“Would you like something to drink, sir?” the flight attendant asked with a polite yet firm voice.
“Some tea please,” he replied in a monotone voice.
“Ice tea or hot tea?”
“Oh, I mean hot tea.”
“Do you want anything in it – Milk or sugar?” The attendant inquired again as she poured the tea from a steel jug into a paper cup.
“Both – milk and sugar…”
“Is half-and-half okay?”
“No, I want only a little bit milk in my tea…”
She handed him two tiny cups of creamer, with label- ‘Mini Moo’s, half-&-half’.
“Oh, that’s what you meant by ‘half and half’…!” Before he could finish his sentence, she had already moved on to the next row of passengers.
After deboarding the plane, the passengers collected their luggage and lined up in the ‘Immigration and Customs’ section. Upon his turn, an immigration officer asked him all kinds of questions.
“When were you married?”
“Two years ago.”
“How long did your spouse stay with you in India?” His eyes glued to the computer screen as he continued the inquiry.
“Is she the one sponsoring you?”
“When was the last time she visited you?”
Finally, after a few more questions, he got ushered to a small cubicle where a white female officer with short red hair greeted him
“Welcome to Canada!” She said with a smile, shaking his hand and offering him a seat.
She told him about different facilities available for the new immigrants; she explained the job search options and how to apply for Social Insurance Number, and so on…
Finally he was guided to gather his luggage and follow the ‘Exit’ signs. Continue reading “The Tea Time”
Best English Movies based on India or with Indian Themes
There are so many English movies that come out of India every year. Some equally beautiful movies based on Indian culture originate from other parts of the globe. Here are 20 best stand-outs: 1 Gandhi (1982): This Internationally acclaimed movie needs no introduction. The film stars Ben Kingsley as Gandhi, a brilliant actor by any measure. Amongst much recognition home and abroad, the film bagged the Academy Award for Best Picture, winning eight Academy Awards in total.
2. City of Joy (1992): The social drama is based on the life of a farmer who moves to Kolkata with his family and finds out that life is nothing but simple in the city. Patrick Swayze, Om Puri, Shabana Azmi and Art Malik lead the brilliant cast. This is one of best movies that use talents from India as well as Hollywood.
3. Monsoon Wedding (2001): Directed by Mira Nair, this is romance, comedy and drama – all together – depicting the lives of NRIs and the NRI weddings. An extravagant Punjabi wedding and the family traditions are beautifully depicted throughout this movie. Naseeruddin Shah’s acting is solid once more, and plays a father who is organizing an enormous, chaotic, and very expensive wedding that involves NRI families and joint families coming together from different parts of the world.
4. A Passage to India (1984): This classic drama is one of the most memorable English film based on the Indo-British relationship and their impacts on the day-to-day life during English Rule in India. Written and directed by David Lean, the screenplay is based on the 1924 novel by E.M. Forster. The acting, the direction and the beautifully landscaped scenes equally contribute to this masterpiece. The film has won various awards included Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards. The brilliant acting comes from Judy Davis, Victor Banerjee, Peggy Ashcroft and James Fox in the key roles. Continue reading “20 Best English Movies from India – The Indian English films”
India Abroad: Indian misconceptions or perceptions of the overseas culture
The Indian misconceptions or perceptions of the the cultures abroad are closely related to our way of thinking. It is human nature, we always try to understand everything in terms of our own culture. Everything we see, everything we observe, we see it through the lenses of our own experiences. When we look at the American or the European culture, most of the time, we are just comparing it with our Indian culture, our own beliefs. Our beliefs play a major role in how we see rest of the world.
Many of you may consider this as a redundant piece of information – nothing new. Yes, you are right. It is nothing new, but it is something – we still have these misunderstandings or notions that we should remind ourselves of; it is something that may help us with self awareness and as a result, may reduce our stereotype about foreign cultures.
So take this with a grain of salt. Some of these misconceptions may sound absurd, or may sound very true – depending on your personal outlook, depending on what you believe.
Here are some of the beliefs and notions that Indians have about the Western – American or European or Australian – culture.
