Indian Beliefs or Perceptions of American and European Culture

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”

Our Beliefs and the Outside World

It is human nature, we think in terms of what we are exposed to or what are familiar with in our own surroundings. Our thinking and the way we behave is greatly influenced by how we grew up – how we were raised since early childhood.

The childhood is when most of our beliefs are formed, when we watch others and try to figure out what is the accepted norm – what is right and what is wrong. As we watch the world around us day after day, our beliefs firm up over time. We start to make our own mind and our own opinion about everything around us.

“Common sense is the collection of prejudices acquired by age eighteen.” said Albert Einstein. By the time we enter our adulthood, we already have our own beliefs about the world around us.

Just think about it:

  • Our political and social views are always influenced by the community we live in and by our own social circle. Don’t confuse this with your Face Book or Twitter network – there is a real world out there;  just look outside the window. 🙂
  • We almost always follow the same religion as our parents; our religious beliefs are greatly influenced by our family and the religious preaching while growing up.

Continue reading “Our Beliefs and the Outside World”

Common myths and misconceptions about India!

The misconceptions that American/foreigner may have about India and Indians!
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“First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.” ~Gandhi

Along with China, India’s global perception continues to improve. Today’s generation is very open-minded and has global outlook. However, while living abroad, we do get some out-of-the-blue questions about India every now and then. Here are some of the common misconceptions or myths about India:

1. Elephants in our backyards: This is one of the perceptions that elephants are everywhere in India, which is not the case. Actually, there are very few elephants to be seen, unless you venture into the remote area and jungles.

2. Everybody snake-charmer:  Again, snake charmer are not so common. The scene of a cobra dancing to the tune of a charmer is very rare; very few people make their living by putting on the snake shows.

3. The Indian Curry: Not every dish Indians eat is curry based. More and more Americans are trying and enjoying Indian food, but curry is invariably linked with India; nothing wrong with it. An Indian restaurant manager always has interesting anecdotes to share about his experiences with American customers, like this one:
“Can I have some curry samosa please” asked an American customer when the waiter came around to take order.
“How would you like it – spicy or mild” The waiter asked without reacting to the choice of entree.
“Medium”, he replied.
The waiter came back with 2 Samosas and the chutney/sauce to dip in.
I guess Indian sauce is also curry for some. 🙂 Continue reading “Common myths and misconceptions about India!”