How can you tell Indian Americans and Indians apart, based solely on looks?

Answer by Raakhee V. Menon:

Thank you for the A2A.

Oh this one’s easy-peasy. My sister and I have devised this fool-proof method to identify Indian Americans who are found in plenty in my home-state of Kerala. A lot of them would come down for the summer at around the same time we flew down ourselves from the Middle east. So it used to be a childhood past-time to do this guessing game. And most times we’d be right 😀

First and foremost…Indian Americans are obsessed with sneakers, for some reason. Almost every Indian American family will be seen in sneakers of different kinds – Skechers, Reebok, Nike, etc. For most regular Indians, footwear comprises of more comfortable and airy stuff like sandals, flip flops and floaters.

Indian Americans don’t feel odd to sport a baseball cap while walking on the streets in India. This also holds true for ladies in large elaborate sun hats. Most Indians wouldn’t be comfortable to be seen in a cap or a hat on a regular day. Cultural differences.

Their dressing styles are markedly different too. Indian Americans are often seen in casual tees and Bermudas or a pair of jeans, and they never step out of their homes without their sunglasses.

Indian Americans HAVE to have that bottle of mineral water in their hands all the time! Maybe they get more quickly dehydrated than their regular Indian counterparts. I don’t know for sure.

Cross-body satchels! That’s a part of the attire for any Indian American – the father, mother, the kids, all of them! Or the women would carry oversized handbags. This is not very common among regular Indians. The women would typically carry small handbags and the men would just load their wallets with stuff until it looks like it would burst any minute! Recently, the trend of backpacks have grown popular among the youngsters.

Body-language is another factor. Indian Americans make a lot of eye-contact and most of them would have picked up the American way of turning their bodies towards a person when they’re talking to them. They smile a LOT when they talk to someone, thereby establishing an automatic warm camaraderie between themselves and the people they’re talking with. There’s a lot of head nodding and head shaking too to emphasize what they’re trying to tell you. Regular Indians don’t do most of that. And we all know of the Indian head shake. Not going there, folks.

We have also noticed that most of the ladies among Indians American would have their hair put up in a messy knot and the younger girls typically leave their hair open. In many communities in India, it is not allowed for women/girls to walk around with their hair left open. Reasons may be religious, cultural or a mix of both. So most regular Indian women and girls would be seen with their hair neatly braided or tied into a neat knot at the nape of the neck.

Most Indian American kids would be seen all the time with at least one modern electronic gadget on them. When we were younger, they had Gameboy consoles. Now they have iPads. That’s the only difference. Regular Indian kids, even if they have gadgets, typically don’t have the habit of carrying them along with them when they go outside for shopping or visiting relatives.

Most of the Indian American womenfolk don’t wear too much jewelry on a regular day. Most of the jewelry they wear are simple diamond ear studs or a platinum ring or a fancy bracelet at their flashiest best. Most regular Indian women wear bangles, earrings, toe-rings (married ladies) and at least one chain around their neck as a part of their daily attire. This is on a regular day. Of course everyone decks up for special occasions.

Of course this is a gross generalization. There are all kinds of people on both sides. We have also seen some extremely traditional Indian Americans and some ultra modern regular Indians too. Despite all these differences, we all have the same beautiful skin and shapely facial features.

Happy Republic Day, everyone!

Jai Hind! ^_^

How can you tell Indian Americans and Indians apart, based solely on looks?


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