Monday, July 20, 2009

Since 2006, i come to US in summer for 4-6 months. In 06 it was LA but from 07 to date i have been visiting Bay Area. i have stayed in Mountain View, Sunnyvale, N Mathilda and now in River Oaks. All these places have large desi population. in summer parents come for visit.

I go for walk everyday and like to take different routes so that i can visit different areas. I come across many daily walkers,Desi,SE Asians, Latinos and Whites. What has surprised me is the different behavior of these walkers when we cross each other.

SE Asians never ever make Eye contact or attempt to greet or talk. Now this is easy to understand. May be elderly SEA wont know English well and would hesitate to initiate anything. Younger ones may greet or mumble something.

Latinos and Whites would almost always make eye contact and would Greet,smile and ask 'How you doing?' or some variation of it. If he is walking his/her dog then they may even enter into small talk.

Its desi who surprises me. They would not make eye contact in the first place. Eyes staring straight ahead or down like Lakshman facing Sita. No greeting, No conversation. If you cant make eye contact then its difficult to greet them as well. Its difficult to understand this.Same people if we meet in Mumbai Nana Nani Park will take out their entire family history and would rattle out names of mutual friends, relatives, neighbours relatives,children's friends,Schoolmates etc etc. May find out in few days enough to bring marriage proposal. But in US. nothing. Even Gujus and Punjabis-normally very outgoing,gregarious people. Only exception is when they are with their Grandchildren.Then it's easy to greet,smile, talk, the works.

More surprising is the behaviour of Desi younger generation. I have crossed them on N Mathilda on Bus stop where they are waiting for Bus to take them to Lockheed Martin. Or they are walking to their parked car or to Sunnyvale station. They would avoid making any eye contact or any greeting. Are we so ill mannered that we wont smile and greet another human being? Why we cant do something which comes naturally to White Americans? In india we are taught to greet ,Say Namaste. Ram Ram,Jai mata di, jai shree Krishna, Hare Krishna, Sat Shri Akal,jai Jinendra, and Salam Alaekum are normal greeting when we meet even stranger in India. Is it poor upbringing or Inferiority Complex ? Are we so scared in this foreign land that we would like to avoid all contact with strangers even if he is Desi.? May be we will say something which will harm us in future?. These Mexicans-many have no papers - are so friendly.

May be this is the cause for targeting Indians in almost all parts of world. Others may perceive us as snobs or weak. If you are not friendly with people how are you going to assimilate? Assimilation doesnt mean we have to give up our culture or food habits.No minority in US has done that. But by assimilating others could introduce their culture,cuisine to Americans. we are after 40 yrs, and lots of progress,are still outsiders. Its time to change this. Otherwise we will be known by few individuals personal achievement but not for work done by Desi community.

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