I plead guilty of living in the US

Last time I was in India, I went to visit a long lost friend. When I arrived at his place, on agreed upon time – like an idiot, he was not home. His dad assured me that he would return soon and insisted that I waited.

My friend’s father, Mr. T, was an interesting guy, interesting being an euphemism for creepy. There was no end to his questions. He seemed to have an ax to grind against Indians living in the US too. He didn’t sound like an average curious George, he sounded more like a lawyer arguing for my death sentence.

Mr. T: Where do you live?
I stated my name and address for the record.

Several questions followed that reiterated the accusations against me.

Mr. T: How long have you been living in the US?
Mr. T: Do you own a house? How much did it cost? Oh my god, for that price you can buy two houses in India.
Mr. T: Which company do you work for? Do you they have a branch in India? Oh, they will, soon.
Mr. T: How frequently do you visit India?

After it was established, beyond reasonable doubt, that I had been happy living in the US, he continued scornfully.

Mr. T: What platform do you work on?

These days, everybody in India, including retired Math teachers, know everything about software. Not to worry, I have prepared answers for these questions.

Me: I don’t have a specific platform. My strength is in adapting to various platforms.

That answer worked well in job interviews. But he looked at me like I was retarded. He proceeded, speaking very slowly.

Mr. T: What language do you use?

My answer would’ve started with “Language is just a tool,” but I knew Mr. T would interpret it as “I don’t know any software languages. I am a complete moron.” So went with an answer he could appreciate.

Me: I use C

Mr. T smirked like a lawyer would when the opponent’s witness makes a blunder.

Mr. T: You use C? In this advanced age, even people in India are using modern languages like Java, Oracle and Cisco. You are living in America and still using C?

I didn’t know which part to correct first. But I knew any attempt to enlighten him would be futile.

Me: Yeah, I never learnt Cisco.

At this point, Mr. T decided to stop beating around the bush and determine my worth.

Mr. T: How much do you make?

A question that is not considered too personal in India. If one evades the question, it would be assumed that one has pathetically low income. I gave him some vague number.

Mr. T: Do you get housing allowance? Vehicle allowance?

After I confessed I didn’t even know that they were, his Math-teacher-brain worked like a super computer. He took my salary, compensated for inflation, dollar value fluctuation, housing market downturn and draught in Ethiopia. He arrived at an arbitrary adjusted net salary.

Mr. T: My cousin’s brother-in-law’s son, who works in Bangalore, makes gazillion rupees. Considering his house and car loan allowances, he is making almost as much as you make. So what is the point in your living in the US?

He rested his case.

My friend arrived and bailed me out before I could make an opening statement. I don’t know how he interpreted my lunging to hug him and saying, “Man, you have no idea how glad I am to see you.”

59 Responses to “I plead guilty of living in the US”


  • That was great- adjusting for draught in Ethiopia :P I have seen examples like this.

    On the other hand, I had once privilege of having a senior Gujju lady for nine hours as my neighbour in the flight. She seemed to find Indians as something less and those living in Europeans lesser. All the time she narrated tales of her daughter in USA. Funny thing, she gladly, and without being asked, gave the figure her daughter was making in US but in INR !! everything else was in dollars. I guess that lady and your friend’s dad will make nice company.

  • yeah…..asking one’s salary is not that personal here in india. U must’ve been really glad when ur frnd came n rescued u:) LOL.

  • Hahaha… I know the feeling. Once when I went back home, my uncle came up to me and asked me if I knew how to use a broom. People get the wrong idea of people in the US. They think we’re spoilt brats and can’t figure things out on our own, even if we tried. Oh well, if you can’t change their opinions, work with it.

  • You indeed a have a very good sense of humor.Once I came through same kind of person who started ridiculing me about the social emptiness and loosing that sense altogether if I live for a long time in the U.S.
    I didn’t have any answer!