Not Very Religious: It is very hard to compare one religion to another. For example, in some religions you are expected to pray multiple times a day while in some others, a daily prayer might do. The fact is every religion dictates its own rituals, its own guidelines. The religion is a very predominant part of the western society. the younger generation may be a bit less religious and more spititual. If you pass by any Church in America on a Sunday morning, they are jam-packed; you won’t find a place to park.
Drug Use and Similar Vices: Where do we start, may be with some Bollywood movies depicting or comparing western culture with desi culture. :)! We may be exaggerating a bit when we say that smoking and drug use is much more common in the Western countries. If you walk down the street of any major US city, you won’t find many smokers in public, just as an example. People are more health conscious now-a-days. The drug use is probably comparable to India. You are not going to find ganja smoking hippies (as shown in some Indian movies) on a corner of every American or European city streets. That was 70s, and the movie was ‘Purab or Paschim’! Continue reading “Indian Beliefs or Perceptions of American and European Culture”
The NRIs and Indians Abroad are a valuable asset for building India!
The ‘Brain drain’ is common among developing countries, India is no exception. Young, ambitious and educated class of society leaving homeland and heading abroad, searching for a better future, a better tomorrow.
For decades, the woes of brain drain from India to the developed countries have been blamed on many problems at home, including education system and the job opportunities. Patriotism and loyalty to the mother-land is often quoted as the lacking character among the youths settled abroad, who turn their back on the country that raised them, provided for them and educated them.
In spite of all this so called ‘brain drain’ for so long, however, there is no shortage of brain in India. The country is emerging as a fast developing nation, with GDP growth rate that western countries can only imagine….and admire from a distance. Actually there has to be some extra ‘brain power’ in India that is leading a populous country with more than a billion heads on a path of inventions, modernization and prosperity.
Every good thing must comes to and end, or slow down. With recession and high unemployment in America – and rest of the developed world – many Indians living overseas are considering going back home. Some of the key incentives to stay abroad – job security and financial opportunities – have faded over the years. Thousands of NRIs – frustrated with the grim job outlook, – have packed up their American luggage and headed home for good. Many more are expected to follow the suit.
NRIs’ Things To Do:
Have a cup of tea, make the tea
Watch a Bollywood movie
Update Facebook status
Check cricket score, and comment on it on FB
Buy mangoes – Indian mangoes
Order carry-out food from Indian restaurant
Check out the special sales fliers
Garden the flowers and vegetables
Google search ‘NRI Marriages’
Update Shadi.com profile
Shop for cheaper phone service to India
Call your spouse in India
Buy Samosa and chaat to make ‘Curry Samosa’ 🙂
Check stock market
Download desi music
Google search ‘how to lose your accent’
Plan a week-end party Continue reading “NRIs’ random ‘things-to-do’ for the day!”
Shahrukh Khan goes through additional questioning at USA Customs and Immigration
Shahrukh Khan (SRK), the iconic Indian Movie Star and the king of Bollywood, was subject of additional inspection and questioning by the immigration officers at the Newark airport, New Jersey. He was en route to Chicago to attend an event related to Indian Independence day celebrations.
SRK claims that he was singled out due to his Muslim last name – Khan. He added that the immigration officer was not convinced with any of his explanation about the trip.
The US Immigration and Customs office denies that his last name had anything to do with the additional questioning; he was stopped due to missing baggage. As per the statement from the Customs, everything was done professionally and by the book. It is common for a customs officer to ask someone to step aside for additional inspection if they are not satisfied with the interview.
It is ironic that SRK was in USA earlier this year shooting a Hindi movie titled ‘ My name is Khan’. The film is about the experiences of a Muslim in America.
Another remote possibility is that it was all planned by SRK; a thought that I could not resist.Considering how good an actor he is, he may have staged the whole drama. This incident turned out to be a very good publicity for him and his upcoming movie. Everybody is now talking about ‘My Name is Khan’ all of a sudden, which will be released worldwide soon. Continue reading “SRK, “My Name is Khan”…umm… too bad!”
