Next stop, insanity

Monday, August 14, 2006

I plead guilty of living in the US

Last time I was in India, I went to visit a long lost friend. When I arrived at his place, on agreed upon time - like an idiot, he was not home. His dad assured me that he would return soon and insisted that I waited.

My friend's father, Mr. T, was an interesting guy, interesting being an euphemism for creepy. There was no end to his questions. He seemed to have an ax to grind against Indians living in the US too. He didn't sound like an average curious George, he sounded more like a lawyer arguing for my death sentence.

Mr. T: Where do you live?
I stated my name and address for the record.

Several questions followed that reiterated the accusations against me.
Mr. T: How long have you been living in the US?
Mr. T: Do you own a house? How much did it cost? Oh my god, for that price you can buy two houses in India.
Mr. T: Which company do you work for? Do you they have a branch in India? Oh, they will, soon.
Mr. T: How frequently do you visit India?

After it was established, beyond reasonable doubt, that I had been happy living in the US, he continued scornfully.

Mr. T: What platform do you work on?

These days, everybody in India, including retired Math teachers, know everything about software. Not to worry, I have prepared answers for these questions.

Me: I don't have a specific platform. My strength is in adapting to various platforms.

That answer worked well in job interviews. But he looked at me like I was retarded. He proceeded, speaking very slowly.

Mr. T: What language do you use?

My answer would've started with "Language is just a tool," but I knew Mr. T would interpret it as "I don't know any software languages. I am a complete moron." So went with an answer he could appreciate.

Me: I use C

Mr. T smirked like a lawyer would when the opponent's witness makes a blunder.

Mr. T: You use C? In this advanced age, even people in India are using modern languages like Java, Oracle and Cisco. You are living in America and still using C?

I didn't know which part to correct first. But I knew any attempt to enlighten him would be futile.

Me: Yeah, I never learnt Cisco.

At this point, Mr. T decided to stop beating around the bush and determine my worth.

Mr. T: How much do you make?

A question that is not considered too personal in India. If one evades the question, it would be assumed that one has pathetically low income. I gave him some vague number.

Mr. T: Do you get housing allowance? Vehicle allowance?

After I confessed I didn't even know that they were, his Math-teacher-brain worked like a super computer. He took my salary, compensated for inflation, dollar value fluctuation, housing market downturn and draught in Ethiopia. He arrived at an arbitrary adjusted net salary.

Mr. T: My cousin's brother-in-law's son, who works in Bangalore, makes gazillion rupees. Considering his house and car loan allowances, he is making almost as much as you make. So what is the point in your living in the US?

He rested his case.

My friend arrived and bailed me out before I could make an opening statement. I don't know how he interpreted my lunging to hug him and saying, "Man, you have no idea how glad I am to see you."


  • That was great- adjusting for draught in Ethiopia :P I have seen examples like this.

    On the other hand, I had once privilege of having a senior Gujju lady for nine hours as my neighbour in the flight. She seemed to find Indians as something less and those living in Europeans lesser. All the time she narrated tales of her daughter in USA. Funny thing, she gladly, and without being asked, gave the figure her daughter was making in US but in INR !! everything else was in dollars. I guess that lady and your friend's dad will make nice company.

    By Blogger greensatya, at Mon Aug 14, 04:14:00 AM 2006  

  • yeah.....asking one's salary is not that personal here in india. U must've been really glad when ur frnd came n rescued u:) LOL.

    By Blogger harshavardhan reddy, at Mon Aug 14, 04:59:00 AM 2006  

  • Hahaha... I know the feeling. Once when I went back home, my uncle came up to me and asked me if I knew how to use a broom. People get the wrong idea of people in the US. They think we're spoilt brats and can't figure things out on our own, even if we tried. Oh well, if you can't change their opinions, work with it.

    By Blogger video, at Mon Aug 14, 06:48:00 AM 2006  

  • Nicely written

    By Blogger Shreemoyee, at Mon Aug 14, 09:48:00 AM 2006  

  • You indeed a have a very good sense of humor.Once I came through same kind of person who started ridiculing me about the social emptiness and loosing that sense altogether if I live for a long time in the U.S.
    I didn't have any answer!

    By Blogger SM, at Mon Aug 14, 10:41:00 AM 2006  

  • ah, the uncomfortablness of being alone in a room with a parent. No matter how old I get, it's always uncomfortable.

    By Blogger Party Girl, at Mon Aug 14, 10:42:00 AM 2006  

  • Your post brought back a lot of old memories. I have been in this situation a lot of times. One guy actually lectured me about why it is not safe for woman to live alone in the US and why I should get married :)

    By Blogger Bindu, at Mon Aug 14, 11:17:00 AM 2006  

  • You are not alone!!!!