  • ah, the uncomfortablness of being alone in a room with a parent. No matter how old I get, it’s always uncomfortable.

  • Your post brought back a lot of old memories. I have been in this situation a lot of times. One guy actually lectured me about why it is not safe for woman to live alone in the US and why I should get married :)

  • Where do these people come from?!
    Sour grapes complex?I am always right complex?This is NUTS
    Maybe you could plead ‘guilty of enjoying living in the US’

  • forgot to add… is money the ONLY thing in life?

  • i got accused of being a CIA spy once by a very embittered random guy because I studied in the US…
    The other very enigmatic comment I got after a bus ride was, “I know what you are” from yet another random uncle sitting behind me… I think I was having a conversation about studying in the US with my neighbour.
    I think there’s a generation of uncles out there who think that USA was responsible for their personal issues.

  • I totally understand your plight.. some elders are like that, I have had such experiences too where I ended up with headaches making me wonder if I had an instant brain tumor or something like that.. well written..

  • greensatya:
    It is hilarious that she gives her daughter’s salary in INR. And yes, it will be so amusing to see that lady and my friend’s dad talk to each other. I did see peopel like this lady though. People who can’t stop talking about their kids. I think I need to do a post on that

    harshavardhan reddy:
    I never felt so happy seeing that freind before :)

    video:
    That is true. People told me things like, “Life is too easy in the US,” as if I committed some crime.

    shreemoyee:
    Thanks:)

    sharda:
    Thank you for the compliment :) That is another thing people seem to think about US, that people in the US have no emotional attachment to anything.

    Party Girl:
    Welcome to my blog. Yep, I have been through many such uncomfortable situations.

    Bindu:
    haha. I think telling single people that they should get married happens irrespective of gender I guess. Peopel are just jealous of single people ;)

    priya: :) I wish I was not alone in that room with him

    La Vida Loca:
    I have seen a lot of people who take personal offense if I say I like living in the US. I think they for some reason assume that I think India is a bad place to live and that I think they are pathetic for living in that country.

    And people also seem to think US is all about money and nothing else.

    Mosilanger:
    Haha. I wish it’s only uncles who say these things. I had old friend calling me a traitor :(

    SushSyam:
    LOL@instant brain tumor. Looks like you went through many of them too :)

  • Oh don’t I know what you’re talking about! My mother behaved like this for each of the 5 years I lived in the U.S. and now that her beloved daughter is safely home and away from Evil Capitalist And Other Alluring Clutches, her tirade has vanished!
    Hoo boy. Not fun.

  • hahah!
    Reminds me almost of my interview with my dad-in-law when I met him for the first time..hahah!

  • “So what is the point in your living in the US?” –

    How about, “I don’t get asked what my yearly income is by complete strangers”. You handled it much better than I would have :)

  • Like Liz has said,
    “So what is the point in your living in the US?” – how about, I can stay away from silly old men who torment young people like an african bee?

    I don’t know if you wanted to be polite, but people like him have to be snubbed then and there. At least you might have save another friend of your friend’s.

  • lol…
    look at the bright side….ur married status spares u a whole lot of grilling :p

    p.s. u have been tagged… :)

  • Funny but true. I think everyone goes through the same questions no matter where you go. they dont think its to impersonal to ask some one how much they make?and what job they do, do you rent or own a home etc.

    Check my blog cuz you have been tagged.

  • Dilnavaz:
    It’s not easy hearing about it from your mom :) Anyway, looks like order has been restored after you returned home.

    Anand:
    LOL. Now, if it is your dad-in-law thign would be a whole lot different.

    Perspective Inc: :) Ya, that’s exactly what I think of him if I think of him now

    Suresh:
    You are right, these kinds of people need to be put back in their place. One, it’s difficult to do it when actually in the situation. Two, I have a big problem with confrontation.

    nithya:
    “ur married status spares u a whole lot of grilling”
    I will wait until you get married for you to take it back. There is a whole different kind of grilling once you get married.