There is no simple recipe to get rid of India’s corruption. The corruption and power abuse system is as old as the country itself. Corruption is part of India; it is a way life, fully integrated into the culture. We eat and breathe corruption.
Everyone knows that corruption is one of the biggest issues that India needs to tackle to progress and prosper. The government or the legal system cannot abolish corruption; a full public involvement needs to be on the forefront. If we dissect the cancerous disease of corruption, following are the starting points to tackle this beast:
1. A grass-root movement to change the culture: Everyone knows that corruption is a problem; we all complain about it. And yet, we are all a part of it. To make an impact, the public need to resist the culture of corruption. Just like there a non-violence campaign towards freedom, a no-corruption grass root movement is required.
2. A top-down system to regulate laws and discourage corruption: While public involvement is a must, the laws and regulations against corruption need to be in-place and in-practice. There has to be a more visible and more vocal message from the government to abolish systematic corruption in the government structure.
3. Empower middle class: As middle class grows and become more opulent, the average person becomes more effective in the society. If we can empower middle class, the rich and poor gap will start to diminish, a gap that is directly responsible for resources imbalance and corruption. Continue reading “2020: Corruption free India!”
What counts in making a happy marriage is not so much how compatible you are, but how you deal with incompatibility. ~ Leo Tolstoy
The love-marriage in India goes beyond the age-old love stories portrayed in the black-and-white Bollywood movies. Some of the earliest scriptures (Rig Veda), books (KamaSutra) and stories prove the fact that the love-marriage has never been a foreign concept for India.
However, these love flings are have been discouraged in the Indian society due to many reasons:
Very protective style of parenting- especially for girls,
Social stigma against pre-marital relations
Love affair are always looked down by the elders.
Cast restrictions and wedding rules don’t go well with love marriages
However, the things have been changing for a while now. The society is becoming more and more tolerant with time. The love marriage is no longer a taboo in Indian society, especially among younger generation. The pre-marital relations are growing into a fashion in big cities, perhaps a statement of progressive thinking.
In fact, the semi-arranged marriages have been evolving more and more into love marriages. While the families try their best to stick with traditional wedding, including controlling the bride/groom selection, the new crop is quickly walking towards the western style of relations.
The semi arranged and love marriages have become a part of Indian culture and customs, just like arranged marriages were in old day. The society as a whole has come a long way to accept the natural evolution. Many social factors have facilitated the acceptance of love marriage very quickly, including:
Independent thinking and open-mindedness among today’s youth,
The exposure to western culture,
Hollywood movies’ wide-spread influence in India
Desi flicks from Bollywood that always have tumultuous romance stories with happy endings,
More and more acceptance of inter-class weddings by the older generation,
Who would you hire from Bollywood for your wedding party?
Have money?… Looking for the knockout punch at your party?….
Well, look towards Bollywood.
Everything has a price, they say. For the right price, you can get almost anything.
So, what is the price for the Baadshah of Bollywood Shahrukh Khan to dance at your party? How about Rs 3 Crores to start with. Shahrukh Khan agreed to put up a show at the wedding of real estate giant Kanti Govani’s nephew for this large sum of money.
Who would you hire for your party?
From yesterday’s stars the stand-outs are:
Amitabh Bachhan:- I won’t mind watching him perform to the tune of ‘Pag Ghungroo bandh Meera Naachi thi..’ from Namak Halaal.
Helen: The queen of dance numbers..’Mehbooba Mehbooba…’ from Sholay is a heartthrob of many!
Hema Malini: The ‘dream girl’, a trained classical dancer….
She first met him in the English class in 1994. Not sure what it was, but there was something about him that made her skip a heartbeat. May be it was that young foolish age of daydreaming, but she unconsciously started to include him into her dreams……
Eventually, they became friends, good friends. No family members knew about him except her nosy aunt. Luckily for her, the aunt loved to be a matchmaker, and she took it from there on….
The families from both sides were very pleased with the aunt for ‘finding’ them a great match….The rest is history.. This is the semi-arranged marriage…
The change is a part of the slow but ever-progressing ways of life. Based on the demands of the time, the culture and customs evolve; the traditions change. Similarly with time, the marriage concept has become much more relaxed and less rigid. The new way of life and modern thinking have naturally affected the way marriages are initiated. There is more transparency between the families and the potential couples; the restrictions of old days are fading – slowly but steadily. Continue reading “The semi-arranged Marriages!”
