Wednesday, September 19, 2012

If You Stood an Indian and a Pakistani Side By Side....

.....Could you tell the difference? What about the difference between an Indian and a Nepali? Bangladeshi? I bet some of you can because you're savvy on the different fashions between the countries or other trivial markers that align a person with their nation. But try to only compare faces and see if you can do it.

****DISCLAIMER: This post has nothing to do with religion as sometimes you can spot religious differences because of their individual displays of faith. That's a completely different subject.

Let's test you. Here's some pictures. There is 1 Bangladeshi, 1 Nepali, 1 Pakistani, and 1 Indian.
Bangladesh Dec 2010Portrait of Muslim Indian teenage girl, Cochin, Kerala, India

MoodsNepali girl being silly in Kathmandu, Nepal
Here's one more I couldn't link to but I love how confusing it can be to figure out this young girls' nationality! See her here and read the comments.

Yep, you guessed it. I threw in a few tricky ones. You can mouse over the photos to see if you were right or not. Then leave me a comment and tell me how well you did on this test. Be honest, you're not being graded.

It's no major secret that several countries used to be part of India. So at some point, Indian people left India, aligned themselves with another nation and changed their nationality basically. These new nations become labels that divide us.

While I appreciate culture, it's far too often used to divide us as people. Labels define us, limit us. Many people will say they don't want to be labeled but yet they readily take on labels. I'm guilty of it myself. Labels aren't bad, it's only when they are misused in a negative way that it becomes an issue.

Two prime examples are when all non-Indians are labeled as westerners and when all brown people (non-Hispanic) are labeled as middle easterners. Both of these seemingly innocent words are widely used in a negative tone. It shows ignorance in the person who uses them that way. You simply cannot label massive groups of people under one category no matter how similar we are. Well, except for to say we are all human. We are all people. And we should all be treated equally as such.

There's a lot of tension between these nationalities. While some of it is pride in one's own country, there's also some blatant hatred toward each other. Each country has it's own diverse culture. Then why don't they all get along?

Okay, primarily it's only India and Pakistan that can't get along very well. BUT, when it comes to other matters, some Indians treat Nepali's as if they are outsiders and some Nepali's treat Indians as if they're an entirely different race. It's the same in Bangladesh. I once mentioned to an Indian that Bangladesh used to be part of India and they got offended and ended the conversation.

It doesn't matter why it was divided, we should all see people as equal and make a better effort to get along. Let go of old hurts, past wounds and misconceptions and try to understand that each of us is the same and different all at once and that is good...not bad. (Can't we all just get along?)

So how did you do on the pictures?
How do you feel when your desi partner discusses previously Indian nations? Do you get a positive or negative vibe?
How do you feel about negative stereotypes about each of these nations?
How have you personally been affected by these stereotypes?


  1. Hola!.This is what I think they are. :)

    1 - Pakistani (the boy with the daisy)
    2 - Bangladeshi (the girl)
    3 - Indian (the boy in yellow)
    4 - Nepali (the boy in red)


  2. (Can't we all just get along? - Martin Luther King)

    No, that was RODNEY King that said that.
    Anyway, no one ever thinks my Kashmiri husband is Indian or even south Asian- he has brown hair, green eyes & what looks to be a great tan.
    I get really tired of Desi's making such a HUGE deal over skin color & 'regionalism' (not sure if that is the right word?)
    I've heard Nepalis called 'dog eater', 'chinky' and some other nastiness. I've heard north Indians calling south Indians 'macaca' (monkey) etc.
    Personally, I am REALLY sick of being verbally attacked by Indians when they find out my husband and I are Kashmiri and Muslim.
    Every time I go through immigration into India I have to hear how Kashmir is the worst, we are terrorists & murderers & the list goes on.
    Is it too much to ask for a little professionalism and courtesy from at least the Indian civil servants in immigration?

  3. Thanks for sharing your answer. It proves just how difficult it is to tell.

  4. Wow. I'm losing touch with American culture lol. Oops.

    I've heard "chink" applied toward those in the North.

    (Try to remember how naive I can be....) I always associate good things with Kashmir. Like shawl's and fine accessories. Obviously I didn't get out much before India lol. Unfortunately Kahsmir does have a bad rap around India and some of it I can understand because of the tension going on there. But, like you I agree it is far too dramatized and too many unnecessary misconceptions exist. You definitely deserve more professionalism in immigration and such but I doubt you ever find it (at least in the American sense) anywhere but the major offices.

  5. Distrust or dislike or an affinity for certain people or nationalities has a lot to do with past histories and present economic and political circumstances. I suggest some time researching subcontinental history and the news papers before making sweeping statements like... why cant we just get along because we are all equal. The point is that because of past and present circumstances some people are percieved as more equal than others.

    This is a bit like... all goras look the same to our brown skinned selves... so why dont all goras think alike. Well ... goras are different because each shade and type of gora has a different back story. The very same thing applies to all of us who are from the subcontinent. We may look like a brown skinned mass but we are not all the same shade or have the exact same history. However we are part of the same... the subcontinent. Big difference.

  6. Mistakes of the past do not justify racism. That statement happens to be infamous in the US.