>Today, for the first time since I arrived in China, I was asked if I’m a Pakistani. I was a bit taken aback. Usually, most South Asians are asked if they’re from India.
Whenever I say I’m from India, it evokes a ‘Wow!’. The average Chinese is very gung-ho about India and more particularly, Indian food. Everyone wants to try it. And they’re all fascinated by Indian clothes. During the Independence Day celebrations at the Indian Consulate in Shanghai, we all decided to, quite literally, wear our patriotism on our sleeves. So early in the A.M. we marched to the consulate, decked out in saris and kurtas and pajamas and tons of jewellery, for the flag-hoisting ceremony. We drew a fairly large crowd of onlookers, most of whom were positively riveted by our clothes.
Bollywood is also quite well-known. Once, while bargaining vigorously at a shop, my mother was called Aishwarya Rai by the young saleswoman. Almost immediately they arrived at a mutually agreeable price for the item in question. I’ve often wondered how much the Aishwarya Rai compliment had to do with it. (Note: The Chinese are fantastic salespeople. Really. They know just what to say.)
Another time, an old man asked me where I’m from. I told him and he immediately burst into ‘Awaala hooon…!’ And then there’s this security guard in our society who, everytime he sees me, greets me with a half-saluting gesture and says ‘Yindu!’ (Yindu = India).
Seems like Hindi-Chini are bhai-bhai, after all.