Sunday, August 14, 2011

How Does America Treat Indians?

This question is addressed to all my Indian/Pakistani/Nepali...South Asian readers lol. If you're a spouse of a South Asian, please also add your comments as to how your South Asian partner was treated, or how you two were treated while out together.

I'm asking this question because I've got some things on my mind lately, especially about how countries/citizens treat outside cultures. I want to know your thoughts and feelings on how you were treated when you visited, lived, while you are living in and even when you encountered other Americans.

How did they treat you? 

How was the hospitality? 

Were there things that scared you? What and Why?

Were there places you felt you couldn't/shouldn't/wouldn't go? And Why?

Were there things that shocked you? Things you found hard to adjust to?

Tell me your stories. Let me know your thoughts and feelings. If you are uncomfortable sharing here, please use the "Contact White Bhabi" link above. Your private message will be delivered to me and I will respond to you in private.

As you've all had the chance to read, India has had it's ups and downs for me. However, if there's something you would like to ask about my experiences, ask away. There's still so much I haven't covered here and if you're curious, I'll let you know my thoughts and experiences on just about any subject.


  1. Wow, crazylassi, can I ask where you lived in England? My guy is an Indian raised in London and I'm from the US but lived in London for three years now. I'm really sorry to hear of your experience, but please don't think all of the UK is like that. Our neighborhood is quite diverse and we often see mixed desi couples. Thankfully we've never had any issues.

  2. Thank you so much for your emotional reply. It's very helpful in answering some of the questions I'm having. Especially your comments about feeling like guests. Even though they are not about the US, I really think your comments are on point with the topic. Thank you again!

  3. that's an interesting initiative

  4. Hey, White Bhabi, I just thought this was an interesting question. I am Lithuanian married to an Indian and we lived in the UK before (I know it's not America but for us it's kinda same). Polite people would be polite and some people would stare but we were treated normally except for some verbal comments that my brother-in-law used to get while traveling to his college. Someone called him "slum dog millionaire" and he was threatened by a British born Pakistani guy in a bus...

    My husband said that he experienced a lot more racial stuff but he just ignored it so I don't know much about it but there were some difficulties when finding a job later. 

    My husband used to feel uneasy in very British areas, like suburbs, where many people would just stare a lot (even in England) but that would be "positive stares". 

    When I was going to marry my Indian husband, my British host family said  I should seriously think about it and maybe not do it. They seemed to have a generally negative image of South Asians created by the media and bad news about killed Indian or Pakistani wives. 

    After we tried to live in the UK as a family, I felt very much like I'm an immigrant and my husband too. I preferred to live in an area were other families were also mixed, so not to be the only Asian house on the street.
    All the neighbors were very nice but on the New Years day in the morning we found loads of eggs on our front door and the front car glass smashed.
    I have no idea who could have done that but I'm sure they weren't our elderly British neighbors.

    One day I started feeling very down about living in the UK and I saw no bright future for our daughter. Living and dieing like some guests. I realized that Britain was neither of our's home-country and I didn't feel neither safe nor protected there, especially when one day I found a flyer in the post-box (well, near the front door) that was some party's election add that said something like: "We will make Britain a better place to live, we will get rid of all the immigrants from Eastern Europe and South of Asia". That was the end of it for me and we moved back to India after 2 months of so.

    My husband personally loved and loves UK and the "white people" and their wonderful manners and organization skills. He feels he learned a lot from his British tutors and employers and still keeps in touch with them. He adores England and wants to go back because he loves the system and good manners that people have and the fact that they smile a lot and they were basically good for him. He became a lot grumpier and rough since we came to India. I personally have always wanted to live in an Asian country and would move only to another Asian country.

  5. Thanks! I'm really hopeful that I get many comments on this topic. With the possibility of facing a visa to the US later for my husband, I want to know for sure exactly what we could be facing so we best know how to prepare.

  6. I live in Ohio, my desi guy had already been living in our area for about a year when we started dating. Where I live, seeing interracial couples is still pretty new but it is starting to become a little bit more common. We don't always get looks but there will be the occasional stare. I got very lucky, he was very nervous of my family not really liking him. When he met my grandparents and aunts and uncles they fell in love with him right from the get go, which I think shocked him lol. 

    But I still think people will have the typical "Indian stereotype" of how they are because they weren't taught otherwise. I've gotten the whole " Is he going to steal you away to India and close off ties with your family and beat you and stuff?" Uh.... no.... lol. Silly things like that because of how the media is. That and I would get " Are you sure he isn't just using you for a Green Card? Or just to have a good time before he goes back home to get married?" For those I would look for the little red flags that would indicate if he was using me, mainly I had other indian guys I knew of that only were with girls to have with, but I would also contradict saying " An American over here can do the exact same thing to me?"

