Thursday, March 21, 2013

Indians Have a Distorted View of India

I'm not picking on Indians. Anyone who has never left their home country will have this same issue. But, because I'm not Indian and have chosen to expose myself to India, spend time there and write about India, I see a lot of this. It is sometimes difficult for me to understand because here in the US, if we see a problem with our country, or even something we don't like, we are the first ones to talk about it, criticize it and then do something to try and fix it. I don't see this coming from Indians and I know there are cultural differences but to a pardesi it gets TIRING fending off comments about how great and perfect India is.

As an outsider, it is much easier for me to take an objective view of what I see in India. My views are not tainted by patriotism, love for my friends and family or the general denial that most Indians are famous for. Now, for those of you who are Indian and read this blog I must warn you to leave now if you can't imagine there could be anything in your country that doesn't work efficiently. You won't like what I'm going to say - I guarantee it. Thankfully this warning is not needed for the majority of my Indian readers. They are both educated and have enough common sense to realize that problems are not resolved by ignoring them. At least not all problems.

I'm really enjoying this new generation of Indians that are standing up for what is right. I'm not happy with how they have came into the picture (because of the rapes, eve-teasing, etc.) but I delight in watching them make a stand for a better India.

Back to my point. The majority of Indians I've encountered will argue with you till death that anything negative you say about India is not true. Their view seems to be that because they are satisfied with how things are around them that all of India must be doing well and not need changing. Of course, they would also swear that the things other pardesi's, expats and myself have experienced are rare.

This is simply not true. None of these things are rare. There's hundreds of pardesi's with ties to all parts of India who are experiencing the same thing. So where does the problem lie when we are trying to communicate with each other (the pardesi's and the Indians)? It lies in the lack of knowledge among Indians who have never left India of how other countries operate. Basically, they don't know what they are missing because they've never been exposed to it.

It's not wrong. But, arguing with people who have seen both worlds is futile. It's narrow-minded. It won't get you anywhere and it certainly is not beneficial to India. Fortunately there are many Indians who are willing to hear what people say, research for themselves and look for ways to improve the India they love. It's not easy, I know I've been through this myself with America. You didn't think my husband thought America was the perfect place did you? If so, you're wrong.

There were some problems he pointed out to me that I never realized were problems. I had to be open to this and it's hard to listen to. I knew America had issues that needed fixing but I didn't realize some of the things he would point out. Also, because of how I grew up, there were a few things he pointed out that I easily agreed with.

So while you may not agree or you may not understand, try to be open to the possibility that things can be better outside of India. Some things won't. There are a few things India is better at than other countries but you can't be perfect in every way. It's not realistic. It might suit you, but that doesn't mean it's the best.

One place is your healthcare system. Medical tourism is done because it's cheap, not because the quality of care is better. This applies to many countries and not just India. America's healthcare system is extremely expensive. My doctor's visits cost $250 for 15 minutes and I don't see an actual doctor (it's a physicians assistant). Prices are significantly higher in bigger, more popular cities. Compare that to India where a visit to a western-educated doctor cost me about $5. My surgery I had cost $2300 in India. In the US the same surgery would have been $16,000. People do not come to India for the quality of care, it's for the cheap prices.

Another place you need improvement is your traffic system. Look at how many people die just on the Rohtang pass alone because the road can't handle the traffic. I've seen video of how people drive along the road and they're not always concerned with safety. In Amritsar traffic was awful. Men getting mauled under the big trucks because there's no order to the traffic. Women knocked off the back of motorcycles and injured. People don't have to suffer and die like they do. The traffic system could use some serious improvement. (I will say thought that around the embassy and diplomatic areas of Delhi the traffic is significantly better than anywhere else I've been in India. It's not bad to travel through that area at all.)

Pardesi's don't tell you these things because they hate India. We're not bashing you or your country like many perceive we are. Yes, sometimes our tone seems negative because of our own experiences. Our voicing these issues is not a reflection of our thoughts or feelings on the entire country. It's our view of where we see improvement is needed. We speak from experience. While you may feel what is already in place is fine, we see where it could be better.

