Google fb32x32 twitter linkedin feed-icon-32x32

Yankee Doodle Desi

Yankee Doodle Desi

May 24, 2012

Five Amreekan things every ‘virgin’ NRI is bound to have in common.

1. If you have been to the United States before the advent of broadband in India, then you have definitely indulged in this - some serious open-mouthed respect for how fast the Internet is in USA.

You, who was used to a dial-up connection back home that flickered and groaned its disapproval as you watched anxiously. You, who both loved and loathed graphic-heavy websites. Now you download GBs worth of movies from torrent sites. You tap your fingers impatiently when the YouTube video accessed from your IPad while you're commuting in a moving bus doesn’t buffer fast enough.

Oh ye of little patience, remember thy dial-up days?

2. So in India, you greeted your fellow passengers, with the occasional smile, but usually with a suspicious glance, a well-aimed elbow (in crowded circumstances) and a swear word (reserved for any loafer/eve-teaser) if the situation arises.

So imagine your shock, right from the moment when you step off the plane onto ‘Amreekan’ soil and all the airport staff are smiling at you, wishing you “Good Day”, saying “Thank you”.

You accept the “Hello”s and "How are you?"s with a reserved suspicion, which grows into a surprised delight and finally into a warm acceptance. But it will take time to accept the opening of cars for you, slowing of cars as you cross the street, holding of elevators and polite queuing up everywhere.

3. Dear NRI, you do this unawares, no doubt. Ok, if we're being honest here, you do this 'slightly' aware of the jealousy and 'wahs' that your photos will be greeted with back home.

And like many before you, you name your Facebook photo albums the painfully obvious (we're giving full marks for creativity here) – ‘Fall-2011’, ‘Las-Vegas 2008’ and ‘Drive down to Nashville’.

There a few staples in most of these albums. Allow me the liberty to state a few here:

- You holding the Statue of Liberty precariously on your palm, smiling into the camera....definitely getting points for creative photography angles there.

- You enjoying your first ever snowfall in your brand new woollen jackets and boots from Wal-Mart, bought in the summer sale.

- You posing with the gigantic headed Minnie Mouse at Disneyland. Picture caption: At Disneyland, with Minnie Mouse. Brilliant, lest we think that was you at Juhu Beach with Shah Rukh Khan dressed in a polka dotted dress. Duh!

- You first Baby shower, first Halloween, first barbecue, first baseball game, all your Firsts of the American dream, documented on Facebook.

4. ‘Gas’ is not a word you use very frequently in India without feeling a wee bit ashamed. Not unless you're cursing the gas cylinder-wallah for charging 20 rupees extra for hauling the cylinder all the way from the kitchen entrance to just under the gas stove. Or you’re suddenly haunted by childhood memories of a shameless uncle who emitted unapologetic loud squeaky sounds (out of the wrong end), and made you want to slam your head somewhere.

So when you go about the business of buying your first car in US, it’s only natural you’re going to be going on some lovely long drives. Which will inevitably lead to the need to fill up on some ‘gyaas’ along the way. Wait, not petrol, not diesel, but gas.

Not to worry, it’s just what the American’s like to call their petrol-stations. So yes, eventually, you’ll stop suppressing a smile, as you pull up there and ask for some ‘gyaas’. All in good time, my dear ‘virgin’ NRI.

5. Dear NRI, you have GOT to stop converting everything to Indian rupees. Haan! So it’s true that hot dog you gulped down from the street-vendor cost you as much as watching a movie at an Indian multiplex. But it’s got to stop. You have always been poor at multiplication tables and all this multiplying with 46 is just going to complicate things further. And yes you better start believing it; you won’t get gulab jamuns or bathroom mats or anything for the same price as back home.

But look on the bright side. Soon you’ll discover the magic of discount ‘que-pons’ and forget multiplication completely and live happily ever after in NRI bliss.

Photo credit: 


  • Plingal
    21.12.12 12:54 AM
    Though a tad bit late since the post - was a fun read all the same :). One that you might've missed is being amazed at how many whites (gora's) flank you all through the day - and you get to gawk at them (not just at a beach in Goa) unabashedly especially during the summers .. :)
  • Noel
    01.06.12 03:50 PM
    Takarthu! Maria chechi FTW!!

    I can relate to some of these things when i came to the UK... especially the internet speed part (after a year of using dial up and GPRS in india, I get thrown into this lovely world of epic fast broadband :) ). But i dont quite agree with the snow bit (I think its 'coz of being a gulf mallu.. me and snow dont like each other a lot!).. Keep up the great work!!

    P.S: Loving the 'gyaas' bit ;) !
    30.05.12 08:01 PM
    @ Maria

    Wellcome back after such a long time, and I was beginning to wonder what happened to you. Missed your witt. :)

    Isn't this always the case, when it comes to all the Indians, that we are sucker for bargain, and we will buy any thing and everything that we don't need at the time as long as it's cheap and at discounted price. These are our traits, guilty too, of the same crime.

    The other thing that I will say is, all the people who live some where else, will always convert all the Items plus servises to their own currency value. This, I think is not only Indian thing, but it generally applies to all, regardless of their background.


    BTW good post.
  • shazina
    28.05.12 07:33 PM
    Hi Maria,

    I can so relate to this... super fun post.. my fav part was the names of the albums..:p.. and ofcourse the exchange of pleasantries.... good going girl :)
  • Rajpriya
    25.05.12 02:04 PM
    “Yankee Doodle Desi”. You kept me laughing quite a while. Did I escape being a Virgin Doodle Desi when I went? To be honest it was so long ago and so much was different to the present day I could hardly remember if I did fit into those described.

    Broadband! Digital Cameras, Laptops, iPad, Facebook: Where were these then?

    Email, Dial-up connection took a long to become popularly used by poor Desis at the time.

    Wal-Mart was not so attractive and summer sales often seen by me a farce with not enough Dollars in my pocket. Maths was no problem but Dollars for conversion?

    Sent a photograph taken (with a roll film camera) by a friend at the foot of the Statue of Liberty by Air Mail to my mum. She wrote back asking where I was in that photo and if I changed religion? (A tiny speck and guess why the question about changing religion?) No Photoshop, No Zoom, Phew!

    I envy all you lucky modern day Virgin Yankee Doodle Desi Devils.
  • Jayanth Tadinada
    Jayanth Tadinada
    25.05.12 12:02 PM
    haha.. I don't know where this Nashville is but every NRI I know has drove down there at least once! :)
  • Smaran
    25.05.12 03:03 AM
    Buying winter-wear from Walmart at the true!!
    Loved this article!
  • sunita
    24.05.12 07:17 PM
    Lovely and I just cant stop laughing!
  • sunil
    24.05.12 05:27 PM
    That was a fund read. It is universal be it america, europe or any other country that we aspire to be in. The most common is converting in to rupees....I have done it for almost a year before i gave up....:)
  • bhavana
    24.05.12 05:00 PM
    hahaha...been there and done that and felt that!!!
  • Pallavi Subramaniam
    Pallavi Subramaniam
    24.05.12 12:21 PM
    That was a brilliant post, hilarious and quite true too!! First snow in woollens bought in the summer sale.. er, guilty ;-)
  • Rahul
    24.05.12 09:05 AM
    Nice one:)

Leave a comment