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Saturday, June 15
The Indiana Daily Student

world

Single white female minority

I’ve never really felt like a minority before.

In fact, I’ve never thought much about minority status at all.

In the U.S., pointing out differences among people is taboo. We don’t talk about race, religion, or gender in polite conversation.   

It seems that in India, differences are the first thing people’s attention jumps to. I don’t carry any of the religious or marital symbols that people wear here. I’m among few women seen in public.

Also, I’m white. People in India aren’t white, my Hyderabadi acquaintances tell me.

This blatant racial statement, although not completely untrue, shocked me at first. I’m used to the typical American colorblind culture that inspired movies like “Crash.”

But walking down the street shows that differences are a focal point in Indian culture.

First, they stare. This is one of the chief complaints among girls in my study abroad program.

They don’t like men’s unabated stares as they’re walking, biking, grocery shopping, etc. Some say that the stereotype of western women being loose makes some of the staring overtly sexual.

Sometimes this is the case, however staring generally seems to be harmless because it’s not considered rude in India the way it is in the U.S. Sometimes people will take their stare a step further and say hello. After saying hello, people will generally ask, “from which country?”

To this I usually reply, “the U.S.”

For every hour I venture away from campus, I’m asked this question at least 10 times.
It’s true, I’ve counted.

Some of the other students in my program have grown so tired of this question that they’ll pivot to retreat while calling backward “Russia! Canada! No where!”

As if pointing out conspicuous nationalities was not enough, the next three questions that follow are always: are you married; when will you get married; and which religion are you.

The first few times I was asked all these questions in quick secession I was taken aback. No one asks these things in the U.S.

But in India, everyone displays these things through their dress. These questions once again remind me that I’m a minority.

Often, my interviewer will exclaim over my religion, race or nationality and tell me that there’s no one like that in India.

Not only am I one of the only white people in the city, I’m also among a minority of women. They exclaim further that I am not in the works for marriage, and what’s more shocking, that I don’t belong to any particular religion.

While I’m not a fan of being stared at and constantly interviewed, I do appreciate the honesty with which people here acknowledge differences.

After exclaiming that I’m a white girl from America with no gods, people generally look past that and continue to talk with me.

In the U.S., these are the very differences that we attempt to ignore. Instead we first discuss inconsequential topics such as work, weather or hobbies.

Only later do we ease into touchy subjects typically broached upon introductions in India.

It’s impossible to blend in here.

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