    Oh, just not to long ago my desi guy was out and about with his friend one night to get a shake, and they were sitting down and a guy comes up towards them and starts asking if they were the guys from 9/11....... and once he got yelled at while someone was driving a car saying go back to your home....other than that.....he hasn't had a bad experience here. So you're going to have idiots no matter where you live.... I always look at it like they are just ignorant and refuse to educate themselves on things. I think you and your hubby will be fine :)

  7. I'm from a small town too, little things like you mentioned I do kind of expect when we visit family there. I intend to move somewhere different with him though, somewhere there is a larger Indian community. It's been hard on me here not having other westerners around and I don't want him to feel completely alone like that. I did kind of figure that we would get some stupidity. Like you, I too know that western men can do the same things my husband will be accused of because of his color. I like the way you counteracted that. I may have to borrow that line lol. I'm glad your sweetheart hasn't had any seriously bad experiences while living in the US.

  8. I am an Indian grad student in northeast. Came about 2 years back. When I came here, I thought I was coming to the land of opportunities. My illusion did not take long to disappear.
     How did they treat you?In one sentence, bad. While on the outside, everyone was polished, inside, there was a clear discrimination. The worst were the women ! I guess they believed before hand that I was a desperate pervert. As they came to know more about me, they started respecting me. But my that time, my mood was "No thanks!". I just cant understand why do I always have to prove myself. I have lived for some time in Scandinavia and my experience was totally different. I got integrated really easy with Europeans. Anyways, I have realized that home is home, and am ready to move back. I dont know why everyone is so closed here. Neighbors dont talk to neighbors, interracial couples are rare etc etc

    Need I say that ?

    What were the things that scared you?
    Not much, I am a brave guy !

    Places you wouldn't go?
    Pubs, I am sure I would get into some trouble !

    Things that shocked you?
    So much prejudice! Completely opposite of what I used to think. 

  9. I'm really sorry things were that bad for you. I do appreciate your comments though. You are right, in American there is the expectation of proving yourself placed on everyone. Even I have felt that in many ways and I'm not the competitive type so most time I just didn't bother. I'm guessing you lived in a larger city since you mentioned that neighbors don't talk to neighbors,etc. I came from a very small town and everyone talked to everyone because they felt it was important to know how lived next door. I did notice though when I lived in larger cities that I never met a single neighbor despite living in a very large apartment complex for 2 years. I'm going to try to avoid that kind of city atmosphere, especially now that I read your post and know it's worse for immigrants. I'm actively working on places where Rohit can find support and friendship and thankfully my family already knows several Punjabis and some Gujrati's. So that will help him some. Still, I know from living here how important it will be for him to find someone he can connect with and vent his frustrations about lifestyle differences and the things that are getting to him and have someone who can truly understand him.

    Hospitality does exist in the southern US, but not in the same form as India. There we do serve our guests drinks, snacks (even the handy men and workers that come to fix things) and we are much more hospitable than larger cities, or cities up north. I truly hope that you can find somewhere in America where you can experience the difference between where you are now, and get the chance to experience a better part of America.

  10. I hope you get more comments. I'd be interested to know what people think and their experiences.

    I always wanted to help newcomers from other countries get adjusted in USA for this reason- because being a newcomer in US is hard. As your first commenter said, you have to prove yourself in US. This goes hand in hand with the individualistic culture. But as you rightly said EVERYONE has to do this regardless of being an immigrant or a citizen. So equally everyone has to prove themselves- and it can be exhausting.

    But I feel one has to prove themselves when moving somewhere else- moving to a new city or a different country. Like you I am an American living in India- I feel I have to do some proving of myself before others accept me- not everyone as this is true in US too .. there are individuals who will be kind and helpful and for those who haven't met one who can be kind and helpful my heart goes out to you.

    It's always important when moving to a new place to understand it a bit before going- going with some expectations that are too positive (I will get to do what I want cause it's the land of opportunities) or too negative (no one will like me cause I am Indian and other Indians aren't liked by Americans) will not be helpful for the person going or others- as the vibe we put out we get back in most cases.

    Recently as I trained a few students getting ready to study in US I had tried to give a balanced perspective of things to expect in US. It's still early in their stay of course, but the reports I am getting back is 'Thanks for not painting the over rosy picture that we get in India- I am going in with a balanced perspective and trying to see things for what they really are- not the daydream I and my family thought it would be." When we can go in with realistic expectations and realize that humans will be helpful at times and not so pleasant others - that's realistic.

    Anyway I can go on this topic forever. I will stop here!

  11. Thanks Jennifer! That's why I set this post, to get as much information as I can to help Rohit prepare. I didn't know enough and there was not enough information for me. I want to give him the best perspective to start with and I want to be there for him the best I can be.

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