    Saw the tag and will oblige

    starry nights:
    Ya, nothing is too personal in India, including “Why don’t you have children yet, are you trying not to have?” I think if I lived in India, I would’ve gotten used to it.

    That’s a neat tad. I will do it soon

  • hahah!
    Well looks like u were the criminal who was being tested in court…how dare u leave india and settle in the US….ur sentenced to lifetime imprisonment in India!

  • Ha, hah! This was funny! If you weren’t already married, one would think he was scoping you out for his daughter, or something!

    Thanks for visiting my blog! Have a great day!

    Talena

  • Im speechless, you live in the Us dont know Cisco and dont even get housing allowance. What in fucks name??
    Your life sucks, now go sulk in that corner.

  • Actually, you know.. he may be right about the earning part.. but the cultural shock is quite something for you..

    however, being an incorrigible Indian, I do see his point, and well, you handled it AWFULLY WELL!

  • Hmmm, he has some valid points y;know ;)

  • Yeah sometimes ppl can get on ur nerves! Any help that comes @ such times is life-saving!

    “Me: I don’t have a specific platform. My strength is in adapting to various platforms.”

    This was a wonderful reply

    Are you taking the tag? Am keeping track of ppl doing so … that way I can leave an evil laugh reading their answers to Qt. 7

    GBU
    Arti

  • chee chee….living in evil capitalist country and polluting young minds and not even getting car loans!!! What is this I say???!!!!

  • ekta:
    haha. imprisionment will probably be ok. I won’t have to meet these kinds of freaks at least :)

    scrapnqueen:
    Wouldn’t that be wonderful! Marrying that guys daughter. I can hear his lecture everyday :)

    jhantu:
    I am thinking of strating a Cisco language course in India :)

    how do we know:
    Thanks :) It shouldn’t have been too much of a cultural shock because I did grow with those kinds of people around. I just didn’t expect him to corner me like that!

    me:
    Hmmm. How much do you make? ;)

    arti honrao:
    That is an actual reply I use in job interviews some times when I didn’t work on the platform the job requires ;)

    freespirit:
    “I say” ROFL. Why do our elders have to end each line with “I say” :)

  • Man.. tht was interesting.. No wonder u were askin me about “right direction”…lol…

  • awesome post dude, awesome!
    more such stuff requested

  • Great Post! Thats very true every inch of whatever you”ve said happens almost everywhere in India. What a Pity!

  • apy:
    Looks like you are going the right direction, you ended up on the right blog ;)

    psv:
    Thank you so much :) I will do my best

    indianangel:
    Ya, it seems to be a common practice anywhere you go!

  • He has missed out on your personal details!!

    But with most of the parents, they are always comparing their near and dear ones with others.

  • Sounds like a setup for a Bollywood movie. Om Puri as Mr. T. You could be played by Deep Katdare, and Kal Penn as the huggable friend. It’s a Super Hit!

  • By the way, I was second runner up in the Jackie Schroff look alike contest.

  • chitra:
    Yep. I don’t mind if they compare in their mind. But it gets annoying when they want us to admit we are a piece of crap when compared their children :)

    alan:
    I am embarrassed to admit that I had to go look up who Deep is :)
    Om Puri is too classy an actor to play Mr. T. Paresh Raval would be better :)

    “was second runner up in the Jackie Schroff ”
    We just need to find a scrip where you can play his brother in a movie :) Did you see “Bollywood calling” If you haven’t, you got to watch it

  • Paresh Raval would be a good choice. I was pretty sure who you meant, but I did look him up to confirm.

    Bollywood Calling sounds pretty good from the on-line reviews. I’ll pick a copy and check it out.

  • This was really hilarious and quite nostalgic for me too. I faced a similar situation, when my neighbor uncle stopped me on the road to tell me how his son was doing well in Tata Steel, and how he was so happy and earned a handsome salary, (like I so much wanted to know and take notes) and finally he also gave me a brief lesson on patriotism, as I was indeed “guilty of living in the US”. Later I did give him my piece of mind but let’s not get into that.

