Are you from India ? Something that I have been hearing so often these days! In most cases there is a certain astonishment, certain joy in the voice of the questioner, not a disdain that one might suspect. Some evenings, when my wife and I are dead tired after a long day's work we stop by at a nearby Afghan Kabob place. Simple place, a dump by american standards, but nevertheless amazing food. The lamb kabobs are worth their weight in gold. The first thing the lady at the counter asked my wife was "Are you guys from India ?". Then she said .. "I like India". We never pryed into her reasons for liking India. But I did not have to. I have heard this from so many people from so many different cultures. Flashback to 1997. One really cold evening in October, Arhaus, Denmark. My friends and I are waiting for a bus to take us from downtown Arhaus to our hotel VejlbyKro. A man standing next to us, comes closer and asks us if we are Indian. We reluctantly say "Yes". He then went on to narrate to us how he was an Afghani, who had lived in India after the civil war broke out. He studied in India and then later emigrated to Denmark. He even invited us to a party later that week and my friends who went claimed it to be a wild one. Same country, different time, probably 1998, my friend and I were stopped on the street by an elderly danish gentleman. He asked us the same question. "Are you guys from India ?". Again a reluctant "Yes". He then exclaimed "Wow, what makes you guys so intelligent ?" I was actually taken aback for a moment. But then he went on to tell us how danes always pride themselves in thinking they are a smart bunch and it was always interesting to see another culture that was outsmarting them.
At our gym, the Yoga instructor chants shlokas before and after a Yoga class. Indian classical music plays in the background and it definitely fills you with pride that an amazingly popular vedic science is being spread far and wide. Down in philadelphia, while vising an old buddy of mine, I met a west indian neighbour of his. He said "You are from India..right ?" I said "Yes." He said, "Maan, I am from the greatest cricket playing nation in the world and we share a bond". I said, you are "West Indian". He said.."Definitely." We talked about cricket for a while.
Even at the customs counters there is definitely a noticeable difference in response in seeing an Indian passport. Something that is very welcome to everyone who has travelled and been scrutinized for being Indian.
Some may find this pretty trivial and romanticising what is not really true description of all cases. Some may even think it is prejudiced and stereotyping. But hey who cares, there are some things that must be enjoyed for the sake of enjoying it. Don't think too deeply into the what, why and how. Just let it be. It is a proud moment when someone asks you this question. So just live it. Living as an expat Indian, one takes simple joys in simple events that connect you to India. Case in point, Ravi Kapoor plays Bug on Crossing Jordan. Another regular star on ER is Parminder Nagra. Hollywood probably was the last bastion left for Indians to make their presence felt. Way to go Guys !