Thursday, March 17, 2005

Answer and help!!

I am gonna make this really short.
Ok, I have a question.This is for one of my assignments that I am working on right now.
When you think of India, as a country, what sort of an image does it invoke in your mind? Let me make that clearer.Usually, When we think of Japan, we think of technology and when we think of Italy, we think of fashion?? So, what do people relate India with? This could be a positive or a negative image.

Also, If any of you (esp. those abroad) has any idea of what foreigners think of India, do let me know.

It would be great if you could also add a line on whatever makes you think, India stood for 'that' particular thing.

I just thought it would be great to have some feedback through my blog apart from other information that I have collected. All help/answers deeply acknowledged. :)


Eroteme said...

India? Hmmm.
I suppose it depends on my mood. Like now, I am sitting back after a good meal and India brings to me lush green forests with women walking down the mud path with bright vermillion on their forehead. It makes me nod my head to the rolling beats of the drums in Kerala and the men rotating in the air with their drums in Manipur. It makes me smell the wetness in the air after the first downpour and lick my lips thinking about achari lasoon (a garlic pickle prepared in a traditional Punjabi fashion). It brings to mind the austere tones in temples and extended nasal renditions from a mosque, piercing the air and carried forth by the birds which fly off the nearby tree. I love the "yennai-thecha-pinnals" and oil baths too. :-)

Now if I am on the road driving, India brings to my mind dusty roads, inconsiderate drivers, no sense of responsibilities, poverty, nimiety of people, heat, filth, pathetic infrastructure, corruption, complacency (in the negative sense), disease, etc.

When I spoke to people visiting India for the first time, this is what they had as an impression of India.

Taj Mahal, fakirs, rope tricks, turbans, poverty, spiritualism, tantra, yoga, gurus, elephants, greenery and quiet.

Not many of them expected cows and buffaloes on roads nor such traffic nor such abject poverty. Lot of them though that India being an English colony for ages, people would be very well versed with English and English would be far more prevalent than it is now. I had to tell them that the British were not wanted in our country (then) and not learning the language was probably one way of saying get lost!!!

Anonymous said...

When I think of India I think of lots of sweaty, smelly people crammed into a stadium to watch a game of cricket. I think of slightly dirty streets full of chaotic traffic going every which way, of old wise men sitting around street corners giving advice to younger people.

Why? I watch a lot of cricket being an Australian, so being mad cricket fans is the first thing I think of when someone mentions India.

Chakra Sampath said...

First thing that flashes in my mind is the tricolour and the people. Just general people walking on the roads, working at the farms, generally chating people.

Many of the foreigners related India to Taj Mahal. For them, India is Taj & Taj is India.

Lot of ppl mention the crowds when they talk abt India.

However, one person summed up nicely, "India is full of colours - be it in clothes, walls or anywhere.. variety of colour, turn to anyside in India, you'll find a beautiful collage".

Mo said...

Gasp! Aren't you generalising now? My absolutely from the heart opinion:

Japan: Smiling asian looking faces; People.

Italy: Beautiful accents and smiling faces; People

India; Loads of categories of people; swarming all over the place but attractive nevertheless. People.

This might help. I chatted up with a lot of folk from all over the world in my early web days. Almost all americans seemed to consider Indian men sex starved. People from certain asian countries like Korea consider India a great educational investment. It is also looked upon as a technically mobile nation. Reason? I live here!

Not generalising. Never do that. The image of India is something 'they' and 'us' are in no position to accurately picture.

piggy said...

I have on more than one occasion have convinced that people (strangers in trains) in India DO NOT travel in elephants. And in many occasions not.

And the next most common question is about calcutta. Because that is a place they know much. (Thanks to Mother Theresa.)

They do consider India as a technology high cheap labor nation. (thanks to all the offshore transfer of jobs).

Yoga and vegeterianism follows that.

Vani Viswanathan said...

ok, so let's see...

intelligent people (singaporeans highly acknowledge indians' intelligence)

BOLLYWOOD (really really high craze for it here!)


beautiful women(i got a south african friend who keeps telling me indian women are the most beautiful ones in the world!)

the concept of match making and arranged marriage(my friends are surprised - as one of them asked today, "so your parents have found a guy for you?" lol)

Taj Mahal
Roti prata (paratha)
Little India and its bangles

hmm...will let you know more when i can remember them...basically they think singapore is conservative and they think india hasn't woken up yet to try to be modern.

