Enough has been said about the US returned Indians’ behavior and their attitude in the mother land. Before I start my version of US Indians joke, let me make a few things very clear:
- I have myself stayed in the US for a few years and hence a few statements below may be autobiographical (which I didn’t probably understand then)
- I am not trying to tar everyone with the same brush – people may differ
- I still have a good number friends and relatives in the US of A and I do not intent to hurt any of them with my post – it’s just meant for plain humor alone
So you have heard and read many stories of Indians about their sudden US accent, usage of miles instead of kilometers, mineral water drinking habits, calorie concerns and diet coke drinking habits etc. Hopefully what I am going to share is somewhat different stories.
Symptom #1: In the US…
Well, for a US returned Indian, invariably almost all topics of discussion should start with ‘In the US…’ or ‘In US…’. Believe me, this symptom fails to disappear even years after them coming back to India. Even worse, those people who have stayed hardly three or more months in the United States will still say this.
By the way, while ‘In the US’ is the statement most heard, you still can’t rule out ‘In Australia’, ‘In UK’, ‘In XYZ developed country’ etc…
Symptom #2: Can I talk to your Manager?
Well, the US returned Indian has a different expectation about the service quality that he needs to get. Hence when he doesn’t see any instant result while talking to a customer support or sales personnel, his rude question after a minute of talking is ‘Can I talk to your Manager?’ (as if that improves the situation dramatically in Indian conditions… May be it’s more of a way of suggesting ‘I am superior to you, so treat me better’)
Symptom #3: Meet-all-Friends-Syndrome
So he returns from the US either for a short visit or for good. Suddenly he becomes a very friendly person and makes it a point to meet all his friends (whom he has forgotten since long during the good old days and wouldn’t even ‘like’ them on Facebook then). The get-togethers usually happen in groups in high end restaurants or theme parks so that the vacation is spent fruitfully with friends as part of a busy schedule to get rid of boredom. As a matter of fact, during their 3 or 4 weeks visit, friends are allocated 90% of the time and the old parents and relatives should be happy to get an appointment slot of few hours with their wards.
Symptom #4: Restaurant bill payment and Tips
While the bills used to be picked by them prior to the recession, these days the restaurant bills are promptly shared by the guests as well as the elite host. Times have changed, you know. Invitations have now changed to Meetings.
However, every amount by default in calculated in US Dollars. This will very quickly happen in mind and one can hear statements like ‘That’s less than half a dollar, it’s very cheap’ or ‘Man, that’s more than a 100 dollars, that’s as expensive as it’s THERE’.
While every possible calculation is in USD, the restaurant waiter tip is an exception here. The waiter still gets a tip of max 10 rupees regardless of the order size and service quality while ‘In the US we pay 10% to 15% as tip’.
Symptom #5: Focus on Sales, Deals and Coupons
While talking about his latest car, gadget that he got from BestBuy or the recent home purchase, he will promptly say ‘I got a good DEAL on that’ there. Getting a deal is a pride factor, you see regardless of how much you spent.
Note: Not to forget that some of them – especially the ones from a particular southern state in India – actually return those things (that they got on deal, heavily showed off and used in India) as soon as they go back to the US. The no-questions-asked-return-policy in some US stores is best exploited by Indians, I think
Symptom #6: Manual Transmission Phobia
Non-stopping whining about the pollution levels and bad traffic conditions in India is a must. And even if he’s in a hired taxi, he will still worry about the ‘manual transmission’ car. If the friends are driving, he will amaze how exactly this thing works (and probably that’s the only Indian skill that he ever admires secretly)
Needless to remind you, ‘In US, everything is automatic’.
So, what doesn’t change?
Despite all those changes, there are certain things that never change (of course, other than the restaurant tip norms).
During the Indian visit, though he often complains that ‘the food is very spicy’, he will still pack back as much Indian spices and curry powders as possible when he goes back.
Formal shirts and shoes are always purchased in bulk from India because they are expensive there while casuals and accessories can be bought ‘ there on sale’
Over-courteous behavior (‘opening the door for people’, ‘after you’, ‘excuse me’) is something that is usually present in the US alone. You can see traces of it during the first few days of Indian stay and then ‘Indianism’ takes over. However, when they go back there’s a sudden positive switch.
And by the way, these days some of them have actually stopped drinking coke with Indian meals. Things are changing…