Jul 3, 2010

Series: This NRI Life Post:4

Note: I requested some of you to write a guest post on the topic:This NRI Life. If you are not an NRI please feel free to pick your own topic. If you are interested please feel free to contact me at nrigirl@hotmail.com I will be glad to publish your guest post in NRIGirl blog.

About the Author: SG blogs about almost everything under the sun that he comes across ... One of my favorite of his post is: "I love you" where he describes his "love at first sight". Feel free to visit his blog Shoot the breeze for a leisure reading.

Here he attempts to clarify some of the NRI myths non NRI's have... Ladies & Gentlemen! Let's welcome our guest blogger SG!
What do people in India think about NRI’s in USA?

Many people in India have stereotyped or generalized Indians living in the USA. I want to give my own personal experience regarding these generalizations. Again, I want to emphasize these are my personal experience.
Generalization: 95% of NRI’s work in restaurants as dishwashers or do petty jobs.

My Experience: This is not true. Many students work in restaurants temporarily to pay for their education while in college.

Generalization: The other 5% work very hard to satisfy some white guy…you know THE MAN.

My Experience: At my workplace, white guys work to satisfy me. At my workplace I AM THE MAN…and I am not WHITE.

Generalization: NRI’s are treated like slaves and they put up with it because of the money.

My Experience: NRI’s command the highest respect wherever they work.

Generalization: NRI’s are discriminated by white people and they put up with it.

My Experience: I have never come across discrimination in the USA. The closest that I ever came to being discriminated was during an interview I had soon after arriving to the USA. I was interviewed for a first line manager job that would involve supervising 18 clerical staff. The interviewer asked me if I have supervisory experience. I said, YES. He then asked me if I have supervised Americans before. My first reaction was to say NO. But I held back my answer and thought about it for 30 seconds (while staring at the interviewer.) Finally I broke the silence and said: Why are you asking me this question? Are Americans very difficult to supervise? The interviewer laughed out loud and then said, I am offering you this job…which I eventually accepted.
Generalization: NRI’s have lost their cultural identity

My Experience: People in India should have seen last week’s kumbabishekam at the Shiva Vishnu Temple in Livermore, California and the cultural activities associated with it. Or, they should be in Salt Lake City during Navratri celebrations. Then they will run and hide…and never think this again.

Generalization: They have no morality and always display their wealth and style.

My Experience: Buying a car or a home is a necessity in the USA. Also, while travelling and visiting India, spending a little extra money to have a comfortable vacation is not a bad idea.

Generalization: NRI’s forget about India quickly when they return home.

My Experience: They do not forget India. Most of the NRI’s regret that they can only go back to the place…but they can not go back to the time. India changes rapidly but in the NRI’s mind, India was frozen in time the day he/she left the country. They want to go back to that place…and that time.

On the other hand, there are “sellout” stories that I am aware of. This is a true story of a guy who grew up in Chennai and got his college degree from Chennai and then came to the USA for 2 years. After he returned to Chennai, his friend took him to Woodlands Restaurant in Mylapore. His friend ordered a Masala Dosa. The guy who lived in the USA for only 2 years then asked “How do I eat this?” “What is a sambar?” Yes, there are some people like that. Very, very few.


A said...

SG and NRI Girl,

Usually SG is accurate but I am not sure this time. Generalization are not correct. I don't beleive Indians think what is listed as generalization in this post...sorry. I have completely different opinion...I am traveling but if you like I can write a counter post...when I come back.

NRIGirl said...

Sure, bring it on A! It would be fun to see your point of view.

SG! I agree to your listing to some extent. In the sense I haven't heard of many of these comments that you call as "generalization" except for the "discrimination" part but not from RI's, but from NRI's as a fact rather than a myth. I haven't personally experienced it much though.

One thing I have noticed is that while we still take pride in being an Indian, many RI's start living a "modern" lifestyle neglecting the cultural aspects of India from dressing, eating to everything else that comes with living...

SG said...

Thanks for your comments A. I am not saying all the Indians think like the generalization I mentioned. In the first paragraph I had written "these are my personal experience". It means either what people in India directly asked me about me or asked me about Indians in USA.

SG said...

Thanks for your comments NRIGirl. As I replied to A, these are the comments given to me personally when I visited India before. In the tamil magazine "Ananda Vikatan", I read a joke. An old lady is taking 2 young women to the temple. A friend asked her: I heard your daughter from USA has come for a visit. Which one of the two is your daughter from USA? The old lady replied: We are on our way to the temple. The one in saree is my dauhghter from U
SA. The one in pant-shirt is my daughter living here. ha ha ha.

SG said...

A and NRIGirl,

I have to give some more explanation. Looks like A is thinking the time frame of these generalizations are in the past 10 years. That is why he is not able to agree with me. I am a little older. I heard these comments in the 80s (Before the IT revolution which brought so many Indians here. And people in India are more knowledgeable about USA now.)

A said...


Oh ok. Your generalization are probably OK if you are talking about 80s.

Obviously my narrow mind could only see what I know...not beyond it...Thanks for the corrections.

Anonymous said...

NRIGirl your post is really an eye opener for Indians who fall in Generalization category...

My Uncle and various cousins have been to America and they tell me that Indians are looked up high and Americans value them...

It is also a fact that a chunk of Indian population, specifically comprising of uneducated semi rural population, settle in countries say Canada and work there as bartender, waiter or so..But that doesn't hold true to even educated Indian...

I have seen people belonging to both set of communities and it is very easy to discriminate who belongs to which community...

Loved your post:)

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