Before I came to India, I thought it would be a melting pot for me where I just fit right in. I thought that everyone would recognize that I am Indian too and treat me like I was a local. The response I get is the complete opposite from what I expected. I walk down the street with a stamp on my forehead that says, “Hi, I am a foreigner, feel free to ask me where I come from and what my name is?”
Indians can easily tell that I am a foreigner whether I am wearing a hat, sunglasses, traditional attire or non-traditional, they almost always look at me as a foreigner. Through the bus windows and even cracks of small space in an alley way, they know that I am different, an outsider, a foreigner, an American.Getting bored of responding in the same old way saying that I am “American.” I sometimes throw a curve ball and respond with "Dubai." When I respond that I am from the US or Dubai, it is fascinating to see people's eyes light up like it is Diwali festival or Christmas day. They will shake my hand, bow, give me directions or give me a ride, get out of their seat, and serve me like a princess. It is such undeserved royal treatment and actually it confirms the superiority of America, which I do not like.
Rarely does a person say, “Hey you look Indian.” Usually I just get the “foreigner” stamp. This is surprising because my skin is darker complexion and my darks roots of my hair are growing out. It seems I have to fight for my Indian blood and sometimes even pull out my ID card to show my last name to prove my Indian background. At the touristy places, they have separate charges for locals and foreigners. A recent safari I was going on had a tremendous price difference between locals and foreigners. Being with two local Indian guys, I decided to fight for my rights and propose my “I am an Indian negotiation.” Explaining where my family lives, my career goals of possibly working in India, and pulling out the last name “Raj.” He granted me the Indian price, which I was very thankful for and proud of my negotiating skills. Anyone who visits their home turf, where their blood is should not be considered a foreigner-that is my own personal opinion and is up for debate. But I have to keep on fighting for my Indian roots. I am Indian and proud of it!