Indians Abroad

Friday, December 11, 2009

Transcript

The depiction of the Non Resident Indian, or NRI, in Indian films has changed a lot over the years. In his lifetime, WNYC reporter Arun Venugopal, an Indian-American born in Texas, says he's seen the portrayal shift from the garishly dressed cousin visiting from abroad to respectable men and women living in the West.

Comments [6]

John

Thanks for this. I'm a non-resident-non-Indian who can't speak any Indian languages, but recently I've been watching Bollywood movies on Netflix. I'm fascinated with the idea of NRIs, and how America is depicted in these movies, but haven't seen any. I can't wait to search them out. Thanks!!

Dec. 18 2009 08:54 PM
John

Thanks for this. I'm a non-resident-non-Indian who can't speak any Indian languages, but recently I've been watching Bollywood movies on Netflix. I'm fascinated with the idea of NRIs, and how America is depicted in these movies, but haven't seen any. I can't wait to search them out. Thanks!!

Dec. 18 2009 08:54 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

I sense misunderstanding, Angel.

Wikipedia is often correctly maligned for inaccuracy on these pages. I'll trust native speakers to tell the correct name and history of their language. I studied Spanish and German for years in high school and have no where near the fluency of any of these Indians in any foreign tongue. My best friend, then, dated a second generation Indian girl.

Moreover, none of these members of the diaspora failed me, even when reluctant, and both examples are honest business people serving the needs of my community. While disappointed with the Indians in India, as I have repeated to all the others I have spoken to at this firm, when they thank me for allowing Safelink to serve me, "There is no need. I am the beggar seeking alms."

Meanwhile, I found the segment less about Bollywood than the maturation of Indian film, especially in a more realistic, less stereotyped view of the cohesion of both diaspora and residents by the residents. This may well lead to addressing long-standing problems in the homeland.

Dec. 16 2009 09:31 PM
Angel from New York

Re the two comments above--how are they relevant to the reporters piece on Bollywood and the Non-Resident Indian?
Or is that the moment anyone pots anything about India and Indian culture it's sen as license to generalize about bad English/these immigrants and their bad English/lack of civic mindedness/call centers and so on.

Btw, no matter what Wikipedia says, Gujarat is a state in India and Gujarathi is the language of the state. So the two guys in Chri's apartment complex were correct.

Dec. 14 2009 01:40 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Safelink, the free cell phones for the poor from Tracphone, did not credit me with my new 64 free minutes in early December but, since I had many minutes to spare, I did not deal with it until the little device demanded that I try to add them manually. Failing that, it asked me to call their customer service center which I know, from experience, must be in India. The operator had to be reminded several times to slow down her heavily British-accented English, though I also had to tell her that the slowing needn’t be that paced for an imbecile, just not mumbled at dolphin-levels of speed. (I once was friends with a fellow had taught those aquatic minds English, though it had to be taped and slowed down to be understood.)

I ended up losing 82.7 minutes, after she repeatedly consulted with her supervisor and parroted the lies she was told as to the reasons. I suppose I should have asked to speak to the supervisor but was afraid she or he only spoke Gujrati.

Dec. 13 2009 02:33 PM
Chris Gray from New Haven, CT

Three Indian vignettes:

At the small grocery, on-site, which serves the elderly and disabled apartment complex where I now live, two young workers converse in a foreign language and I ask what the name of that language is. “Gujrati,” one begins replying, “the language of the State of…” “Gujerat. I know of it. I listen to NPR.” (Turns out Wikipedia says it is named for the neighboring city, not the State.)

This was a reminder that despite that these Indians speak perfect, unaccented American English with their customers, English is not their native language, not even the British version, though we Westerners sometimes forget that.

Reminding the Indian manager or owner of our nearby Walgreen Pharmacy that the corner cut-away for wheelchairs and walkers needed to be actually cleared, not blocked with snow and ice as it was left, while he did an excellent job of rectifying the problem, he had a difficult time understanding why this was his problem to solve. “It is City property!” he complained. “Yes, but legally it is all property owners’ responsibilities” I replied. Besides, had he seen armies of city workers come out to clear the city’s many, many sidewalks and cuts-away? (Oh the tortured things spell check forces me to write!)

Dec. 13 2009 02:30 PM

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