If you're Indian, share your thoughts with me on how you feel when a non-Indian criticizes something about India. Also, have you been to any other country besides India?
For my pardesi readers, what other things have you noticed that the Indians you interact with don't like to hear you talk about?


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  2. Totally
    relate! As a Canadian of Indian origin, i was ostracised socially by
    urban Indians who equated patriotism with not critiqung what's wrong in
    the country. Is there any surprise we are in the pits right now? This is
    because of denial , beginning with urban Indians ..way back in the

  3. You probably have just scratched the surface of our health care system. The govt supported health care is in utter shambles. Private sector is a little better but genuine private sector is rare in India. Most private operators get to do health care business becoz of their political connections. Health care sector is mired in red tape. Unless it is backed by either a large corporate house or a connected politician, a startup hospital cannot get off to their feet.

    These pseudo-private hospitals get referrals from the public hospital doctors (sometimes the doctors may also be the same). They look especially for insurance supported patients. The entire insurance money is ripped off with connivance from insurance agents and the treatment is often shoddy.

    One such hospital ripped me 22000 rupees from my insurance about three years back and they injected only pain killers to me. Did an awful lot of tests, pretended to misplace the test records and were planning to do all the tests again. I had to employ a lot of guile and pretense to take out the test reports from them. They even did a cancer test on me which freaked the hell out of my mom.

    when i went to another hospital (again private and a very reputed one) they did not even once look at those reports. The doctor examined personally, did not order any tests, prescribed antibiotics and some mild pain killers. The whole thing cost me a mere 500 rupees (and 300 rupees for another visit about 3 months later when i was afraid of being ill again) and 5-6 weeks later I was allright.

    The quality of attention, care and expertise was so vastly different that you would find it hard to believe that both are in the same country.

    There are many more horror stories. you have no idea what a hornet's nest you have put your hands on ... LOL

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  5. Thank you for sharing! It does seem that most Indians feel like they are disrespecting their country if they talk about anything that is wrong with it. It's a custom I have difficulty understanding because here in the US we address these problems publicly and try to fix them. (And I say try because as you know things don't always work out for the better.)

  6. I saw the same thing you mention in Amristar. Too many hospitals were not good. Even the good ones had some element of corruption. I will say though that I think that is because no one stops them. Here in the US doctors have to get approval before ordering expensive tests and they don't want to do the paperwork for the approval just to get a little extra money. So they don't order tests they don't think the patient needs. If it wasn't for that paperwork I'm sure they would do the same thing as Indian doctors.

    One good thing I will say about corrupt Indian doctors is that Fortis Escorts had me take 2 pages worth of tests (about 36 different tests total) and it wound up being a good thing. Now that I'm in the US my doctor has asked me if I was tested for things and I can say yes and show her the results. So I'm saving a fortune. What I paid abut 6000 Rs. for there would have cost me about 20,000 Rs here, maybe more. And that's after insurance! Our healthcare is absurdly expensive. One 15 minute with a doctor cost me about 20,000 Rs.

  7. You have hit the nail on the head. There are enough of chest-thumping, east-or-west-India-is-the-best type people in India. A common trait among them is that they get defensive when you comment on the issues in India and respond with their own preconceived notions of Western societies- too many divorces, no family system, 'loose' (whatever that means) women, everybody always ready for sex, Americans have no culture etc.

    I read your post and within 15 seconds i was thinking about 20 different problems that we have-

    traffic(i didn't accept well paid jobs because going to work would have meant traversing disorganized traffic for hours),

    healthcare(in shambles if you don't have the money to go to expensive doctors),

    law and order(don't think i need to elaborate on that),

    sanitation(i guess you have done a couple of posts on that)

    heck, we don't even protect the cultural heritage that we are so proud of- just visit any historical place in India and see how many "prakash loves munni", "i love shalu" etc you find etched in thousand year old monuments.