  • Poor you! I must say you value your friend dearly to have put up with his Dad the way you did.

  • Damn, I know I sound like a broken record here, but it’s true – Twisted, you crack me up!!

    Know exactly how this feels. I hate to answer questions especially with people who don’t know me – but somehow people in India seem to think just because they’re senior to you they can ask what they like & demand answers.

    Have to stop reading your blog now, my sides hurt from all the laughing…

  • You never learnt Cisco indeed! That is the part I loved ;)

  • Hi, Found your blog through India Blogs. You are hilarious… you have a fall back profession at hand if you decide to stop being a software professional! That will invite more comments from “the people in India”! What do you do for a living? – You can reply “I am a stand up comedian!”, that will be sure to stump them.. and stop the barrage of questions…

  • “Me: Yeah, I never learnt Cisco.”
    I have gone through similar conditions…

    Especially when people in my native town ask me where I work and when I spell out my company and job profile… all they would answer back is

    “Didn’t you get selected in Wipro and Infosys !!”

    And words from my friends who do IMS in those companies…
    “Dude – all i do is e-peon job with a gr8 salary”

  • @ Twisted DNA, I just came across your hilarious writings and of course, can’t stop recalling the likes of Dave Barry and Ramesh Mahadevan, in the same vein!

  • @ Twisted DNA, I just came across your hilarious writings and of course, can’t stop recalling the likes of Dave Barry and Ramesh Mahadevan, in the same vein! And, one suggestion is to use reCAPTCHA “stop spam, read books!” to help the book digitization project(s)! :-)

  • Twisted-Man!
    U r something else! unlike u, I live in India – but not unlike u, I get asked the “how-much-do-you-make” question all the time. irks me to no end. tired of giving evasive replies about something I believe is personal. What I liked about this post was not the humorous jabs but the profound reality embedded within these jabs. Good on you.

    btw, i could not comparing the common threads between this and the one up-manship…

  • This is the reason why I meet friends in restaurants where other clandestine activity takes place. Still, you can’t escape the trains. In trains, I manage by being brief, which is sometimes interpreted as brusqueness, and I’m spared of the rigmarole.

    Never tried it, but what if you answer, “I don’t know,” to the salary question? You’ll be interpreted as dumb or secretive or both. End of discussion.

  • I know one things for sure.. Somany IT guys have no jobs and responding to this kind of things.. including me :-) ))

  • Funny as it would get!!.. I have been through this for sure. I mean, forget being in US. Belonging to a border area in Punjab , and working in Bangalore is almost equivalent for you guys working in USA.
    When I get back to home town, I am always bombarded with such questions, I give a rough figure about my salary every single time(trying to remember what I had told 6months back).. and here in my place, they dont even try any other question.. Sequence is like this

    Question 1. “Beta kee haal hai ?
    Me :”Wadiya Uncle”

    Question 2. “Kive ,bangalore rehnaa hai aaj kal ??” (so you stay in bangalore these days?
    Me: “Haanjee”

    Question 3. “pher kinni tankhaan mil jaandi hai ??” (so how much you make ?)..

    and I am like disgusted..coming up with random numbers….
    ——–
    Another incidence, During my engineering days, one of the uncles after “learning” that I am doing Computer Engineering said..

    “so ceeediaaa bharengaa??” (so after degree, you will write CDs??)

    Man, Do you have an answer to it ??:-)

  • Man … I am still LMAO after reading that “In this advanced age, even people in India are using modern languages like Java, Oracle and Cisco.”

    Good One Buddy :)

  • Lol!! This is hilarious. I had been on both sides, people in the US giving me a gazillion reasons about why US is better than India and vice-versa. I am mostly, a bemused listener :D

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