    By Blogger priya, at Mon Aug 14, 11:46:00 AM 2006  

  • Where do these people come from?!
    Sour grapes complex?I am always right complex?This is NUTS
    Maybe you could plead 'guilty of enjoying living in the US'

    By Blogger La vida Loca, at Mon Aug 14, 01:25:00 PM 2006  

  • forgot to add... is money the ONLY thing in life?

    By Blogger La vida Loca, at Mon Aug 14, 01:26:00 PM 2006  

  • i got accused of being a CIA spy once by a very embittered random guy because I studied in the US...
    The other very enigmatic comment I got after a bus ride was, "I know what you are" from yet another random uncle sitting behind me... I think I was having a conversation about studying in the US with my neighbour.
    I think there's a generation of uncles out there who think that USA was responsible for their personal issues.

    By Blogger Mosilager, at Mon Aug 14, 04:46:00 PM 2006  

  • I totally understand your plight.. some elders are like that, I have had such experiences too where I ended up with headaches making me wonder if I had an instant brain tumor or something like that.. well written..

    By Blogger Sush, at Mon Aug 14, 06:47:00 PM 2006  

  • greensatya:
    It is hilarious that she gives her daughter's salary in INR. And yes, it will be so amusing to see that lady and my friend's dad talk to each other. I did see peopel like this lady though. People who can't stop talking about their kids. I think I need to do a post on that

    harshavardhan reddy:
    I never felt so happy seeing that freind before :)

    That is true. People told me things like, "Life is too easy in the US," as if I committed some crime.


    Thank you for the compliment :) That is another thing people seem to think about US, that people in the US have no emotional attachment to anything.

    Party Girl:
    Welcome to my blog. Yep, I have been through many such uncomfortable situations.

    haha. I think telling single people that they should get married happens irrespective of gender I guess. Peopel are just jealous of single people ;)

    :) I wish I was not alone in that room with him

    La Vida Loca:
    I have seen a lot of people who take personal offense if I say I like living in the US. I think they for some reason assume that I think India is a bad place to live and that I think they are pathetic for living in that country.

    And people also seem to think US is all about money and nothing else.

    Haha. I wish it's only uncles who say these things. I had old friend calling me a traitor :(

    LOL@instant brain tumor. Looks like you went through many of them too :)

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Mon Aug 14, 08:03:00 PM 2006  

  • Oh don't I know what you're talking about! My mother behaved like this for each of the 5 years I lived in the U.S. and now that her beloved daughter is safely home and away from Evil Capitalist And Other Alluring Clutches, her tirade has vanished!
    Hoo boy. Not fun.

    By Anonymous Dilnavaz, at Mon Aug 14, 08:48:00 PM 2006  

  • hahah!
    Reminds me almost of my interview with my dad-in-law when I met him for the first time..hahah!

    By Blogger Anand, at Mon Aug 14, 09:11:00 PM 2006  

  • Ooooh Boy!

    By Blogger Perspective Inc., at Mon Aug 14, 10:41:00 PM 2006  

  • "So what is the point in your living in the US?" -

    How about, "I don't get asked what my yearly income is by complete strangers". You handled it much better than I would have :)

    By Blogger Liz, at Mon Aug 14, 11:15:00 PM 2006  

  • Like Liz has said,
    "So what is the point in your living in the US?" - how about, I can stay away from silly old men who torment young people like an african bee?

    I don't know if you wanted to be polite, but people like him have to be snubbed then and there. At least you might have save another friend of your friend's.

    By Blogger Suresh, at Tue Aug 15, 06:32:00 AM 2006  

  • lol...
    look at the bright side....ur married status spares u a whole lot of grilling :p

    p.s. u have been tagged... :)

    By Anonymous nithya, at Tue Aug 15, 06:55:00 AM 2006  

  • Funny but true. I think everyone goes through the same questions no matter where you go. they dont think its to impersonal to ask some one how much they make?and what job they do, do you rent or own a home etc.

    Check my blog cuz you have been tagged.

    By Blogger starry nights, at Tue Aug 15, 01:10:00 PM 2006  

  • Dilnavaz:
    It's not easy hearing about it from your mom :) Anyway, looks like order has been restored after you returned home.

    LOL. Now, if it is your dad-in-law thign would be a whole lot different.

    Perspective Inc:
    :) Ya, that's exactly what I think of him if I think of him now

    You are right, these kinds of people need to be put back in their place. One, it's difficult to do it when actually in the situation. Two, I have a big problem with confrontation.

    "ur married status spares u a whole lot of grilling"
    I will wait until you get married for you to take it back. There is a whole different kind of grilling once you get married.

    Saw the tag and will oblige

    starry nights:
    Ya, nothing is too personal in India, including "Why don't you have children yet, are you trying not to have?" I think if I lived in India, I would've gotten used to it.