    Quite frankly the list is endless and you, my dear, have been very modest :) I was bracing myself for a harsh reality check after the warning in the initial paragraphs :)

    P.S. Healthcare in USA, although very good, is incredibly expensive. I think if you are willing to spend the amount of money that you do in America for your treatment in India you can get the same, may be even better, quality of care in India- only in big cities though.

    Th problem with India is if you don't have the money you are probably not worth the treatment- sad but true.

  8. But how much *more* self-critical can one get than have hundreds of thousands of young people and old people and rich and poor people demonstrating on the streets for weeks against a violent crime, protests that have resulted in the passing of the most severe anti-sexual violence in the Indian Republic's history? The fact is that Indians are a very, very self-critical people, it's just that the issues which outsiders criticize (or perceived outsiders) don't really strike a chord with most Indians, so they treat it as unwarranted criticism.

  9. Hi,

    There is lot of truth in what the guy Tusshar said. I grew up in a middle class household in 1980s. I get amused when children today fret about clothes and mobiles as we had no such concept of choice. There was long waiting list for telephones connections and believe it or not for scooters. We led a comfortable life, but not lavish in any sense. I attended pvt school and clearly understood the difference between us and my affluent class mates. Even with money there was very little you could buy as there were no brands. So the rich and poor were both handicapped.

    We Indians complain very little. Everything from education to medical care is considered a privilege. That is why do not check the nitty gritties, because if we do someone else will grab the opportunity. Coupled with the fact that there is general lack of accountability and corruption everywhere. Indian medical practices emerged in an environment where access to medical equipment was less. Therefore, doctors still believe they know the best and act accordingly. It is only now with increased prosperity, people are demanding accountability and quality.

    About traffic, most cities and towns were never meant for modern traffic. Even in Delhi, which perhaps has the widest roads among all big cities, roads are providing inadequate. Ten years ago, nobody thought that there would be so many cars on the roads. However, the metro train is doing very well. The future lies in encouraging people to use public transport more

  10. This is one part of Indian culture I have great difficulty with.
    As an 'outsider' if you criticize ANYTHING about India (even if well meaning) instantly most Indians will get overly emotional and say the most inane, illogical & untrue things like-
    "You hate Indians!" or "You hate India!"
    I get so tired of this, it does not make sense & is downright ridiculous.
    This stems from a deep seated cultural belief that questioning is somehow 'wrong' and 'disrespectful'.
    I really don't know how to get around this erroneous belief system that somehow just 'discussing' problems or issues is BAD.
    Very well written & tactful API!

  11. I don't think the protests & demonstrations against a violent crime in India are necessarily 'self- critical'- more like 'justifiable outrage' at absolute depravity & the lack of law enforcement in general.

  12. The protests were a denunciation of "absolute depravity" as many of the signs held by the protesters showed "Don't tell me what to wear, teach your son not to rape", for example). The protests have generated huge amounts of self-reflection about misogyny in India, patriarchy and, yes, law and order. All part of self-criticism. But this is a process for those within, what outsiders think is besides the fact, even if interesting.

  13. Tushar, as a former resident of New Delhi (where I worked with and for Indians, not expats) and Manhattan, I agree with much of what you write, but take issue with a few points. First, just being picky about semantics here, the word you are looking for is "servants" not "orderlies." Orderlies is a military term. And, right there, you have demonstrated a huge difference between more developed countries where there is a more equitable distribution of wealth, education and other opportunities, and India. In the US, we don't have "servants" unless you are filthy rich. Further, Chandigarh is one of the most affluent cities in India, and cannot be compared with the typical Indian village or town.

    Also, you say that "India" (although India as a country did not exist until the British came along) had one of the world's highest GDPs until British colonialism. Not at all true. This is yet another piece of Indian propaganda. All India's woes are because of those big, bad white people who came and ruined everything. Using that line of reasoning, then we too in the US - after all, we are also a former British colony - should be in the same state of affairs as India. Poverty is not just structural, but also cultural. The Industrial Revolution completely bypassed India, as it did all countries where labor was cheap but capital was expensive. The productivity of the UK in the mid-1800s was greater than the productivity of India today. What India did have was raw materials and cheap labor, which served the increasingly industrialized British empire.