Sreekesh Menon said...

We think of India, we think of the world. we got it all here, the rich, the poor, the good, the bad, the beautiful, the most beautiful, the rivers, the mountians, the technology, the art, the religion, the ocean, the sea, the weapons, the spirit, the heart.

S m i t h a said...

/me work with american colleagues
/me tell u what them think
/in order

1) cheap (but quality) labour. most know that we are a developing nation with poverty/corruption/no-traffic-rules in hand.
2) some look at indians like they'll crush u anytime bcos someone they knew was laid-off bcos of an indian immigrant. (1 & 2 leads to almost zilch social life between indians & americans. mind you, they do appreciate talent. just add a bit of *americanisation* & they'll buy it!)
3) taj mahal/maharaja/elephants
4) very spicy food
5) yoga/spiritualism/kamasutra
6) they are complately zapped by the concept of `arranged marriage` & `living with parents` & `cultural ethics`. it serves as a good conversation starter though!
7) most think/know indians look good. (this guy, saw an Aish interview on CNN or something and went yapp-yapp about her all day. i forwarded him some pictures of her and we are good friends now! Although im cross at him for forwarding it to all other americans and taking credit for it.)

/me hope helped

wookie said...

Multi-faceted,multi-cultural,multi lingual mania.metros/cities vs villages.developing vs backward.beautiful land/culture vs ugly poverty/corruption.It represents extremes and truly is colourful.

wookie said...

Multi-faceted,multi-cultural,multi lingual mania.metros/cities vs villages.developing vs backward.beautiful land/culture vs ugly poverty/corruption.It represents extremes and truly is colourful.

JaganLee said...

For a foreigner, India means TajMahal. They(most of them) always think that -India means dirty roads(like the one u see in Jaipur/Bihar), and cattle is still the primary mode of commutation.
-Indians always wear a turban, and most of us are snake charmers..;-)
-Indian women wear the attire, which NorthIndian women wear which also covers their face..donno what u call it. is it purda?

kaybay said...

when i think of india, i think of that movie a little princess, which incase you havent seen shows india as a really perfect rain forest sort of place, and very colorful.

MrGonSings said...

Jungles, mountains, tigers, elephants, beautifully ornamented temples located in awesome natural surroundings, crowded cities, fakhirs, dancing snakes, cows being venerated even on the most aparted country roads, baths in the Ganghes river, funeral pyres, struggle of classes and against the british opressors, girls in colorful saris and men wearing turbans... more or less all of that came to my mind when I tought of India as a child (pretty much influenced by documentaries and adventure comics reading)
As I grew up, India became more of a continent, than a country, to my eyes and the list above got complemented with names like Tagore, Naipul and memorable political leaders such as Mahatma Gandhi and Indira Gandhi (the first memorable and unrepeatable; the second an extraordinarily strong and intelligent woman, in my opinion)...
Gurus, foreign hippies wondering for the sense of life, kamasutra, the most surrealistic pantheon of Gods one can imagine, Sidharta wanderings and revelations, "Nuclear heating zone" and conflicts over Cashimire also added to the list, over the years...
Today, I view India undoubtedly as one of the future top-ten leading countries of the world. Still the greatest challenges to overcome poverty, but you got a population growing at an incredible rate; enormous efforts to extend education and basic sanitary systems to all possible corners of the country; one of the most significant armys of the world; an estrategic position that will do no nothing but increase your already decisive geo-political importance; a non stopping development of infraestructure to communicate that huge country; a highly educated and technically especialized base of professionals; an immense and more than affordable labor force and you know what else... the best rice in the world and a colorful, tasteful and amazingly diverse cooking!!!!
I once heard a saying that goes something like this: "There is nothing worse than living an uneventful life in uneventful times"... I don't think you will have that much time to get bored in India over the coming years.
On more personal grounds, since I was a teenager, I think indian girls have the most beautiful eyes and dark, black hair in the world... (Guys are also very nice looking, but I'll stick to my old traditional preferences, he, he..)
Hope this helps, Anu.

Twin-Gemini said...

When I was in Madras, the only image that I had about India was that of a simple minded chennaiite. Madras was India to me at that time. But only after coming to the US and interacting with people from several parts of the country, have I really understood India more. My interest in learning about other languages, cultures and people from other parts improved a lot. Now the image that comes up in my mind is that of Unity. Even though each of us have a different culture and most probably, a different language, over here every Indian is a desi - not a madrasi or a bangalorean or a delhiite - everybody is a desi and hindi is usually the common language.

