build your family differently, or live a difft kinda lifestyle, your value system changes, and a few ppl back ‘home’ can’t take it that you can be and look so happy by believing and following something difft than they did. They try to feel better by rejecting and mocking ur value system. Nothing personal about it! Not even the BO!

    and I’m good at constructing long-winded never-ending sentences!!! You can take a deep breath now:)

    And your AMMA ROCKS!!!! Hi Auntie:))))

  32. Gawsh darnit, I actually visited to tell you..you’ve been awarded:) Do drop by and pick up ur award sometime:)

  33. Dottie

    they are raising eyebrows ar capris????? Everyone and their MILs wear capris these days, no?

  34. Mom Gone Mad

    @Clueless Chick: You strike a chord with the mangalsutra bit. I don’t wear one either, but get no grief after all these years. And yes, difficult to be flag bearer for something as heavy as a nation’s culture.

    @Meluhhan: Hell, who doesn’t need to shower? As for the depictions fo the average indian, you’re most definitely onto something there..

    @chuchu: Funny, my *favourite smells* have to do with coconut and coconut oil too..Coconut oil boiling with herbs tops the list and the lovely aroma the minute coconut oil hits a great fish curry along with the curry leaves – unbeatable stuff! And then theres the rancid oil smell, mixed with sweat that you mention which is a huge downer!

    @Starry eyed: Aww.. award? Another oscar speech? thanks, dear! This never gets old. Will go collect. And yes, its all mostly insecurity really.

    @Dottie: Ok. I agree and see the capris was lame. You’re right.I could even squeeze my ma into them. TO be replaced by – halternecks? percentage worn saris worn low waist? You pick;-)

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