Thursday, November 17, 2011

One Person's Rude is Another Person's Normal

I saw a doctor last week for a checkup and to get some testing done. Of course, hubby takes off the morning work and gets a lot of crap from his boss and we get there find out the doctor isn't in for the day. No worries, they can still make our file and run some tests and set us up to see the doctor in two days. This kind of thing is fairly common and is a direct effect of how India is more about the people and less about the strict production quotas (as would be the case in western countries).

So there we sat while the woman made our file, everyone staring at me and wondering who was getting treated. I guess it's rare to see a white girl in a clinic like this. After all, most people seem to think that no American would want to live here and we must all be visiting. It always leads to some interesting faces and conversations when they find out I do indeed live here and have for a while now.

Once our file was made we were sent to see the intake lady. (I'm not sure of her official title but she's the one that asks all the questions so she can put information into your file.) She asked some of the standard questions and gave us some strange looks and then she came to weight. Now, keep in mind I have a very dense bone structure but I am not a wooly mammoth/elephant/hippo...u get the point. I'm also no toothpick like Olive Oil from the cartoon Popeye and I'm thankful for that too. It's saved me from having broken bones during my man falls and such during the course of my life. My bangle size is 2.8 because I can't squeeze my knuckles any smaller and I can't wrap my fingers around my wrist and have them touch if that gives you any idea of how wide my bone structure is.

So I told her my weight and she got this snarly tone and this is how the conversation went:
Her: Have you put on weight since you've been here?
Me: No, I've lost weight.
Her: Really? How much have you lost?
Me: 25 Kg.
Her: (looking surprised) You must have been like this - to which she motioned her arms to mimic the moves of a zombie hippo. Then she looks at Hubby and said "Because people in the US eat all that fast food and cheese."
Me: No, I was the same waist size but I've lost a lot of muscle and some weight in other areas.

Then she tucked her head down. In the US her behavior would have been considered extremely rude. She would have been fired for insinuating how big I must have been and taking the mocking tone she took. In India discussing weight in this manner is commonplace and people (though they don't like it) accept that if they are overweight this kind of stuff is going to happen. Thankfully I've lived here long enough to know this and didn't get too overly offended by her comments. I wasn't happy about them because I've never been hippo, but I was able to resist the urge to smack her. This is however the first time I've had anyone here say anything directly to me in English.

Then she asked when I was going home. Hubby proudly told her I lived here and then more questions ensued.
Her: Do you like India?
Me: Some days.
Her: Are you enjoying Amritsar?
Me: Some days. (this time I was smiling)
Her: Do you like Indian food?
Me: Some of it - all but the spicy stuff (with an evil grin on my face because I was being facetious).

The questions went on and she had this huge smile on her face like she was so excited. Then she told me how people in India were more loving than in the US and wanted to know if I had seen that. I explained to her that where I'm from communities are closer than in the TV version of the US and she didn't get it. It was at this point I realized she hadn't been there because she told me again people in India were more loving and I would see that as I come to their clinic more often and she pointed towards herself as if to say "see this friendly face." Let's see if she remembers me when I go back in 2 days lol.


  1. True! I'm sure India started out as a very healthy place to be. It's just that they don't always seem to realize that tikki, though vegetarian, is still junk food. Just like they chastise westerners for eating junk food, they thrive off of it here too - just under the name of street food. It's good that Mumbai is taking an active stance on this topic, it would also seem the younger generation is realizing this as well. It's just the older ones...the ones that tend to be doctors especially, don't seem to keep up with the latest advancements.

  2. Oh yeah, we are reading the Hindustan times daily, and for the bast few months they have a page, or several called 'Fitter Mumbai" it ranges from exercise tips to eating healthier, Drs are urging people to get off their butts, pass on the ghee, and add a bit more salad stuff to their diet.
    So definitely can't say the traditional Indian diet is healthier than other cuisine, because if it was then India wouldn't be the world's diabetes capital just to name one lifestyle disease.

  3. I agree! And they don't want to change because their grandma's passed down that diet and so it must be good. Then they call me stubborn lol. I am stubborn, too stubborn to believe that foods your body can't digest can be good for you. I do have a theory though. I think they need the oil so that roti will slide down their throat. Every time Rohit eats food with roti and no grease he has trouble swallowing and it sticks in his chest and he can't get it to go down. Just makes me question how healthy that roti really is. After all, it's only fried wheat.

  4. Ugh. Well here's some interesting information -- diabetes and heart disease are huge two problems in India, so it's not like people's diets here are exactly healthy! Refined oil (with bad fats) is used for cooking, not healthier oil like olive oil. People don't exercise and are commonly overweight -- it's been in the newspapers a lot in Mumbai lately, how bad health problems are becoming because of poor diet and lack of exercise. It's so irritating that people think they eat better here!!

  5. It seems you have a new loving nosy friend :)

  6. I agree with you. This is very unprofessional behavior but is common. I've already ditched one doctor for the same obnoxious behavior. And I don't understand why they freak out when they realize I don't eat roti every day. There are other very good sources of protein and wheat that not only taste better but have more nutritional value and don't stain my fingers so bad I can't scrub the color off.

    Another girl in the office also gave me some crazy, stupid diet advice. I've got a blog coming on that one. It's way too much for a comment lol. It just amazes me that with all the health problems prevalent in this country the doctors still think the oily food is good for you. If everyday people are realizing it's not, looks like the doctors would at least consider the possibility that all the oil and ghee are too much.

  7. Ugh these stereotypes! Been there done that! I had an OB who refused to really investigate a weight gain until i told her myself that all things considered I thought theire might be PCOS to look into. Her reasoning was that it was normal for me to put on weight, I am a foreigner therefore I eat only junk food! I told her that I don't and then she challenged me and said really so what do you eat? And I told her about dal, chapati, sabzi skipping over continental food because I had the feeling this is what she all called junk food. And she was like "Oh you have a cook?" and me to reply that no I was cooking it myself and her to say "Oh you know how to cook??????" I felt insulted, so I just said "yes of course I do" I realised that not only she thought all foreigners eat junk food, but that they can't cook, a thing I heard way too often it is becoming sickening.
    I forced her to look into hormonal imbalance related stuff, and turned out I was right, I have PCOS and Insulin resistance related to it, so much for the junk food and foreigners theory huh?

    I don't think it is even culturally normal to make such assumption, this is plain rude and ignorant, especially when it comes from a doctor.
    Needless I ended up changing Doctor :) But she wasn't the only one who made the food assumption, my regular OB had a fill in for a couple of weeks while I was pregnant, and that substitute lady was a total bitch, she went on and on about how I HAVE to drink 2 cups of milk daily or I will HARM my baby, never mind I was on calcium supplement already, then she told me that NOTHING but proper home cooked INDIAN food was healthy enough for my baby, and when I said I prefered continental and mediteranean food she dismissed it all as unhygienic, unhealthy and lectured me once more on how i can't be selfish and need to think of my unborn child first...WTF? Of course it is a known fact that ALL pregnant ladies of the world eat Indian food...I bet the eskimos are rolling down chapati and cooking aloo jeera in their igloos too! Give me a break!