The Two Indias and Generalizations

I’ve been accused on more than a few occasions (well, OK, on every blog post I make that mentions India) of over generalizing (yes, weirdly, my English has be Americanized since being in India and I now spell stuff with zee’s insteaded of esses) with my sweeping statements about the country, population and culture.

To some extent this is very true, but if I noted the exceptions to my generalizations they’d be longer than the blog post itself and then it would be, well, frankly boring. Even more boring infact.

However, I thought I’d talk some more about these generalizations, and then add a few more micro-generalizations in to the mix to annoy my Indian friends even more πŸ™‚

The first generalization that I make is that I often allude to the fact that I’m talking about all of India, when infact what I may have observed or seen was just in Chennai, a city in the state of Tamil Nadu. To put this in perspective, imagine if I said everyone in Europe eats big sausages called frankfurters because I went to Munich and saw people eating them there. Get the picture?

The second generalization that I make is that I assume that what happens in the cities is the same as what happens in the rural countryside. Again, to give this some perspective, imagine if I said all teenagers in England wear their trousers below their arse and have big hoodie tops because I’d been to Brixton in London and seen this.

India should probably be called the United States of India because each state has its own language, culture and customs. They even have state laws, so some states are dry (like Gujurat) while others are fairly liberal with alcohol laws (like Goa). I’ve said it before and no doubt I’ll say it again, but you have to imagine Europe being one country and then you can understand how varied the India is and how difficult it must be to manage.

What’s more is that North India is different to South India. South India is generally (there goes those generalizations again!) considered to be more conservative than the North, so anytime I mention something being ridiculously conservative or prudish, it may not apply to North India.

Similarly the metros (that’s major cities to you and I) are a much different kettle of fish to the rural areas. It’s fairly safe to say that the metro cities are less conservative and traditional than the rural counter parts. Infact, someone told me that marriage within the family almost never happens within the city now πŸ™‚ awesome progress!

So when reading my blog and I use the stock phrase “in India”, consider the fact that I might be talking about something I saw down a side street in a slummy part of Chennai πŸ™‚

As one of my friends said: Everything you’ve heard or read about India is true. But then, the opposite is also true.

2 Comments The Two Indias and Generalizations

  1. Tom

    Thing is, you have to generalise or you wouldn’t get anything done. If you looked at the world in terms of individual quanta, you’d have to spend an infinite amount of time doing what amounts to nothing much at all. Sweeping statements are necessary; generalisations help to shrink the world down to chewable portions.

    Now go and fill in my Queen poll: http://bit.ly/9bMtsN

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  2. admin

    Well my defence is that I only write about what I see and observe, I try not to exaggerate too much, and it is very difficult not to generalize. If you see lots of men pissing against a wall (which happens a lot) then of course I’ll write that Indian men use the streets as their toilet. I can’t say that this type of person wouldn’t do it and so-and-so’s father and brother don’t it.

    It’s like saying everyone in England drinks way too much alcohol. There are those that do it in moderation and there are those that are teetotal. However it wouldn’t be untrue to say everyone drinks too much. Another one is that American’s are fat and stupid πŸ™‚

    So yes, if I see something happen frequently in India, I will tar everyone with the same brush. It might suck to be tarred, but I can’t make minuscule exceptions πŸ˜€

    @Tom: I filled in your poll, but I didn’t know any of the songs so I just chose the ones with the most interesting names, hope that’s ok!

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