Off late, the image that comes up in anyone's mind about India is the phenomenal growth and software/IT outsourcing. I sometimes get the image of cool cell phones, new cars and all the booming industries.

People of India are related with software/good communication skills (usually)/sometimes unclean habits/intelligence.

To many an uneducated foreigner(about world affairs) India still is filled with Snake Charmers, elephants on the roads. To the learned foreigner it is filled with Software Engineers and good educational institutions everywhere.

Off late, India really stands for progress in most of the popular sectors. Economic progress has been in the forefront for quite some years.

Sean said...

Wow, when I think of India, I think of outsourced customer service telecommunication. I'm in New York, so when I call a free customer service number, I almost totally expect to speak with an Indian woman specifically trained to deal with me, and disguise her accent (an Indian would consider it "talking like an American" as opposed to covering an Indian accent). I also envision her doing it for exponentially less money than what her American equivalent would earn.

I also think of Bollywood movies and the safe haven and asylum for the Dalai Llama.

Me said...


Amrita said...

Culture, integrity, politics, bollywood, cricket are few of the things which come to my mond when I think of India. Wonder that would be of any help to your dissertation.Orientalism maybe.

Anupama Viswanathan said...

Thanks sooooo much guys!! This has been wonderful response and it's been a great help! I wish I could write a response to each one of your comments, but I am dreadfully running short of time - I have my deadline for Monday! Thanks a real real lot again! :)

Indian Voter said...


You can't expect anything else from a political fanatic like me.

Sriram said...

Tis easy to get carried away by the question you've asked and rant about cricket, taj mahal and say a number of things. But then, take a step back and look at all the answers. I'm sure each person would give you a difference answer.

So, do you get the point? I say "Unity admist Diversity". No, it is not my point to quote this cliche for some stupid reason, but look through the answers and you'll agree with me.

P.S : R u vani's sis? got here thro another blog, but just curios. My first comments on your blog. You might find more and get annoyed later. peace. Drop by if possible to my blog. I've got something cookin for journo's.

Vani Viswanathan said...

yup sriram,
anu is mah sis!!! :)

Kay said...

Thought process....closing my eyes....

india, i think of chennai, chennai i think of saravana bavan, saravana bavan i think of pongal vadai ........aaahhhhhhh

lemme do it again....
India, chennai again, now it spencer plaza, spencer plaza "aaaahhh watia a beautiful gales"

now seriousa think pannuren ma....
India - conservative society, values family setup, culture, temples.... ya thats it..

Anupama Viswanathan said...

Indian voter - what you said is an important point!

Sriram, thanks for landing here..and welcome! yes, I am vani's sis, does that end your curiosity? :). I shall definitely visit your blog. While I say that, I will also tell you that I am pretty pathetic with the way I visit other people's blogs, I have nothing but my schedule to blame for that. But I will surely visit yours soon.

Kay, are u hungry?? ;)

Eroteme, Anonymous, Chakra, mo, piggy, vani, sreekesh, smitha, wookie, jaganlee, kaybay, mrgonsings, twin-gemini, me, amrita ( i hope i haven't missed anyone)- thanks yet again!

Sriram said...

Thanks! that does clear up things. As far as I know, you and your sis are the only siblings blogging. Might be interesting to see if there are any other siblings who blog. Meanwhile, nice to know you are lazy! Guess that's what engineering does to us people. :D

Narayanan Venkitu said...

My friend Andy thinks:

India is weird. Too congested, No rules, not organized, but Interesting.

Me -

Corrupted, Polluted, Living in Old glory, forgetting its strengths, unable to mix old and new, superstitious...!!

Positives - Hard working, Naturally Intelligent.

Prabu Karthik said...

In India, the underlying theme is bundle of contradictions.

You can find cell phones, luxury cars, zooming sensex, high rise buildings.

You will also find starvation deaths, useless administration machinery.

Very nice people but very corrupt political system.

Anupama Viswanathan said...

Narayanan - Thanks for dropping by and that is a very concise and very very valid assessment of this country!Thank you.:)

Prabu Karthik- Welcome!:) Two things i really agree with you - Zooming sensex and useless administration machinery! Thanks again!