The (un)Stylish Accent and Lifestyle Nonsense

There's the US accent and there's the UK accent but us Indians have our own versions of hybrid accents. Its funny when I see Indians in the IT field trying to roll their 'r's and puff their 'p's and miserably failing at it coz it still looks fake and in their process of trying to be stylish they actually forget what they're saying. They also forget that US accent is not just about rolling 'r's and puffing 'p's, its about clarity, and talking slowly. Some of them just end up talking like old American grandmas when they do the dragging instead of speaking slowly. Indians normally talk really fast and that's the only reason Americans find it difficult to understand us and not because our accent is different. One industry I've got to blame for this misconception is the call center services. They have made sure that everybody is accent trained but alas! everybody already knows that the customer care services are outsourced to India and every American knows where they are transferred to for their calls. So maybe we should just cut the crap and learn to be ourselves more than trying to imitate others.

Before US, I have to admit that I was fooled to. I really thought everybody who rolled their 'r's are truly speaking American. And today after 4 years in the US, I still find a lot of people doing that, but now I find it really funny coz I'm able to differentiate the Indian version of American accent. Have to confess I tried it to, and learning an entire new accent completely is not that easy as the call centers make it seem to be. So I just stuck to who I am and what I've been taught, the Indian accent. In fact I found that its easier to communicate with Americans when we're using our own accent without the fake American accent.

One thing we have to know is America is a global market and there are lots of people from different countries who speak English in different accents and Americans kind of get used to it. Have you ever heard a European or any other Asian speak perfect US English without a little bit of their own accent getting in the way? I don't think so, unless they're born and brought up in the US, even then some of them fail. Heck, the Spanish living in US don't even speak English sometimes. In fact learning Spanish is mandatory in US schools and Europeans are considered royalty while we who try to so stylishly learn US accent thinking its something out of this world are considered common labor. It becomes ridiculous when we try to fake it and get into our own version of it. I've heard Spanishers speak Americano and it sounds like gibberish. Maybe what we speak sounds like gibberish to them too but that's another story. Trust me I tried faking the US accent and nobody understood a single word of what I said. I switch back to my own Indi accent and they clearly understand me, so why bother, why all the fuss and trying to be someone you're not?

Accent is not the only thing, I come back to India and see how crazy people are about everything America does, we are so dependent on someone else for our chic lifestyles. It is so tiring and I must say at one point it feels downright stupid what we're trying to do. America praises Gangnam style and everybody is crooning about it everywhere in India, America introduces some stupid mf thing and its everywhere here in India. I'm so glad to see pani puri walas still selling something on the roads, so maybe there's still hope for people like me. I'm not saying I don't enjoy wearing jeans and like wearing churidars all the time but let me tell you churidars are a lot more comfortable than skinny jeans for the Indian climate.

There's a reason why people in America dress that way and why we dress this way and its so much easier to keep it that way. Do you know how difficult it is to change your entire wardrobe from Indian to American in order to adapt yourself to the culture and climatic conditions somewhere else? Its hard enough to do it when we go pardes but coming back and doing the same thing here when it is not at all comfortable feels stupid and ridiculous to me. I wanna be desi when I'm in my desh.

This confusion happens to Indians in US too, God they're so messed up, they don't know whether to be Indian or American. Cummon people, its simple!!! wear what should be worn wherever you are in the world, I cannot wear churidars in snowy Chicago winters and neither can I wear them during the extremely hot summers, trust me coz coming from -20c to 35c is not a joke and even a churidar is too much on your skin. But here in India skinny jean is just unbearable in this weather and I don't get it how people wear such thick garments in such hot sun n flaunt it like they're in some kind of snowy place.

Its the same with products, I see more than half of the brands here available in India when we don't really need them. Heavy greazy moistrurizers are not really useful here, what we need here are sunscreens to block out all that sun and alas I don't find a single good one here, its a shame we're developing in such a wrong way. If we really wanna imitate then we should be doing so in improving the actual system, the roads, the traffic, etc., seriously why don't we get this? I'm probably making some very fake person person really angry right now.