It was early 1948; he had barely settled in the new India after the 1947 partition, after the independence from British Empire. Uprooted from a village near Gujranwala, he had made the treacherous journey with his parents and 8 siblings, traveling from Pakistan to the Indian part of newly partitioned Punjab. He was eighteen.
New place, new life, starting allover from nothing but they were not alone; that was the story of almost every household in Punjab back then.
The family desperately wanted to forget the ugly days of recent past; they wanted some happy occasion to replace their nightmares of last many years. What could be better than the songs and dances of Punjabi marriage; after-all, he was turning nineteen soon!
So, it was decided. There were already offers from would-be brides’ parents. The family started to plan and prepare for this upcoming special occasion – his wedding.
The bride was selected based on the matchmaker’s suggestions; the lucky day finalized based on the recommendation from a psychic palm-reader.
The day came, one fine spring day. He decorated his bullock carts and headed over to a small village a few miles away… to get married. His company included his father, mostly male family members and many male friends.
The wedding ceremony – the religious rite – was arranged at the bride’s home. The afternoon feast was hosted in a haveli – an open air living area enclosed with tall walls and a few mud rooms….
By the late afternoon, the groom and his company were heading back to his village, this time two more passengers on his cart – his newly acquired wife and her family’s maid. During the entire wedding ceremony and the ride back to her new home, she had her face covered with an expensive hand-made shawl that was a part of the dowry she brought with her. He had not seen her face so far but his secret investigation through common family friends and the matchmaker had confirmed that she was very pretty.
NRI Tips: The habits that hinder our adaptation abroad
“Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.” ~ Maria Robinson
Migration from India to a foreign land is often considered a grueling process, probably one of the hardest thing ever for a new NRI; right?
Not really, it is just the start :). Once we get to our new destination abroad, -USA or Canada or England…- the things are not as we imagined. As mentioned before in NRIs and India diaspora – the key challenges abroad!’, the most difficult part is adjusting to the new society, the new culture; and then building a career that matches our professional background and education.
Why is it that so many of Indians find it so hard to adjust abroad? Even after years, we feel strangers in the land that is dubbed a ‘melting pot’ of multi-culture society.
One of the key reasons for our failure to adjust, even after years, is the isolation from the American society and western culture; our inability to adapt to the local language and norms. Many of us find it hard to carry on a real conversation with locals; the conversation that involves local slang and local style.
Here are some of the main reasons that hinder a desi immigrant from being a ‘Roman while in Rome’; the key habits that won’t let us adapt to overseas’ life:
1. Self isolation:This is a natural tendency of early days in foreign land that becomes a habit, a habit of hiding from everybody and everything that is not India; living in an Indian bubble. If our social circle and desi passé speak no English,- not the kind they speak on the street anyways- there is very little hope for a quick adaptation to the new place. Continue reading “NRI Tips: Key hurdles to overseas adaptation and adjustment!”
A choice between comfort of overseas and home country
“No matter under what circumstances you leave it, home does not cease to be home. No matter how you lived there-well or poorly.” ~ Joseph Brodsky
Non Resident Indians (NRIs), the expatriates from India are scattered all over the globe. They are living a prosperous life, at least so it seems. These NRIs are happily settled in these adopted countries, but often frequent their homeland – India, to visit their friends, families and the memories they have left behind. In most of the cases, the NRIs are citizens or permanent residents of these countries; however, they consider India as their true home.
Most of these overseas Indians or NRIs are well settled in the new country. The new culture, the new life and the new comforts have created a strong bond to the new land. Majority of these NRIs help their loved ones to migrate as well; so the whole family unit ends up living abroad.
Even though the ties with the past remain; the family, – especially the younger generation – has a strong attachment to the Western lifestyle. This is the natural influence of local culture and social settings; the natural effect of the long term exposure to the western society. Continue reading “The NRI dilemma: This country or that home?”