    All of this, of course, is a matter of that was then, this is now. And now the problem is that although, yes, India does have an emerging mid to upper middle class, that is growing and getting stronger, and education is spreading like never before in India, the problem is sheer numbers. There are just far too many people in India who are "have nots." And I don't see the govt. or the upper classes, like yourself, really trying to do anything about it. Mark my words: within 25 years, India will have its own version of the Russian, French or Chinese revolutions.

  14. Yes, sort of. Indians are critical about certain things, but often these things relate to appearance, power and prestige. So, Indian parents get upset that their son/daughter doesn't want to be an engineer, because oh my What would the neighbors/relatives/shopkeeper say?! instead of thinking that yes, India does not need anymore ill-trained engineers for non-existent jobs and that maybe what India needs is qualified primary school teachers and public health workers, because you know, those careers are just not acceptable for MY son/daughter." And so it goes, Indians don't care if large parts of Delhi's population regularly come down with typhoid but they sure as hell do care if their children get married to someone of their own choosing!

  15. But I think, Indians would be the first to agree that it is silly and oppressive and things have to change. Ever watched '3 Idiots'? Or Aamir Khan's TV show 'Satyameva Jayate'? Every society has an innate understanding of its own faults. But who makes the critique and in what spirit is the deciding factor. I mean I can sit here and say that Texas, Kansas and Oklahoma have a gun violence problem and there are lots of people there who would agree but my opinions, while sincere, don't matter as much as the internal discussion taking place within the United States about these issues. Anyway, I think I've made my views known. Don't have much more to say on this issue.

  16. Aaabe chutiyoo....debate-discussion bahut kar liya...aab bin bole kuch kar k dikha...nahi toh asihi..aur koi gori apni jhat hila teh hila teh ayegi aur hum log ke upar thu mar k jayegi.....hehh... Problem of India -> Inteligent peoples are full of doubts..while stupids are full of confidence...

  17. Aaabe chutiyoo....debate-discussion bahut kar liya...aab bin bole kuch kar k dikha...nahi toh asihi..aur koi gori apni jhat hila teh hila teh ayegi aur hum log ke upar thu mar k jayegi.....hehh... Problem of India -> Inteligent peoples are full of doubts..while stupids are full of confidence...

  18. I'm not frustrated actually. This post is simply an observation I've made. Many times on this blog I've praised the accomplishments both India and Amritsar have made. However, as an Indian, you would not see the same side of this as a pardesi who is heavily involved with India is.

    I never went to India in an eat, pray, love mindset. I went out of necessity to advance my relationship. So I wouldn't understand that mentality either.

    What I do understand is that it's attitudes like your's ("Do I care that some cities in India (Amritsar for instance) look like a filth-hole?")
    that keep India from being as great as it could be overall. Thankfully many Indians do not have that same attitude and are working towards making their cities better. I like the changes I have seen and have praised them here.

    Also, I visited Chandigarh a few times. It is almost completely different from other places I went (Amritsar, Jalahndar, Delhi, Agra, and more). I have family there and life for them is very different just like you mentioned. But, you also have to be realistic. Even in your comment you show you realize this is not how the majority live. Sure, you lived fine and you're not worried about anyone else, you stated that as well. That isn't my nature. I don't want to hear multiple daily reports of women being victimized and burned, beaten and raped, or girl babies being killed. I don't want the average of 7 people killed on the trains in Mumbai to stay so high. I want to see and encourage better for India. I do care.

    I care about people and life. It's why I started this blog. So that other pardesi's could see and read about things that could happen. Things you won't see in a tourist guide. While my story is not the same as everyone else, many girls have benefited from it.

    As for Manhattan, you described exactly why I wouldn't live in those type of areas. Too many times people come here thinking those are the cities of dreams. They have no idea how big America is and that we have many other cities with much better standards of living and just as much potential. My husband is included as one of these types. He had no clue that the eastern coast states had cities and IT industries and good jobs. He didn't understand the cost of living factor here whereas in NY it may take you $100,000 just to survive, in places like Virginia you can thrive off of $50,000 a year. Just like foreigners can never understand all of India, Indians can't understand all about countries they did not grow up in. It's up to each of us to do our part and share information and resources with each other to help each other. That's all I'm doing.

