conversations, humor, laugh to keep from crying, life, parenting

How to spot an Indian. Apparently.

In search of bowls, the kiddo and I headed off to Bed, Bath, and Beyond. [Which, as a side-note does anyone sell a set of bowls these days? They seem to only come huge head-sized individual bowls, or as part of an ensemble set with plates, tea cups, and the like.]

After we finished up we headed next door to PetSmart to check out the puppies, parrots, hamsters, and other fun animals on display. Waleed loved blowing kisses to the fish, waving to the dogs in ‘doggy day camp’ and seeing live the creatures he reads about every day. After a bit we saw some sales people in the distance and a small group of people around them, so we walked over to find a thin black snake sliding around an employees shoulders and arms while the other cleaned out his cage. T’was then the parent next to me decided to strike up conversation. I’ll call him Bob.

Bob: Your boy likes the snakes?
Me: Yes, he loves all animals.
Bob: How many do you have?
Me: Animals?
Bob: No, snakes.
Me: Snakes? How many snakes do I have?
Bob: Waiting expectantly.
Me: None. I have no snakes.
Bob: Wait. Where are you from? Originally?
Me: Sigh. My parents are from Pakistan.
Bob: Ohhh okay, never mind then. I thought you were from India. They love snakes there you see. They like charming snakes, play flutes to them. That’s why I thought I’d ask. I’m from Brazil. We have lots of snakes but we don’t like them the way Indians do.

Though its been a while, I’ve had enough conversations like this, to not be surprised at the ability of people to assume, and yet, well, color me confused. Wait, what’s that? Why yes, I am laughing to keep from crying.

18 thoughts on “How to spot an Indian. Apparently.”

  1. Why are Americans (seemingly) so dumb? I was recently on a business trip to the States and was flabbergasted at the ignorant questions people asked.

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  2. HA! is this stuff real?!! And in PetSmart, no less. It always had an “open minded” feel to it, what with all the wildlife just wandering around 😉 Seriously though, it is so tragically hilarious. Glad you're documenting it all for us, but bummed that you have to go thru it!

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  3. Susan, see there you go! LOL 🙂

    Mezba, I'm sure dumbness is a universal trait existing in all cultures, classes, and creeds. . . what can you do? 🙂

    Muslim Wife, I'm trying to give him the benefit of the doubt but even if his only exposure to Indians were some cheesy movie he saw a long time ago that involved snake charming, the fact that he thought it polite to ask. . . Sigh.

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  4. Aisha, you handled the conversation much more gracefully than I would have. I would not have let up my place of origin that easily. I would have told them I'm from whatever state I was born in. White people don't know all their roots/ancestry/origins, why are brown people and actually all people of color expected to know their entire lineage?

    On another note, I do think some Americans are pretty dumb. When I went overseas with my husband, they assumed we were British, because we “seemed worldly and polite.”

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  5. Wow and sigh. Sorry you keep encountering this kind of people. You'd think the guy would know better … I'm sure as a Brazilian living in the US, he must encounter his own share of prejudice.

    Natalie

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  6. {face palm}

    Am I wrong for being relieved that this Bob isn't white/Anglo this time? LOL… They so often are. We caught a break on this one, Brazilians have to claim him 😉

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  7. You should have said you owned three boas and two rattlesnakes! You clearly disappointed the poor Brasilian. You should also have asked him how is his salsa school doing these days, because your snakes are bored and a bit of salsa would so entertain them…

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  8. Mrs F this person was not a traditionally Anglo-Ameriacn person asking the question, but I gave up the roots because well, I knew it would only prolong the conversation not to. As for dumbness, I really think its exists in all cultures, creeds, etc to varying degrees, just the nature of being human and wanting to compartemantelize people into boxes for ease of “understanding”.

    I, yes!

    Natalie, yeah– in his defense he was ignorant but very very friendly– I know he didn't intend rudeness, just terribly uninformed.

    Tracy, LOL– that's true, this is a first in eight years of documenting it on my blog 🙂

    Mina, ROFL— thanks for that belly laugh- Awesome idea! Wish I could go back and say it!!!! D'OH!

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  9. Good thing I've this here keyboard, because I'm simultaneously speechless and wanting to say that I'm sorry you encountered such brazen ignorance yesterday.

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  10. Oh, for the love of all things holy – yes, I know, there are those people in this world who open their mouths when they should really just remain silent or smile broadly. I have met more than my fair share.

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  11. Kate, LOL the only person not embarassed was him 🙂

    Kris, I honestly think they meant well— when people are insulting to insult you can usually feel it in their tone/demeanor. But yes, ignorant to the nth degree!

    Zee, lol, thanks for sharing that 🙂

    Woman, yes. only after encountering it for a few time can you truly understand the sheer number of such folks who glide blissfully through the earth.

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