I was reading another post recently, from Brown Girl Magazine http://www.browngirlmagazine.com/2017/04/south-asian-stereotypes/ that was similar to what I’m writing now but it occurred to me that not only do strangers, but sometimes people who have known me a while also assume things because I’m from an Indian family.
So, about a month ago I was at a work conference and in the evening there was a dinner/dance and I was excited about it when I heard the theme would be ‘Bollywood’.
In my head I thought we’d moved away from the stereotypical Western thinking of what Bollywood is about, but I was wrong. It was so cringe, and as good as the dancers were the embarrassment level kicked up a notch, for me as an Indian, when we joined in to learn some ‘Bollywood moves’ (at this point I should mention I watch a lot of YouTube and Bollywood movie songs so I KNOW the moves!!), but for the purposes of painting a picture, this was Zumba in cocktail dresses (or sari in my case).
So let’s look at five myths that I can shatter for you about Indians;
- Dancing & Bollywood
No, no we do not dance with the whole ‘pet the dog, screw in a light bulb’ type dance movement. Nor do we do the snake dance (don’t think it’s been done since Sri Devi in the 1990s). This is a slight dig at the Bollywood ‘dancing’ we learnt at the dinner/dance mentioned above. So dancing and what the Western world sometimes think Bollywood is, is similar to them thinking Indians eat a korma every night.
I’ve listed some songs from the last few years that I love, they are highly energetic, coordinated and mini music videos on their own right, go check them out on the YouTube;
Kala Chasma – Baar Baar Dekho
Badtameez Dil – Yeh Deewani Hai Jawani
Balam Pichkari – Yeh Deewani Hai Jawani
Nashe Si Chadh Gayi – Befikre
Watch these and get back to me.
- Food & Spices
As Indians yes we eat a lot of ‘curry’ its dahl and sabzi if you really want to be informed. Most of the time trying to experiment with other dishes I have to ask what half the herbs and spices are because as much as you think we have a 100 spices at home, we will max have 5, if that for ANY dish we make.
When you mention you have a close wedding to attend, for example a brother or sister who is getting married, the inevitable ‘was it arranged?’ question is forthcoming.
This question is annoying, it’s the assumption that Asians haven’t moved on and that girls don’t date or go out have a drink etc. let me tell you we do! Also, even worse (possibly) is when they find out your brother has married a non-Indian girl *gasp* ‘how do your parents feel?’ What do my parents care as long as their kids are happy?
Don’t worry this isn’t be going to me preaching about what I do and don’t believe. It’s more the assumption from others that because you’re brown and from an Indian family you must believe in God or be religious. Nope, not everyone is. There are even brown atheists!
The other assumption is;
a) if they’re strangers all brown people are Muslim (I’ve had so many people just assume this of me ALL my life, not that’s there anything wrong in being Muslim, but just don’t make assumptions because that’s the only religion you know, it’s like me assuming all white people are Christian)
b) You’re a Hindu and telling people your Sikh confuses people, they’ve heard of it but it’s not as well known a religion as the others. The things they then proceed to say are ‘but you cut your hair’. Confusion overload.
- We all know each other
Actually, this is true! Ever need any detecting work done about someone or some gossip there’s an aunty somewhere who your mum can ring to find out.
I hope that was enlightening and well it was a bit of fun. I love my culture, I love sharing this with everyone and anyone (whether they wish to have me share it with them or not!). But I’m one of those that loves to learn about others, so if anyone can relate about assumptions that have been made about your culture that it would be great learn, I’ve probably been guilty of stereotyping people myself!
NB…If people are genuinely curious that’s great, but it does get tiring when people assume things about you instead of asking to educate themselves. I’ve definitely stopped trying to explain certain aspects the older I’ve got as it’s not always worth my time or energy.
Have a good day xo