    I doubt anyone comes to my blog thinking I have the only information about India and that it all applies to India. At least I hope not. I've worked with my commenters to try and be sure I don't use the word "India" for things that may only apply to Amritsar, etc just to try and be more accurate. I'm sure you realized that though. Maybe for this post, I should have included the words "chest thumping" because those were the Indians I was referring to. I just think that term has negative connotations. Maybe you haven't had the misfortune of encountering these types but there are people out there who would swear India is perfect and no other country could compare. All things non-Indian are evil, to be avoided, etc. I've met quite a few and they are just as ridiculous as the redneck mentality you mentioned. I live and know many rednecks, none of them thump their chests like those Indians do.

  19. Good point. I do see the self-critical aspect in a lot of Indians but only toward themselves and not the country. I was so happy to hear of the protests. It is about time people stood up and took back the India they believe exists. People now realize that the India they grow up knowing (the docile, happy and colorful India) can't continue to exist with such hostility and horror happening so frequently. Other countries have been through similar difficulties in the past and when the people made such an outcry, things got better.

    I know this blog is predominantly about India but I am a human rights promoter. I would say the same things about any other country. I truly believe that to be great (either as a person or a nation) you need to face your problems head on and do something to make them better. I love seeing people protest to stop the anti-female violence (rapes and feoticide). It needs to happen.

    I appreciate your last sentence. I hadn't thought about it that way. In my Indian family it's not taken hard when someone tells you something is wrong. They invited change and welcomed ideas to make their lives better. It is one of the things I loved about them. We all seemed to work together fairly well on most issues. I wrote about the ones we didn't but I feel it's only natural to have some tension when living in close quarters with so many different personalities. But, as I've mentioned previously on this blog, my circumstances were not the same as everyone else.

  20. I'm confused. On Cyn's blog you mentioned growing up completely different than circumstances than what you say here.

    Anyway, I have noticed that in their daily lives Indians complain very little. BUT, I feel like there should be more complaining. I understand that you're not raised to feel entitled to sanitary or quality medical conditions no matter where you go, you don't feel entitled to being able to walk down the street safely, etc. I saw the culture of fear for myself. No one questions a doctor because he is supposedly educated/knowledgeable. BUT you should! It's your life, you should never put it completely in the hands of someone who only wants your money.

    You should not have to fear walking down the street to the store. It should not be the norm to need constant protection by brothers or husbands, etc. just to survive. No woman should have to hide herself in her own home just because another man comes outside on his terrace. Yes, I saw things like that. No young girl should be ostracized for tutoring younger boys in her home with her parents present (the girl I'm referring to was openly called a slut by many neighbors for doing so!). Indians need to be outraged more. Her mother should be able to yell in the streets to idiots who continue to call her daughter a slut. If everything is a privilege, should this girl not be afforded the opportunity to feel privileged about how intelligent she is? Should she not get to enjoy knowing that she is smart enough to tutor other children and do something good in her community? Because that's not what's happening. Instead she can't leave her house outside of going to school because local men tease her and more. She is a hostage in her own home because no one fights for her right to be smart.

    I'm sorry. I probably shouldn't have gone off on that tangent but seeing things like that while living in India make me mad. And yes I fought for her. I went off on a few Indian men who were being jerks to her over having boys in her home. She was supervised! Sorry. I'm going to quit. I can't talk about her situation without being angry. And she's not the only situation I have seen that more Indians should be angry about. (But just for the record her father was a lawyer in the high courts in both Punjab and Delhi, they were an upper middle class family.)

    While I can appreciate that life is not like this everywhere in India, it should not be like that ANYWHERE in India. More people need to protest and fight for these issues to be dealt with.

    I agree with you on the traffic. It's clear the roads are not designed for the increasing amount of vehicles on them. I saw new roads being built, flyovers, etc. and it's helping. Even the US has similar issues sometimes and has to continually build new roads. It's a constant battle here as well.

