On all my travels, I've had people raising brows or looking at me quizzically when I tell them I am Indian. What follows are queries and statements that make me wonder whether we belong to the same planet:
You're Indian? Then how can you speak English?
Just the way you do.
Are there mountains in India, like the Alps?
Well, a bit taller, actually. They're called the Himalayas.
Do the people of India speak Indian?
French, Spanish, German, Japanese and English are languages and peoples. Indians are people and they may speak any of the 22 Indian languages.
Aren't Indians from America?
No, they were mistakenly named after us.
Is there a sea near India?
Yes. We've got an ocean too and it's named after our country.
Indians are Asians?
Yes, just like people from Siberia, Central Asia, Middle East, China and the South East.
How can Indians be vegetarians? All Indian restaurants here serve butter chicken.
Vegetarianism is a personal choice.
Don't Indians wrap themselves in loose cloth?
Mostly, but we're generous so we've saved some cloth for the rest of the world.
Can't Indians use toilet paper?
Ok, what did you guys use before toilet paper was invented?
Is that where Bollywood comes from?
Yes, and we love it!
I once had a friend from India.
Too many people in India. How do you guys manage with the crowd and the traffic?
We were born to be crowd-dodgers and traffic hustlers.
Can you drink (alcohol) in India?
You obviously haven't heard of the Patiala peg.
I am slightly dark-skinned. Will I be discriminated against because of my skin colour in India?
We have a very wide range from very fair to very dark-skinned people. You'll fit in perfectly.