    That's a neat tad. I will do it soon

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Tue Aug 15, 05:52:00 PM 2006  

  • hahah!
    Well looks like u were the criminal who was being tested in dare u leave india and settle in the US....ur sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in India!

    By Blogger Ekta, at Tue Aug 15, 06:03:00 PM 2006  

  • Ha, hah! This was funny! If you weren't already married, one would think he was scoping you out for his daughter, or something!

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Have a great day!


    By Blogger Scrapnqueen, at Tue Aug 15, 07:31:00 PM 2006  

  • Im speechless, you live in the Us dont know Cisco and dont even get housing allowance. What in fucks name??
    Your life sucks, now go sulk in that corner.

    By Blogger jhantu, at Tue Aug 15, 07:57:00 PM 2006  

  • Actually, you know.. he may be right about the earning part.. but the cultural shock is quite something for you..

    however, being an incorrigible Indian, I do see his point, and well, you handled it AWFULLY WELL!

    By Blogger How do we know, at Wed Aug 16, 01:05:00 AM 2006  

  • Hmmm, he has some valid points y;know ;)

    By Blogger Mr. J, at Wed Aug 16, 05:58:00 AM 2006  

  • Yeah sometimes ppl can get on ur nerves! Any help that comes @ such times is life-saving!

    "Me: I don't have a specific platform. My strength is in adapting to various platforms."

    This was a wonderful reply

    Are you taking the tag? Am keeping track of ppl doing so ... that way I can leave an evil laugh reading their answers to Qt. 7


    By Blogger Arti Honrao, at Wed Aug 16, 12:17:00 PM 2006  

  • chee in evil capitalist country and polluting young minds and not even getting car loans!!! What is this I say???!!!!

    By Blogger freespirit, at Thu Aug 17, 12:10:00 AM 2006  

  • ekta:
    haha. imprisionment will probably be ok. I won't have to meet these kinds of freaks at least :)

    Wouldn't that be wonderful! Marrying that guys daughter. I can hear his lecture everyday :)

    I am thinking of strating a Cisco language course in India :)

    how do we know:
    Thanks :) It shouldn't have been too much of a cultural shock because I did grow with those kinds of people around. I just didn't expect him to corner me like that!

    Hmmm. How much do you make? ;)

    arti honrao:
    That is an actual reply I use in job interviews some times when I didn't work on the platform the job requires ;)

    "I say" ROFL. Why do our elders have to end each line with "I say" :)

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Thu Aug 17, 12:47:00 AM 2006  

  • Man.. tht was interesting.. No wonder u were askin me about "right direction"

    By Blogger Apy, at Thu Aug 17, 03:14:00 AM 2006  

  • awesome post dude, awesome!
    more such stuff requested

    By Blogger PSV, at Thu Aug 17, 09:14:00 AM 2006  

  • Great Post! Thats very true every inch of whatever you''ve said happens almost everywhere in India. What a Pity!

    By Blogger indianangel, at Fri Aug 18, 05:43:00 PM 2006  

  • apy:
    Looks like you are going the right direction, you ended up on the right blog ;)

    Thank you so much :) I will do my best

    Ya, it seems to be a common practice anywhere you go!

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Mon Aug 21, 01:20:00 AM 2006  

  • He has missed out on your personal details!!

    But with most of the parents, they are always comparing their near and dear ones with others.

    By Blogger chitra, at Thu Aug 31, 01:15:00 AM 2006  

  • Sounds like a setup for a Bollywood movie. Om Puri as Mr. T. You could be played by Deep Katdare, and Kal Penn as the huggable friend. It's a Super Hit!

    By Blogger Alan, at Thu Sep 07, 07:54:00 PM 2006  

  • By the way, I was second runner up in the Jackie Schroff look alike contest.

    By Blogger Alan, at Thu Sep 07, 07:56:00 PM 2006  

  • chitra:
    Yep. I don't mind if they compare in their mind. But it gets annoying when they want us to admit we are a piece of crap when compared their children :)

    I am embarrassed to admit that I had to go look up who Deep is :)
    Om Puri is too classy an actor to play Mr. T. Paresh Raval would be better :)

    "was second runner up in the Jackie Schroff "
    We just need to find a scrip where you can play his brother in a movie :) Did you see "Bollywood calling" If you haven't, you got to watch it

    By Blogger Twisted DNA, at Fri Sep 08, 01:36:00 PM 2006  

  • Paresh Raval would be a good choice. I was pretty sure who you meant, but I did look him up to confirm.

    Bollywood Calling sounds pretty good from the on-line reviews. I'll pick a copy and check it out.

    By Blogger Alan, at Sun Sep 10, 05:57:00 PM 2006  

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