1. We know how to throw a good party.
India has over 1.2 billion people, so there’s a LOT of diversity. No matter when you visit, you’ll come across at least one festival. We have Muslim brothers lighting fireworks on Diwali (the Hindu festival), Muslims and Hindus dancing around the fire at Lohri (the Sikh festival), and Hindus visiting their Muslim friends’ houses to stuff themselves with enormous plates of sewai (rice vermicelli) on Eid, the Muslim Festival of Sacrifice.
If you happen to be in India at an odd time when there are no festivals, there are Indian weddings that last forever — from one week before the wedding day to a few days following it.
2. We dance our hearts out.
We Indians get this crazy kind of rush when we dance. The world disappears. Any gathering is a curse if we can’t dance. And when we dance, it’s like every inch of our bodies wiggle and wobble uncontrollably.
I once went to a lavish wedding for a family friend, and suddenly a 20-something guy wearing a well-fitted suit started slithering across the dance floor, mimicking a snake. It wasn’t long before some other guys joined him. They were sober.
3. We live colourful lives.
Indians are a huge fan of vibrant colours — just check out our costumes from Gujrat, Rajasthan, and Punjab. To liven up our surroundings, we play draw rangoli, a folk art where patterns are created on floors using colored rice, flour, sand, and flower petals.
India is a great place for photographers. You’ll find colorful spices, dyes, temples, mosques, and everything else in its most vivid form. In Rajasthan are Jaipur and Jodhpur, known as “pink city” and “blue city,” respectively. Jaipur has structures made of pink sandstone, and Jodhpur has a section of lively blue-coloured houses near the Mehrangarh fort.
4. We’re excellent at mehmaan nawaazi (hospitality).
When you’re visiting a friend’s house for lunch, get ready to stuff yourself with delicious food until your stomach bursts. And when it does burst, your friend’s mother still won’t stop feeding you. Indians are famous for warm hospitality, and within a few minutes you’ll have become part of the family. Since a guest is traditionally considered god’s messenger, we reserve special bedsheets and cutlery for the occasion.
5. We’re pretty smart.
According to Rediff, American venture capitalist Robert Compton suggests that Indian and Chinese students are spending longer hours studying than the average American student. Half of the H-1B visas to the US are allotted to Indian engineers every year, says EEtimes. Thirty-six percent of NASA scientists are Indians. Apparently, we’re too busy putting our skills to use in other countries to improve our own. But, hey, the world needs us.
6. We know a penny’s worth.
We know the value of hard-earned money. Even a rich Indian family spends wisely. We have some great wit when it comes to prioritizing how to spend on needs and desires. Call us misers, but when a t-shirt gets old, we wear it for Holi, and then use it as a mop or duster until it simply vanishes.
My grandfather, who’s 87 years old, prefers to walk a few miles rather than pay for a rikshaw taxi. And when we ask him why he does such a thing, he tries to pretend it’s all about fitness.
7. We have Bollywood.
In terms of total viewership, Bollywood overtook Hollywood in 2004 and has been leading ever since. According to Hubpages, “Hollywood produces 500 films per year on average and has a worldwide audience of 2.6 billion, whereas Bollywood produces more than 1,000 films every year and has a worldwide audience of 3 billion.”
Chuck the fact and statistics — it’s easy to get addicted to Bollywood. It’s not just about the music, either; the dialogues of Bollywood movies are well acted, even by the child actors. During the release of Ghajini, half the boys in my city copied Aamir Khan’s almost-bald hairstyle, down to the stitch-marks on his head, and girls started wearing geeky glasses like Preity Zinta in Kal Ho Na Ho.
I have a friend who always changes his hair and beard style to match the latest look of Salman Khan. He even wears Khan’s signature blue bracelet.
8. Our struggle for independence has made us strong.
We have Mahatma Gandhi, Rani of Jhasi, Bhagat Singh, and other selfless freedom fighters. Mahatma Gandhi made us believe that even a furiously violent act can be defeated with the power of truth and nonviolence. Bhagat Singh taught us to never bow in front of evil or compromise your self respect. Rani of Jhansi told us that a woman can overtake an entire army of men if she wants to. We’re proud of these heroes, and strive to be strong and brave, too.