Saturday, August 07, 2004

Indian in America = smart, smelly, sentimental suck-up?

Last weekend I ended up watching two movies about Indian stereotypes in America - Flavors and Harold And Kumar Go To White Castle. I liked both movies, but thought Harold and Kumar was funnier. I enjoyed Kumar's role as the cool and carefree guy who leads his friend Harold to seek juicy burgers, marijuana, girls and other forms of pleasure. In the movie, Kumar is portrayed as a smart guy who is being pressured by his dad to get into medical school, but he intentionally keeps messing up his interviews. This led to one of the funniest moments in the movie where he gets a call on his cell phone during an interview and he quips - "No, I'm not doing anything important. I can talk...” By the end of the movie Kumar realizes that he should not mess up his interviews just so he does not confirm to the Indian stereotype. If he has the brains and talent to become a doctor, he would become one. I appreciated this transformation of views, probably because I conform to the stereotype of being an Indian software developer. In fact this is one of the few things I did not like about Flavors. It depicted Software Engineering as a thankless job in which Indians suck up to the boss.

The movie Flavors also shows a housewife who gets married and comes to US. My heart went out for the housewife stuck at home bored all day. A lot of my Indian friends went to India to get married. I feel bad for the girls who come here and sit at home all day with no life or friends of their own. All my friends are nice guys though, and spend the entire weekend making up for the weekdays by taking their wives out to nice restaurants and local tourist spots.

My sister is listening to a program on NPR about Michael Moore's movie - Fahrenheit 9/11. She asks me if one of my Indian friends is pro-Bush. This friend of mine is Republican. The fact that she's Indian and politically Republican challenges the stereotype that all Indians are Democrats, hence prompting my sister's question about my friend’s stance on the Bush administration. And I muse, "how can any aware person be pro-Bush, especially one of my friends?"

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