16/05/2016 8:24 AM IST | Updated 15/07/2016 8:26 AM IST

17 Signs That You're An Expat Who Might Be Turning Indian

Indian Girl showing her Heena Tattoo
Vikram Raghuvanshi via Getty Images
Indian Girl showing her Heena Tattoo

After so much time in India, it seems I am turning Indian. It's the small things I catch myself doing or someone points out to me. But I'm not the only one. The longer they stay in India, the more I see many expat friends changing. Immersing yourself in a strong, unchangeable culture like India means that you'll inevitably change some habits to fit in.

1. You start doing "the head wobble"

The most obvious to the people around you will be "the head wobble". If you're doing this, you've let India in. Sometimes I do it on the phone and I forget they can't see me answering. You don't know exactly when the head wobble became your primary form of answering questions but to be honest, you kind of love it.

In case you're unaware, the head wobble can mean literally anything from yes, no, maybe, probably, or it's not likely but we'll see tomorrow... just with a little different facial expressions, speed and angle!

The head wobble can mean literally anything from yes, no, maybe, probably, or it's not likely but we'll see tomorrow...

2. You buy VERY local food

You don't like to buy bread from anyone except the local bakers that send out boys on bikes. They summon you by ringing their bell and you need to have your ₹18 ready to get your six pao for the next few days. You definitely have a secret restaurant to get home-cooked Indian meals or hot soup when you're sick. You can even text the owner and ask her to please send it to your house when you really can't be bothered to leave home.

3. You have a friend who is your "helper"

You need help in India and your best buddy can help you with just about anything. Mine is a taxi driver who helps me with tons in Goa. He seems to know all the answers.

Then there are the "boys". Need the car washed, the carry-out dinner picked up, the phone recharged or milk fetched from the shop? If it's become second nature to pay someone to go take care of your chores, you're slowly becoming Indian (more specifically, a middle-class one). It's nothing to feel bad about as it keeps people making money!

4. You have a bindi obsession

If you're a woman you want to wear one every day all day, and if you're a guy you love to see girls wearing them. Also, I hear they're going out of style but I pray it isn't true.

5. You don't need toilet paper anymore

You think it's nice for an added drying off, but totally not necessary anymore thanks to the sprayer. No more details needed here.

6. Your Hinglish comes naturally

Sometimes you write/speak in broken Hindi-English when you're trying to text or speak English only.

You are starting to add "only" to the end of sentences and use fragments as sentences far too often. Oh yes, there are occasions that "time pass" comes up in your conversations.

Suddenly one day, you think, "Man I need a sweet lime soda... wait why am I thinking this? I hate sweet lime soda!"

7. You drive & don't bat an eyelash at the craziness

You used to think driving was such a challenge so you started out living in India with a driver taking you everywhere. Now, you don't break a sweat even in the worst of traffic. You pass two semi-trucks at a time now (around a curve when you can't see what's coming. Just kidding. I hope you're not that Indian driver).


8. You're a believer in oil & holistic medicine

So much oil... on your skin... in your hair... on scars... You're probably really into coconut oil. You might have also be deep-frying a lot. If you saw the commercial for an air fryer and thought, "No, I'll keep my big pot of pure oil to cook everything in", good job... you're turning Indian! You hit up the hospital when necessary, but for smaller issues you use Ayurvedic treatments and dietary changes, as per your doctor's orders.

9. You like sweet lime soda and sugarcane

You use to hate both, the sugarcane even made you sick. Then suddenly one day, you think, "Man I need a sweet lime soda... wait why am I thinking this? I hate sweet lime soda!" Slowly, you start to like it. You stop on the street and pull over the car for sugarcane. You're starting to become confused about your identity now!

You find yourself clicking on blog links to see who Alia Bhatt is dating.

10. You know how to get by without an oven

Not having an oven doesn't faze you anymore.

You might be unlucky enough to have one burner only (did you catch that only?), so when you fry bacon, you set that aside, then you bake beans, set that aside, THEN you fry the egg... THEN reheat it all a little bit... then eat!

11. You've started jumping queues

You jump lines sometimes. It's the ONLY way to get things done around here. You won't jump if the line is a nice straight single file... but if it's a messy free for all, you're going to be first. Indians don't bat an eyelash, as they think, "Ah smart girl" since cutting in line is an (annoying) staple in Indian culture.

On the other hand... just imagine someone trying to jump line in front of you. You wouldn't allow it.

12. You indulge in Indian celebrity gossip

You watch Looks Who's Talking With Niranjan or Koffee with Karan and laugh over the crazy answers celebs give. "If you could have dinner with one person dead or alive who would it be?" Indian celeb answer: "Myself... I am the most interesting person I know". You find yourself clicking on blog links to see who Alia Bhatt is dating.

13. You speak a little Hindi or other local language

Maybe you took classes, or you just started picking it up. You probably like to practice with your Indian friends and surprise drivers with grammatically incorrect nonsense: "Hi friend... that tree is green. You are good. I like many vegetables. That cow is pretty!" Man, that felt good but the driver has no idea where to take you.

You hate that because you're a foreigner, they tone down the spice to non-existent.

14. You're unfazed by wild animals

King cobra by the trash cans? Another 8-foot python in the back garden? Monkeys screeching as your wake-up call? It's all becoming pretty normal to you. While at one time, you couldn't even look at a photo of a snake, now you swerve past a monster python in Goa or don't take a second glance at a snake charmer's open basket. You're not afraid to take hikes anymore.


15. You have a shop for everything

It used to be a prime parking spot at Walmart and getting all your errands done in one place, easy peasy... so maybe it took you a while to get used to having to go somewhere new for each errand.

16. You have to ask for spice

You hate that because you're a foreigner, they tone down the spice to non-existent. So, you have to tell them to make it normal. When a friend comes into town, you eat the same thing but while they get a very sick stomach, your guts of steel help you feel just fine.

17. You love the funny customs and festivals

Even if you don't understand them. You love when people go by with giant Ganesha statues and throw them in wells. Or when they climb human pyramids to grab a "bowl of curd" and actually risk their lives. You don't bat an eyelash when people go past in a huge group singing and playing drums. It's become something you love. Although the dry days that accompany the many holidays aren't your favourite.

So, are you becoming a little bit Indian? This post was originally 22 Ways You Might be Turning Indian and you can check out the full text there.

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