A day doesn’t go by that I am not asked at least a few times which country I’m from, for obvious reasons of course. My unnaturally bright blonde hair, translucent skin tone, nasal accent and western attire just scream American to everyone I encounter. But thank you to everyone in Bengaluru for asking where I am from anyway. If that isn’t already enough to make me feel special for a few minutes, thank you – ask me from what city and tell me how much you love Microsoft when I say Seattle. I guess it’s not so big of a world after all.
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Before I left, so many of my friends and family at home warned me to be cautious about my nationality telling me not everyone in the world is America’s biggest fan. Just to be clear I’m told this before I travel to any country, even Canada. It’s normal for Americans to go overseas and expect to be disliked. Maybe it’s our loud demeanor, free spirit or presumptuous attitudes. When we are surprised to not be initially greeted with disdain it’s natural to feel as if everyone secretly is conspiring against you. In reality this is the far from the truth, especially in India.
Whether or not you already have an idea that I am American, something Europeans keenly sense the second you come into their view, you still ask me where I am from anyway. Maybe it’s the separation of heritage, culture, and continents, but regardless India opens its arms wide. Being in India is like being in one of those rooms covered in ‘No Judgment Zone’ posters where everyone feels comfortable.
Thank you Bangalore for accepting my confusion and correcting me when I ask if bhatoora is a big panipuri or for making conversation with me in Kannada even though I don’t speak a single word of it. Thank you Bangalore for asking my opinion on Trump and laughing over his twitter with me. Thank you Bangalore for sharing your food with me and pointing me in the right direction multiple times a day. Thank you for being so prideful in your city, telling me where to go and what to see. And from a journalist perspective thank you for giving me a glimpse into so many aspects of your daily lives.
I talk to my mom on the phone probably three times a week, which is probably a lot less than most of you Bengalureans talk to your parents, but I am American, remember. I told her how nice, helpful and genuinely friendly you all are. She responded by asking if I think people here are happier than in the U.S. and if that’s why I think you’re so nice. I am in no place to decide the general happiness of a country compared to another or the happiness of anyone for that matter, but whether India is happier or not you sure are welcoming.