If we want Americans to be in business with us all they want from us is good work for less cost, and timely delivery, not the stupid accent n skinny jeans in hot weather. And if Americans want to do business with us its also their duty to understand our accent in the same way we're trying to understand theirs. Stop changing yourself for someone else and faking it and making it easy for them. If they want us they can have us the way we are and even then they'll have a lot of benefits. Anyways in the business world we can never be sure, today they want us and tomorrow they'll go to some other country who can offer them cheaper resources. In the process don't become fools.

Attracting foreigners to India is good but what good is a big mall (bigger than any malls I've seen in Chicago), when the road in front of it and the surrounding area is filthy? Tourists maybe come once/twice a year. Build something for the locals who stay here forever. We don't need malls carrying unnecessary western clothes from US brands, we need a proper roads, transport, and traffic system. Does anybody else understand this nonsense that's going on? Please leave me your feedback if you do too.

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Chicky a.k.a. Kaddu said...

Hey Rads,

I know what u mean. I've worked in the call center industry for almost 2 years. The acquired "accent" lasted only through the training period though! When on floor, it didn't take me too long to realize that I could either focus on faking the accent or focus on resolving the issue with the customer's computer! Rate of speech had to be slowed down considerably though, for US customers.

Regarding clothes, best approach would obviously be that "when in Rome, do as they Romans do"! I can't imagine girls going out wearing shorts & spaghetti tops in the angry summer sun of Rajasthan! Although that might be the perfect summer wear for a lot of places in the States!

rads said...

Hey Kaddu! My God you exactly got my point...I was expecting some angry negative comments but you totally stunned me by understanding n supporting my views. Thanks so much :)

mythri n said...

We followed British-style systems and now its American-style. Right, makes you think, are we just copycats?
Pani-puri wallas..haha can relate! it is annoying to go out for pizzas or macDs when u'r visiting back home.

rads said...

Exactly Mythri! Whenever I see a McD here I just go "ugh! can it get any more unoriginal?"

Rama Ananth said...

I like to dress the way I feel like, and I am comfortable in that.
I do find wearing pants comfortable whether in India or abroad. It is true during winter whether there is snow or not, I find wearing pants and coat/ jacket very comfortable rather than shawls and certain type of sweaters that are more suitable for Indian winters/Indian style.
When I go abroad I wear the same type of short tops, very colorful and bright as I wear in India, and believe me, I have got so many compliments for wearing them. I can't be wearing dull colors like them whether it is winter or summer.
It depends on how one is able to carry oneself, though I don't claim to be an expert in that.
Also I have understood that westerners understand only when spoken slowly, and I have always spoken the way I speak here in India, and got lot of appreciation for my spoken English.
Though it is fun to cultivate an American or a typical English accent, we may lose our point if we tried to use it in our everyday life.
However, I have seen some relatives speak with absolute fluency in both America and in England with the local accent, and also speak with their relatives and close friends from India in the regular Indian style.
And believe me there is no faking in their accent.
For example, my Hindi is so good that people often think I am from UP, though I am a typical South Indian, a Tamilian. Because of living in the north and listening and speaking Hindi with them all the time, I don't have a accent. And it feels good to speak Hindi without the typical south indian accent.
So I suppose many people who have a flair for languages may easily be able to pick the local way of speaking, just like some of my relatives and friends living abroad.
Yes there are fakes everywhere, one has to put up with them, for this is a free world.
I have come to your blog after years.

Rads said...

@Rama: I'm so sorry I haven't published your comment till now. I kind of abandoned my blog for a long time and only now saw the comments awaiting moderation.

Anyways, I just wanted to make myself clear that I'm not talking about Indians born and brought up abroad, technically they are not Indians anymore. And I do agree that people brought up in foreign countries do have very good accents and obviously not fake. I was referring to Indians living in India who try to imitate foreign accents.

And about the clothing, yes wear what you like and what you are comfortable in; I'm not really criticizing anyone here but it's just my opinion that when you are in Rome be a Roman.

Thanks for dropping by, I really appreciate it :)