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Clichés about India

Questions People From India Are Sick Of Answering: 

1.     “What caste are you?” 

I have chosen to CASTE aside antiquated means of social stratification. 

NB from IndianSamourai: About the castes: post


2.      “How come your English is so good?” 

I’m from the country with the second-largest English-speaking population in the world. You? 

NB from IndianSamourai:Ok but English is a fluently spoken by less than 10% of the population! 


3.      “So, do you speak Hindu?” 

Yup, fluently. And I can say a couple of things in Muslim and Christian too. 

NB from IndianSamourai:Hindu is a religion, Hindi is a language (spoken by about half of the population, though it is the official language).   


4.      “Do people in India really sing and dance all the time like in Bollywood movies?” 

Totally. Just like people in America constantly get attacked by extraterrestrial forces of evil and then saved by leagues of superheroes. 


5.      “Will you get to ride an elephant at your wedding?” 

Can’t make any promises, but an elephant is pretty likely to be involved, yes. 

NB from IndianSamourai:Elephants actually still happen… Though horses are more common and now luxury cars. 


6.     “Cricket is just like…a lame version of baseball…right?” 

APOLOGIZE, TAKE IT BACK, AND NOBODY GETS HURT. This is a really wicket thing to say. 


7.     “Will you pleeeease cook me Indian food?” 

Nope, I will be doing absolutely naan of that. 

NB from IndianSamourai: Naan is a bread commonly used to pick up the food and it sounds like “none” with the Indian accent. 


8.     “Why would anyone get an arranged marriage?” 

Because it’s basically just the original OkCupid. Anything’s easier than dating, amirite? 

NB from IndianSamourai: A post coming on this topic soon! 


9.     “Do you ever get sick of curry?” 

Literally no. Primarily because a couple of other foods are also available to me. I do appreciate your curryosity, though. 


10.   “Can you teach me yoga?” 

I mean…I can try…but you’re probably better off, like…asking someone who knows yoga… 

NB from IndianSamourai: Yoga is not actually so commonly practiced in India; it has picked up lately in the metros after it became trendy in the West.  


11.   “And what’s that other holiday where you throw the colors? I love that one.” 

HOLI shit, you dumb. 

NB from IndianSamourai: Holi is a festival in March when people throw colours at each other. 


12.   “How come India is in Asia but you aren’t Asian?” 

Stfu, man. South Asians are Asians too. 


13.   “Are you Arab?” 

When’s your birthday? I know what I’m getting you. 


14.   “I’ve heard it smells awful. Does it smell awful?” 

You smell awful. And racist. You smell racist. 

NB from IndianSamourai: I have to say, you encounter many “funny” smells… 


15.   “Everyone basically does tech support, yeah?” 

Yup, 1 billion people, all day every day, answering phone calls from America. 


16.   “Do you only eat spicy food?” 

Ya, all my taste buds were singed off at birth so now I can’t taste food unless it’s doused in hot sauce. So glad someone understands.


17.   “Are you ALL vegetarian?”

 NB from IndianSamourai: See: post 


18.   “But you actually do pray to cows, right?” 

I’m praying to a cow right now, asking that you leave me alone. Moooove, bitch. 

NB from IndianSamourai: Ok but they DO worship cows!! See: post 


19.   “Why do you need sooo many gods?” 

They give me the patience and spiritual fortitude to keep from punching ignorant people. 


20.   “Hey, can you help me with this math?” 

I don’t even know enough math to count all the racist assumptions you’ve made today. 


21.   “Omg I love saris! Can you teach me how to tie a sari?” 

Yeeees! After that, let’s paint our nails and give each other bindis and do each other’s hair and stay up all night talking about cultural appropriation! 

NB from IndianSamourai: I was asked by my French dentist whether I was going to work in a sari so I guess it is a justified question. Let’s say that in “corporate” India women don’t really wear saris anymore though they still wear often salwar-kameez (a tunique with some kind of leggings or loose pants). 


22.   “No offense, but like…what’s the third world like?” IMG_0387.JPG

I rode an elephant to school every day and Mowgli was my classmate. 


23.   “Have you ever ridden on top of a train?” 

Only when my elephant was broken and my camel was at the garage. 


24.   “It’s basically just like Slumdog Millionaire, right?” 





Why in India most people are vegetarian?

My mother gave me an idea. She was in a great shape during her last trip to India and asked me about a dozen of questions every minute: and why is this woman dressed like that and why is this guy doing this and why this and why that? A bit annoyed by the number of questions and even more because I didn’t have the answer, I started making up (stupid) answers, which she kinda believed….  

And then I thought that if my mother asks herself these questions, maybe others do too! And here is a series of posts like Why are Indians vegetarian? Why do Indians worship the cow? Why do Indians eat with their fingers? Why do Indians have red marks on the forehead? Why do Sikhs wear turbans? etc.  

Enjoy the reading!


Why are Indians vegetarians?


Even after seven years of being able to order chicken in most of the restaurants I have been to, I'm the first one to claim that Indians are vegetarians. Is it because I had never met one before?

Because as a matter of fact less than half of the Indian population is vegetarian! (1) Of course in numbers it is very high since one person out of 6 on this planet is Indian; consequently 70% of the vegetarians in this world live in India. (2)


The concept of the non-veg (non-vegetarian) versus veg (vegetarian) is quite peculiar here. 

