Perplexed global citizen
So, I went to Sydney on a business trip from my company based in NYC. Working as a Business Strategist for over a year now, my company selected me to head a new project for a client in Sydney and so I was sent for a good 3 months duration to the beautiful city.
Being a second generation US citizen of my Indian descent family, everything right from my passport to my accent screamed out my American citizenship. But that was not enough for people to understand that I am a born American.
Immediately after landing in Sydney, the very next day I went to my office, absolutely excited to work in this new workplace, new city and with new colleagues. Now when I entered the office, I asked for Mr. Stephen Robinson (the person I was supposed to report to) and the lady at the reception said, “Mr. Mathur, to the best of my knowledge, all the IT Professionals are expected to report to Mr. Joseph King.” Confused at her reaction, I replied, “that’s great but can you please point me in the direction of Mr. Robinson’s office? I am expected to report to him this morning.” “But, IT Professionals are supposed to meet Mr. King and his office is on the seventh floor,” the woman exclaimed. Now this was getting a little annoying and I said, “Please Ms. Smith, according to the mail that I received, I was informed that all Business Strategists were supposed to meet Mr. Robinson. So, kindly point me in the direction of his office.” “You’re a Business Strategist?” Surprised by her reaction and trying to figure out mentally when did I say anything against it, I replied, “Yes, I am a Business Strategist,” to which the wide eyed lady responded, “But you’re Indian!”
Mental note: All Indians are IT professionals. If not, then at least they should know how many yards is a cricket pitch. If neither qualifies then they are as good as American born Indians!
Unbelievably, this does not end here. If you are a “rich” American born, dollar surrounded Indian Business Strategist then you should definitely be a FaceTime pal with Mr. Amitabh Bachchan!
Unfortunately, in my case all three of the factors proved wrong and so over the next three months I carried my passport as a police badge round the clock, ready to flash it at anybody’s face who next asked me how much did Virat Kohli make in the last innings!
By the time I got used to, “but you must know Amitabh Bachchan!” (in spite of having the strongest urge of reminding him that I have as much chance of knowing Mr. Bachchan as he has of knowing Nicole Kidman, I would just shake my head and return to my work), I was accosted with yet another criteria. One day, after office, sitting in this beautiful and swanky bar with some of my colleagues including the coveted IT professionals from Mumbai, I informed them that my parents are from Rajasthan. “Oh, then you must be from a royal family and surely own a couple of havelis (mansions) all over the royal state,” exclaimed the guy from Maharashtra over his third glass of Johnnie Walker. By this time I was so fed up, I said, “Yes, and my cousin still lives there, everyday strolling through the gigantic corridors of our palace with fairies bringing in the fabric for her lehenga (long skirt) sewn on by leprechauns and with her friends visiting her from the neighboring palaces atop huge camels! By the way how is your neighbor, Mr. Bachchan?”
So, this was how I came face to face with the reality of how Indians are stamped not just by people of other nationalities but also by their very own Indian bhai-bandhus!