When I was a student in New Delhi, I came across several folks in my high school who spoke in accents from countries that are yet to be created, all in the effort to sound “cool.” Like many other private schools, there was a significant influx of western mindset and influence from popular American movies and sitcoms.
After moving to the States for University, I became more cognizant of my own heritage and made somewhat of an effort to truly understand the meaning and significance of all the prayers I used to repeat like a parrot during a puja ceremony. In short, there was a unique sense of pride that came with being an Indian and celebrating festivals like Holi and Diwali on campus, at a temple, or social event. And when I moved back home to start work, I felt privileged to eat home-cooked Indian food with my family when other international students survived on Maggi and takeout.
Today, my Hindi may sound a bit “dehati” at times (owing to the hilarity of comedian Kapil Sharma) but I am overjoyed when I encounter any new Indian person so that I can employ my desi witticisms on them. I doubt I would ever felt as close to my culture had I not settled back in the US and embraced and appreciated the spiritual significance of yoga, the Gita, and ayurveda, all of which has garnered immense popularity in the West.
This post is dedicated to all those desis, like me, who can never get enough masala from the likes of makhani dal, Bollywood, and dosa; and those who would rather crack a joke in their native tongue because it loses its flavor in translation; and finally, those who have far more reasons to celebrate because of the many festivals falling in between the govt holidays of the foreign land that they now call home.
Here are my top 9 signs that indicate the FOB force is still strong in us.
1. Expletives In Local Language
Speaking of lost in translation, I find there to be far more cathartic release when we utter certain profanities in our own language rather the dull and boring language that can be English.
Let me narrate a real life example.
My family was eating at Olive Garden one night.
As the waitress served my grandma her plate of pasta, she motioned to add some grated cheese. My dadi loves extra cheese so she replied, “Payede horr.”
The waitress was startled to see such an old lady cursing, to which my dadi replied, “Payede horr bich.”
To those who are confused, Payede = put. Horr= more, and bich = inside/between.
Payede horr bich (Himachali dialect) = please put more on my plate.
Did I mention how I love awkward family moments?
2. Our Questions Often Sound Like Answers
I sincerely believe that as desis, we are not comfortable with the thought of putting our verbs before our nouns.
Common conversational examples:
- “The train to NY is on this platform, no?”
- “You have chai here?”
Sometimes our questions are hilarious in and of themselves.
Q) Can I have chipotle?
A) Sir, that is the name of this place.
And not to forget the phonetic nature of our dialects.
Ok smarty pants, you have a quesadilla?
(Yes, we will pronounce every alphabet in quesadilla. In your face, European languages that eat their own alphabets.)
3. Oil in Hair and Bling Bling
I remember when I went to class in 8th grade and left my hair oiled from the previous day. I did get made fun of by a few classmates but that did not stop me from keeping my regimen of oiling once a week intact. It is even more heavenly when my mom massages my head for me.
Now coming to jewelery. South Indians are likely to adorn quite a bit of gold all year round, thereby single-handedly fluctuating its price with every season and wedding.
There is also another kind of bling bling us desis are well known for. You see, the best way to tell a desi person from the next is to see the number of rings they wear on their fingers.
No, that does not imply polygamy.
Rather, all those rings are thanks to the popularity of astrologers and brainwashing fortune tellers stemming from our country. Some folks wear so many rings, it would give Green Lantern and his intergalactic force a run for their money.
4. Craving Indian Food at All Hours
As a proud FOB, my food cravings do not include pizza, nor have I ever relished “howdogs” (Russell Peters) or french fries and funnel cakes as outdoor snacks. Instead, replace all those with chaat, idli, and falooda ice cream respectively. If I want to go for a quick food run, the nearest dosa place or Indian pastry shop would be it. I am not sure how desis in lands without access to good Indian food even survive.
5. Our Song and Movie Collections Say It All
Our playlists are likely to have more songs sung in our native tongue than the number of collaborations Pitbull has done with other human beings. God bless the Saavn app.
Some of the more enthusiastic desis may use Bollywood songs as a ringtone from the latest hit flick. If that ringtone happens to belong to a tune from Aashiqui 2, people should reserve the right to smack you.
As far as movies are concerned, it is far easier for me to connect with a Delhi based movie like Queen, or Indo-American movie like Swades than it is for me to watch a Hollywood movie with aliens fighting robots. Exceptions to this include Despicable Me series 🙂
6. Watching Cricket Highlights Over Football
I’ve attended a few football and baseball games in the US and I still don’t understand why everyone is screaming at odd intervals of the game. It is quite fun to attend them but when it comes to true sports spirit, I keep a tab on India’s performances in Cricket games. My favorite moment was seeing India win the World Cup from a live stream in my dorm room in March 2011. Cricket, according to me, is a bit like baseball, though a much tougher game as there is a lot more running involved and fielders are actually required to catch the ball with their hands 😛
7. Our Scope of TV Channels: Anywhere from Kapil Sharma to Devon Ke Dev Mahadev
If your Indian family, like mine, has a subscription to Dish Network, chances are that you spend more time viewing shows like Devon Ke Dev Mahadev and Savdhaan India than Wheel of Fortune and Law & Order: SVU. I might be one of the few remaining species on the planet that still watches music videos on B4U.
Thanks to Mahadev, my Hindi has improved over time to the extent that I now talk of good weather as “Yahaan ka vatavaraan swaraglok se bhi priye hai.”
Thanks to Savdhaan India, I am actually fooled to believe that most of the Indian police is actually as polite and efficient as depicted in their episodes.
And a big hearty thanks to Kapil Sharma for alleviating depression in my household.
The only exception to this TV show ritual is The Big Bang Theory, because which Indian doesn’t want to watch a stereotypical and caricature version of themselves in Raj.
8. Attending Desi Events, Some More Bizarre Than Others
It feels good to connect with other FOBs at such kind of social gatherings, especially since it gives us a chance to dress up in our beautiful attire. And even if it be at the expense of multiple aunties wishing to do your rishta and creepy uncles ogling at you.
Check out this desi-licious neon rave below! Sounds out of this world! 😉
9. Last but not least, we are guilty of sending corny desi jokes and forwards on Whatsapp
This one is self-explanatory. Aap Santa Banta nahin jantey? Bahut famous hain – Queen 🙂