    My whole point in this post is that when someone says something about India, Indians should not take it as a personal offense. People are not attacking when they make these comments, at least not the pardesi's writing these blogs, but it is taken that way. Then we are attacked personally for simply stating an issue. It becomes hostile and volatile when it should not have.

    You make some good points about how India is advancing. It is, I see change happening every day and it's delightful. These changes are only coming about because people are willing to talk about them, work out a solution and take action.

    You weren't around for it but I posted a blog last year and it was followed by someone in a high up position in India. They wrote to me about it and as a result I saw them do something to fix the situation. So while my blog may be difficult for some to read, I know that someone is out there listening and things can change for the better. So my theory of addressing the issue head on works. I see similar things happening in many other blogs - most written by Indians. It is a good thing.

  21. Thank you! I haven't figured out how to get around it with anyone but hubby. We don't have the best solution for working through these things but he's slowly learning that it's okay to talk about problems. One Indian at a time right? Lol.

  22. You're on a roll! This is well stated. Priorities are skewed based on what the neighbors might think. It's a concept I find hard to grasp.

  23. I would just like to state that guns are not the only problem. Most of America also has a problem with accepting and dealing with the mental health issues that caused some of those shootings. There is also the problem which we have been fighting for too long of extremist groups who promote hate. Gun control is simply not an effective answer by itself. It hasn't worked in the past, things got worse after our last gun control endeavors. More needs to be thought of and done in light of these situations.

  24. I've done more than a few posts on sanitation and healthcare lol. I think traffic may be the only topic I haven't outright flipped out over despite being run over by a scooter in Delhi and hit by a bicycle rickshaw lol. Somehow I found traffic fun because I was on the back of a motorcycle. Stupid girl genes make things like that exciting for an American. :P

    I think I started off this post ready to give someone a harsh reality check but then I didn't want to get lynched for it. So I tamed it down a bit.

    Our healthcare here is outrageous! I admit, I go to the best private hospital around and I purposely pay more but that's only because I have to so I can get good medical care. I pay $400 for one 15 minute visit when the typical going rate in my area is only$175. I avoid my local hospital because the care is so poor even though their prices are high too. I think I could start a separate blog on American healthcare. It's ridiculous how they keep raising the prices of services and the machines they use are really overpriced. I'm not sure I could find $400 doctors in Amritsar though. Lol. I did pay 1 lakh for services at one hospital and it was horrible. Probably the worst experience I've ever had in my life. (I blogged about that a while back lol.) I much prefer the 10 Rs. fake doctor who made house calls. It was 20 Rs. if he gave me a shot. I got better care, he had the best bedside manner and he never tried to cheat me lol. It's too bad I can't sponsor him on a visa here because he would be my doctor for life. I really missed him when I caught the flu last month. It only takes 1 shot from him and you're cured and I would have gladly flew back over there just for that shot if the idea of doing so wouldn't have been absurd lol.

  25. Hi,

    What I meant, it was life was comfortable, but not lavish. Lack of choice meant, we were ignorant. Ignorance is definitely bliss. We ought to complain about services. Today, the people who grew up traveling by trains are travelling by aircraft. Naturally, they compare and demand good services in railways.

    The new generation is naive, but they are devoid of cultural baggage which is very good. The New Delhi anti rape protests was like someone had exploded a social bomb. The pent up fury was against all, men, police, government who have failed to deliver. For the first time, everyone young, old, men and women participated. No one made any excuses for the culprits or try to defame the girl. It made me think whether we should tolerate corruption and eve teasing, since it has existed since a long time. Are our children, girls and daughters would continue to suffer because of this. Lot of such social movements are going to take place, but the only fear is these should not get in the wrong hands.