The pure veg, for instance, usually won’t drink alcohol. Do you see the link? I for one assume that if the pure veg is respectful enough of the rules to not eat meat he will also abide by by other rules, like regarding drinks…

Or when an Indian tells you he is a Brahmin, there are great chances (55%) he is veg, unless he is a Kashmiri Brahmin (they eat mutton) or a West Bengali one (they are fond of fish). (3)

Another example is how the pure non-veg will blow a fuse if you serve him a meal without meat or fish – it's completely inconceivable for him. 

I just fell from the sky when my favorite ex-Indian almost cancelled our trip to Hampi when he discovered (at the last minute, of course) that it was a sacred place. And who says sacred – I discovered it that day – also says no meat and no alcohol! india,food,vegetarian,non-vegetarian,pure vegetarian,veg,non-veg,meat,cow,pig,fish,jain,buddhist,hindu,religion,buddha,nonviolence,asoka,sacrifice,holy cow,sacred cow

There is also the non-veg who, to clear his conscience, will deprive himself of meat on the special days of worship of his God (when he doesn’t fast completely). And there are other funny rules like when my Hindu colleague cannot eat garlic nor onion on Tuesdays, Hanuman’s day. 


So how did Indians become veg?


There was a time (Vedic to be precise) when Brahmins (the priests), who today are the most ardent defenders of the sacred cow, practiced religious sacrifices of the said cow. But it was for its good: it was already revered at that time and it enabled the animal to move up faster in the reincarnation cycle. In the texts (particularly the Book of Manu) non-vegetarianism was quite framed: the killing of animals should be as part of a ritual sacrifice, only certain animals should be slaughtered and we could eat their meat only for a particular purpose. (4) 


A few centuries BC, Lord Mahavir, a Hindu of blue blood, gave up all his belongings (including his clothes) at 30 and went meditating for twelve years. He came back with the Jainism doctrine and its principle of nonviolence which is quite extensive as it applies even to bacteria. Jains cannot eat meat, fish, egg, honey, onions and garlic (which arouse sexual desire), vegetables that grow in the ground (potatoes, carrots etc) nor fruits still on the tree. 


Almost at the same time, the prince Gautama Buddha renounced his lifestyle at 29 and after six years of meditation in the forest, he stated the principles of Buddhism, including non-violence. History repeats itself... Except that Buddhists are slightly less stringent than Jains: it is not forbidden to eat meat but to kill the animal... 


A few centuries later, as the Hindu Emperor Asoka was ruling on the largest empire that was ever built in India, he woke up one morning disgusted with all the violence caused by the wars and converted to Buddhism, enjoining his people to do the same. "No living being must be slaughtered or offered in sacrifice."


As Buddhism threatened Hinduism, Hindu priests bounced back and encouraged the practice of vegetarianism which thus spread. Cows began to prosper. One cannot say the same of Jains and Buddhists (which are now respectively 4 and 8 millions in India (5)). Pigs and goats also went through a flourishing era until the Muslims started coming in in the 8th century (6), some 9 centuries after India had turned veg (except for warriors and Kings- not crazy these ones! – and Untouchables who ate whatever they could find). (7) 


Next we will see Why do Indians worship cows?


(1) 31% are pure vegetarian and 9% eat eggs. Source:


(3) Lord Mahavir (599 B.C. - 527 b.c. Gautama Buddha (563 BC - 483 BC), King Asoka (304 B.C. - 232 B.C.) )






Orissa or India and her pious tradition… 2

At breakfast, the room of the restaurant is empty, as well as the plates. We feel like asking for the moon when we ask for toasts. We decide to give up, leave and buy biscuits somewhere. Well, yes, except that the car will be 30 minutes late. The guy at the reception sends us back to breakfast where by magic food has appeared! We stuff ourselves with parathas and potatoes!


We then visit the Sun Temple of Konark, a massive charriot with 24 giant wheels. An enormous stone temple which dates from the 11th century, partly renovated, full of erotic sculptures from the tantric period (soon a post on this).

Small digression on one of the Indian paradoxes: they worship penises (the lingam of Shiva), a lot of temples are adorned of sculptures with sexual character but the smallest hint of a tit on TV and the image is blurred and the sex is a huge taboo. A heritage of the English according to my Indian friends; in my opinion it started changing well well before the British time, and the Arab invasions starting in the 8th century also played a part - and I am not the only one to think that! see here). And here are the Indians somehow stuck between thousands year old tradition and “modernity”. Just saying…


The complex of the temple was superb, not only the architecture (see here: A) but the gardens, and we enjoyed it big time in spite of the heat and the Indians who stopped us every 30 seconds (I do not exaggerate) to take a picture of/with us. A little annoying after some time…


Small stop at the beach on the way back. Virgin beach as soon as one moves away a little. Undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and quiet beach that I have seen in India.


De Konark, Orissa - Nov 2011



Lunch at 3:30 in the only open restaurant. “Open all the day”. The waiter brings us the menu and lets us lose ourselves in it. And then at the time of the order (some 10 minutes later), there is only “fried rice”. Normal. And a chai? No? Good… He finally takes his fingers out of his a.. to prepare me a tea!!


After that it is superb! There is an incredible crowd on the beach. The tradition in this auspicious day (Kartik Purnima) is to send small boats to the sea, in commemoration of the close relatives who left in this day to Java, Sumatra, Bali (from where the name of Bali Yatra or Boita Bandana). Many people come to the beach for that, including tribal Indians, the old women not wearing a blouse under their saris etc. What a piety!

A superb experience thus, especially with the puja (ceremony) on the beach at 18:30 where the Hindus get purified by fire. Many people took pictures of us but it was only fair as we did the same!


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