I love to travel. I have learnt that I am equally ignorant about many things despite being a globe trotter. My intentions are good (interest, curiosity) but the impact may be different (anger, frustration). Having said that, since I have a medium to clear some of the misconceptions about my country I will use this opportunity to do that (and promise to still be patient with future-ignorant-people, that I might come across).
- Curry - There is no one particular spice as "curry". To say it in simpler terms gravy is what we call "curry". So, I am sorry to burst your bubble but all the stores selling you 'curry powder' are basically just cheating you with a random mixture of spices which you can mix in your food. For sure, it will add flavour to your food but then you could have added any spices from your kitchen cabinet and achieved the same goal.
- Elephants & Lions - We do not have elephants and/or lions and tigers in our backyard. Like every other country they are in the forests or zoo. However, anyone who asks this particular question is inexcusable. Why on earth would we travel by elephants? Aren't half of us doctors/surgeons/engineers?
- English - How do we speak such good English? Do we learn English in school? - How else do you think we answer all the tech-support calls you make wee-hours of the night? Most certainly we didn't pick it up on the 20 hour-flight to your country! We speak the Queens english (probably even better than the Queen herself!) because the British ruled upon us for hundreds of years and left. But English stayed!
- Skin Colour - Most of the people from the Indian-Subcontinent have the skin colour - brown. But just because you are brown doesn't mean you are automatically Indian. You could be Pakistani, Bangladeshi or even Sri Lankan. Nonetheless, Indians come in all shapes and colour due to our varied geographic topography.
- Weddings - Though most of the times we have big-fat-colourful ceremonies but not all weddings are an extravaganza. We have Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains, Parsi, and even Jews to make India a melting pot of religions and every religion has it's own rituals. And this also clears the air about the fact that not all Indians are Hindus.
- Language - We do not speak 'Indian' and we do not speak 'Hindu'. Every state has it's own language, though 'hindi' and 'english' are the most widely spoken languages throughout the country.
- Weather - Is it always Hot & Rainy? Well, not always! It's hot in summers and cold in winters (duhh!) just like everywhere else in the world (except Australia probably)
- Movies - Our movies are not musicals. Song & Dance is just a format of our cinema. We take our movies very seriously!
- Wedding-band - We don't wear wedding-bands because it is not part of the tradition in most cultures in India (except Christian). So before hitting-on an Indian woman without a wedding-band, think twice! *smile*
- Poverty - If you are at all living in today's world you would know that not everyone in India is poor. You see Indians studying/working everywhere in the world, don't you? We are still a long way from being a 100% developed nation but we are working on it. Also, Thanks to Slumdog Millionaire everyone thinks India a poverty stricken country, but if you 'really' had brains you would notice that in the movie itself they showed that the land where the slums inhibited was occupied by a sky-high building, 20 years laters. Not that the building itself represent our economic growth, but I am just trying to make a point!
- Arranged Marriage - Though still a large number of people use this medium to meet their life-partner in India, it is not imposed on anyone. Only, instead of your friends, your family/relative organizes your first meeting and thereafter you are free to say yes or no!
- Gandhi - This is probably inconsequential but on more than one occasion I have seen people spell the name of Mr. Gandhi as Ghandi which is absolutely unacceptable as one can be ignorant about all of our culture but not about Mahatma Gandhi (you must live under a rock if you are that ignorant!).
- Hollywood - Do not believe everything you see in Hollywood movies about Indians. They tend to seriously 'stereotype us'. Every Cab driver is not an Indian in NYC, we do not eat Monkey brains (ref: Indiana Jones), all Indian women don't wear Saree, etc. etc.
- Food - All Indian food is not Hot & Spicy, just the one served in the so called Indian Restaurants is *skeptical.look* ... Also FYI, there is nothing as Chai Tea (Tea is called Chai in Hindi) and Naan bread is just no term! Naan is a form of bread but like you would never address "Can I have tortilla bread" similarly you cannot say 'naan bread'!
P.S. Everyone is welcome to add or edit this list. These are only my and my husband's experiences.