By Ritesh(R) Chugh & Ripan(R) Sethi
In this ranting article about quirky Desi (loosely used to represent people from the Indian subcontinent) traits exhibited by our fellow Indian countrymen in Australia, RR might appear to be playing devil’s advocate or ranting but their intentions are to inform and hopefully bring about a change in demeanour, even if little.
So, to start, a trait that we have observed and corroborated with other people is how some of our countrymen ignore and walk past you in public places such as shopping centres, as if you don’t exist! It would perhaps be good practice, if you acknowledged the existence of your so called friends some of whom you socialise with on a regular basis (or a have history of Facebook communication at the very least). A simple hello shouldn’t take that long. You could partially blame the abundance of us in Oz land now, compared to what it was over a decade ago, when a glimpse of a turban or sub-continental attire brought a sense of comfort and was a reason good enough to strike a conversation.
Smiling at someone is considered a common courtesy here in Oz but often when you smile back at fellow Desis, they don’t smile back. One might argue that they are still in their old Indian habitat, but worth pondering as they can smile back at everyone else but their fellow countrymen. So, is that discrimination against their own kind?
We have also witnessed how our fellow countrymen like to get up close and personal, literally! Not respecting personal space especially when standing in a queue appears to be a problem – 2 inches of separation is not enough. Standing at least an arm’s length away so there is a respect for personal space is the way to go.
Yes, we are indeed blessed with a heavy tone of voice or high-pitched, as one might say! Whilst you may think that a fellow Desi is enjoying listening to your conversation with mum on the way back home in public transport, coming from a land of 22 official languages, there is a good chance they are in the same boat of annoyance as a fellow Non-Desi commuter. So, to avoid the stares of your fellow commuters in public transport, try to keep your voice down if you are talking on the phone. And oh that blaring music coming out of your headphones is meant for you, not for people around you, so turn that down too.
Indian Standard Time (IST) in colloquial context implies reaching late for an appointment. If you wouldn’t do it for your Australian workplace then don’t thrust IST on your Indian friends either i.e. their gatherings, private functions and the like. Leave (IST) in India because everyone’s time is equally important and be time-sensitive. Bas thodi der aur can be frustrating!
When it comes to time, the notion that Desi tradesmen have it in excess as compared to their Australian competitors is flawed, and can be disrespectful. Not to mention that if we run into a Desi still finding their feet in their field of expertise, we find it convenient to exploit the situation as compared to lending a hand, which unfortunately appears to be left to merely Facebook posts these days.
A reduction in copycat behaviour is also recommended. Just because your friend or neighbour has done something or bought something doesn’t mean that you need to do it too or outdo them.
We are not going to get into the financial repercussions of such impulsive actions, as the chances of pride winning over logic in our community are quite obvious. As people philosophically say in many Facebook posts, life is not a race! Sounds good but try to exercise it too.
In the end, we don’t have answers to some of these social and civic issues but consider this as a commentary of our observations. Feel free to disagree. We also strongly believe that if you are denying our observations, then you are living in Utopia or simply not practising the posts you have been posting/liking on social media.
P.S. Unfortunately, stereo-typing was unavoidable and demeanour can become a two-way street!
(The views expressed are personal).