  26. Yes, I have seen those movies and it's good that people are starting to talk about that issue, but the reality is, it won't change for a long, long time. My post-grad students were for the most part, compelled to study engineering or commerce when most of them want work in creative fields. Many of them told me that their parents insisted they study sciences because...."what would the neighbors say" or "what would your cousins say?" given as the reasons. I worked as a consultant with primary schools in north India, and all the parents want their children to be doctors/scientists/engineers--not a single parent that I met with said "I want my son/daughter to do what he/she loves" or whatever their greatest aptitude is.

  27. Everything you wrote I already know. I have an extensive background in history and historical/socio linguistics. However, thanks for the overview as I'm sure it's informative for other readers. You missed my overarching point. Too many people. India had too many people in the past as well which helped keep labor costs low. Yes, the British were unscrupulous-that's what colonizers do. The true British colony of India lasted less than 100 years, less than the time they had the north American colonies. The British took advantage of and exploited the existing societal structure in the subcontinent.

    You are absolutely wrong to say that "Indians admire(d) the Mughals." Where on earth did you get that idea? You need to spend some time in Rajasthan where my husband is from. Hello, Aurangzeb?

    Back to my main point: the Indian middle class is growing, but the "under" class far outnumbers any other group and it is also growing. When I said "India will have a revolution", I did not literally mean that there will be some kind of Communist revolt. I mean that there will be major social upheaval and discord, and the problem for India, unlike other countries in transition, is that there are so many people, and not such a strong central government, as in China. Please see this article,, one of many about the social problems that India and China will face due to surplus men. Please also don't forget the water problem. As someone from Chandigarh, you must be disturbed by the gender imbalance, no? Have you not thought about the consequences of this for India? Have you not asked yourself why females are so discriminated against and what can be done about it? Are you intending to return to your country after your studies in the US, to try to make it a better place? Would you be willing to become a public health worker in India, or set up a clinic in a rural area? Or do you plan to try to land a cushy job in America?

    I no longer live in India, I am in PNG, a whole other world. Yet while in India I had exposure to a wide range of people from different economic strata, and certainly was not limited to upper-crust urban Indians. so I do know of what I speak. Interesting side note: my nanny in Delhi, an Indian lady of Nepali origin, refused to ever work for an Indian family. This is the same story I heard from a couple of other domestic workers. Wonder why? Indians will claim that it's because gori pay more, which is partially true, but the main reason: we treat them with respect, and as people doing a job, not as non-entities who are there at our beck and call.
    If you haven't read White Tiger, you should. It does a pretty good job of capturing the attitudes of contemporary Delhi.

  28. Tushar, appreciate your long, insightful response. Going forward, just keep your silence, and reflect on these words: "Katherine Mayo, drain inspector". Not applicable to the writer of this blog but definitely applicable to some of the commenters. Their words and outlook tells us more about them than about India.

  29. Interesting. Most of the 'India is the best place on earth' people I've encountered are trolls on my blog (I think they're mostly nutcases from all over the internet who might not even be Indian).

    Most of the Indians I've interacted with in person complain about India far more than expats. I can completely understand that because they're citizens of the country (while expats aren't and can pack up and leave for their own country where they don't have to encounter the problems they are currently encountering in India).

    Like anytime we're stuck in a traffic jam in Bombay (and there are LOTS), you can expect someone to bring up how the financial capital of India (hence, lots of tax revenue) has such poor infrastructure--> leads to complaints about corruption --> leads to all around disgust with politicians. I don't think about it too much--I'm sitting in the back on my iphone or ipad, the driver is driving the car, the air conditioning is on, the windows are up etc. Apart from the inconvenience of wasting time, I'm like 'meh, whatever.'

  30. Hmmm...I've heard the India is great bit from people offline too. I think the trolls are a little more aggressive with it. My husband is torn on the subject. Some days he talks about how great India is and others he's talking about the corruption, etc. Of course, he hasn't been out of India long so it may take him time to process it all.

  31. I think if he were to live in the US/ Canada (or any other country where tax revenue is actually put to good use) then he'll truly appreciate it!

    I've also heard a lot of urban people complain about the voting process--like their vote doesn't count at all. One really jaded person told me that he's never voted in an election because the results are determined by villagers who are given booze and saris (by various politicians as incentive) anyway.