1) India is a poor country. So there’s people who live in huts, walk barefoot, dress in rags, and beg for money, that doesn’t make the entire country poor. Have you been to Harlem lately? The country has positioned itself as one of the world’s leading emerging economic powers, churning out an impressive number of billionaires. Stop believing the skewed images of the media and take a look for yourself. Are you seriously going to generalize about 1.3 billion people based on a few photos you’ve seen in books or on TV. Poverty is one part of India; it doesn’t define the entire country. Visiting DLF Emporio, Delhi’s answer to LA’s Rodeo Drive might give you a whole new perspective.
2) Traveling in India is dangerous. But so is Compton, but that doesn’t make the entire U.S. dangerous. Yes, parts of India should be toured with caution, such as the volatile Kashmir region, but for the most part, India is just as dangerous as you make it. If you exercise common sense, you’ll be able to overcome the perils of the country. I promise.
3) If you’ve seen the Taj Mahal, you’ve seen India. You couldn’t be more wrong. Yes, the Taj Mahal is beautiful, and it’s the face of India to many. It was to me. But as the world’s 7th largest country with a history that spans thousands of years, there can’t possibly be only one site worth visiting. Check out the country’s dynamic urban culture, beaches, mountains, deserts, and the endless forts and palaces, and then say you’ve seen India. Even then, that’s pushing it.
The Taj Mahal (Photo Credit: artqueen.com)
4) All Indians run around trees, singing and dancing. Good job, Bollywood. I heard this one a few months ago and was absolutely floored. Sadly enough, the person was serious.
5) Everyone in India engages in spirituality, meditation, and yoga. Contrary to popular belief, not everyone in India is a yoga guru. Did you seriously think that?
6) Indians don’t speak English. Sure, their accent is different, and maybe not the most pleasant-sounding, but it’s still English. English is actually one of the country’s official languages. It’s the language of the law. It’s also the primary language used in universities. I learned this fact when I studied abroad at Delhi University; I was surprised myself.
7) Indian is a language. There are hundreds of languages spoken in India, none of which include Indian. Indian is not a language, it’s a demonym that describes people from the country of India. I can’t even recall how many times people asked me if I had picked up any “Indian” when I came back from my study abroad experience in Delhi. Listen up folks, you can no longer plead ignorance–you have been informed. And another thing, I don’t speak American; I speak English.
8) Everyone in India has an arranged marriage. That would be a false statement. Arranged marriages are still common with many rural and traditional minds, but progressive thought has certainly permeated its way through urban India. Dating may not be as common as the Western world, but it definitely is a lot more common than you may think.
9) India is the land of snake-charmers. This is probably one of the most photographed scenarios in India, maybe second to the Taj Mahal, but I hate to burst your bubble and tell you that the country is not overflowing with snake-charmers everywhere. In fact, when you see them, mostly in the state of Rajasthan, it’s more of a tourist scene, inspired by this very myth.
The not-so-ubiquitous snake-charmer (Photo Credit: breathedreamgo.com)
10) You can ask Indians all about the kamasutra, as they’re all experts. C’mon now.
11) All Indians are vegetarians. If that were true, why is chicken tikka masala one of the most famous dishes? It’s probably much easier to find a vegetarian joint in India than the Western world, but yummy dishes with chicken, fish, lamb, and the likes have found fans in many Indians.
12) Hinduism is the only religion in India. There is a majority culture of Hindus, most definitely. But there are also many Muslims, Christians, Catholics, Jews, etc. represented. Not everyone you meet will be a Hindu. In fact, even Atheism is on the rise.
13) The extent of Indian food is curry. There are many different types of curry-based dishes, but the Indian cuisine is so much more than that. The cuisine is extremely diverse, and in fact, the dishes commonly eaten in the North are not the ones eaten in the South. Try the masala dosa in the South. And not all Indian food is spicy.
Diversity in the Indian Cuisine (Photo Credit: turmericindia.com)
14) India is located in the Middle East. Quick geography lesson: India is in Asia, south Asia to be precise. Again, you have been informed.
15) The climate of India is extremely hot and humid. Yes, in parts of the country. But there are many areas, such as the states of Himachal Pradesh and Uttaranchal where the weather is pleasantly temperate, and sometimes freezing, depending on how close you get to the Himalayas.
Conclusion: India is a beautiful country, with its varying set of strengths and weaknesses, just like any other country. Don’t believe what you see in the media, and make judgements only after you’ve visited the country yourself.