Desi Date
Originally uploaded by Raja Islam

Desis love to keep their romance under wraps for years on end, even after the remotest of their acquaintances have guessed and gossiped heartily about their relationship status (and gotten well beyond bored of it).

In the arsenal of the clandestine desi love birds , we find vehement and often rational denials (“My friend, really? Of all people YOU think I’m seeing HER??!!??”) , well-conjured up alibis (” I needed to be there to pick up her roomie, yaar”), carefully thought out excuses (” See you guys later, I have some urgent work!” :P) and a trusted confidant(e) (akin to a magician’s assistant, picked out from the audience to add to the authenticity of the trick).

As a rule of nature, everything gets old over time. But the never-say-“yes, we are an item” desi couple flout this law by coming up with newer (and lamer) excuses ; some of which, put to shame classics like “the dog ate my homework”. Even the peskiest of your friends, with all their coaxing and cajoling skills, can at best get a relative percentage value of commitment from either of the two ( “Maybe 60%, I am seeing her and 40% she is”).

With the cat never, ever let out of the bag, it suffocates and chokes to death. Often, such occasions are marked by the unsurprising announcement of the wedding, with a sense of ‘thank god, its over’ feeling overwhelming friends. Details of the well-guarded stealth operation are revealed from then on, dispelling common desi romance myths (the newbies at the game take liberal notes of all those early morning dates which fooled literally,everyone 😉 ) . The couple and the confidant(e) basking in the smugness of it all; living happily ever after.


#41 Amway

The business acumen of your average desi is unquestionable, but there are only a chosen few of them who have seen the real path to enlightenment. And these desis will leave no stone unturned in their efforts to emancipate you from a life of ignorance and ostensible poverty.

That path is Amway and its many other smarter- than- thou variants which will literally make you sell magic cool-aid on your way to making astronomical fortunes and enabling you to win the next marathon you compete in (just a friendly side effect).

The products are so potent that their effects instill an overwhelming amount of self-belief into an otherwise “god- fearing, regular, middle-class” desi. Almost overflowing with this unshakeable confidence, these desis courageously masquerade around in shopping malls, restaurants, parking lots and airports alike in a determined effort to accost people who are perfect strangers to them, but look like wrethched souls who would want to make an extra buck or two in their lives. Sure! Who doesn’t? All you need, is “an open mind” 😉

The enlightened ones are curious about your interests and hobbies, your planned retirement age and your phone number, amongst other things. They might have also seen you in college or their wives might need ” your help” on a flight. And they are only too eager to share their details with you since they’ve been chatting with you for an entire minute now!

Opportunity knocks your door several bazzillion times until the door finally caves in or of course you agree to attend an elightenment session with their established guru, who will draw elaborate diagrams and make grand presentations on how you can achieve ultimate financial freedom in your lives. Why work so hard, when all you have to do is sell stuff to people who will in turn be elevated to the oh-so-sought-after “early retirement” status ?

The fairy tale lives of these fortunate desis are full of happiness and success derived from selling products for the betterment of humanity. Hang out at the Macy’s nearest to you this weekend and you could be a chosen one too, all you have to then do is…BELIEVE. No wait, sell actually 😛

#40 Temples

Desis love their temples and build them wherever they go. Temples come in several sizes and shapes in several countries outside India.

Goddess Lakshmi can be seen showering not just rupees but currencies from around the world in their respective local temples. Almost all of the United States have at least one hindu temple, with big/dense states having tens of them.

Temples are the places of gathering for Desis, movie theaters and grocery stores being a close-second. Temple notice boards can have a dazzling variety of flyers ranging from ‘Camry for sale’ to furniture to music classes to India tickets to SP Balasubramanyam’s benefit show to a local desi DJ party. An occasional resume looking for a job should not come as a terrible surprise.

Temples, by rule, are part of visiting parents’ itinerary. This sometimes includes driving hundreds of miles to visit a major temple like the Pittsburgh Venkateswara temple which is often given the same iconic status as Tirupathi or Srirangam.

Hindu Temple Parking Space
Originally uploaded by kaysov

Visiting folks and FOBs are shown and asked to wonder at air-conditioning system, fire sprinklers and other building code compliances inside the temples. Temples in the United States come with additional desi compliances like parking spaces for Car Pooja.

An occasional white in a Hindu temple gets good stares. White in Indian clothes? Extra stares.

#39 Goatees

Yes, go ahead blame this one on bollywood. The year was 2001. In the autumn month of August, as a then nearly2876741907_34cb0032b4forty year old Aamir Khan pranced around the silver screen with that ever so tiny clump of hair on his chin, desi men around the world watched in awe and how!

The modest fashion sensibilities of desis had been transformed forever as brand new vistas of possibilities opened up. Desis realized the exclusiveness the goatee bought and they all started to grow facial hair fervently. Some even took indefinite vacation only to reappear in the civil society with their own brand of bad-ass facial hair.

Goatees give desi men confidence , which goes great with gelled hair. Goatees also counterbalance the weight of the chin, putting their tongues in the perfect position to switch between accents.

Till this day, desis continue to buck the fashion trend by sporting the charismatic goatee in various shapes and sizes that continue to redefine what was earlier thought to be just a passing fad.

Pick your desi friends wisely. The ones with the goatees might just be the ones who happen to know everything.

ps: just like all toothpastes are colgate in ‘desi’, all facial hair type is referred to as ‘goatee’ here . We preferred not to use the other desi term for it which also happens to be the  brand name of an  underwear 😉

#38 Being Everywhere

Thank you – Come again
Originally uploaded by Jeff B

The concept of a land far far away becomes woefully inapplicable in the case of desis. From the remote islands of Fiji to the never ending animated satirical world of the Simpsons, you’ll find a desi everywhere.

Global desi presence infuses a lot of familial pride into a desi. More importantly, every time the desi feels a lack of <insert latest Apple gizmo> or a conversation topic he can always rely upon that aunt in New Jersey, or that uncle in the bay area or that cousin in the UK.

With relatives and friends spread across the length and breadth  of countries like the US, desis can remain busy hopping between mofussil towns attending desi parties in each town.

Being everywhere also allows the patriotic desi media to take pride in a US senator having Indian roots or on an English film on Mumbai putting Bollywood on the world stage (the Kodak theatre stage really :P) . This national pride is also enthusiastically reflected on a desi’s countenance when explaining the goings-on in a SRK film to a non-desi.

Note that settling amongst different cultures does not deter desis from doing the same things everywhere, like opening a grocery store, starting a motel or playing the only sport they know. Don’t be too surprised if you ever get to watch a cricket game between Italy and Ghana with a Singh bowling to a Patel.

#37 Potluck Parties

Desi Potluck
Originally uploaded by kaysov

If you are a desi and you haven’t been to at least one potluck party in the last two weeks, you are probably a loner or a fringe-desi. If you have been to three potluck parties in the last two weeks, well, you are a desi.

For desis, a zillion potluck parties, week after week, don’t suck the life out of them. Hindu festivals, birthdays, Bollywood movie releases, India trips and any other nondescript celebration calls for a potluck.

Dishes are carefully chosen to avoid repetition, but Paneer obviously sticks. Every party has a critic de jure and a critic de facto offering their free reviews of all the dishes.

While devouring food, desi gatherings never split up into smaller groups for conversation. It is always one large group sitting in a circle and talking over each other, roaring into a communal laughter every couple of minutes.

Potlucks are most often succeeded either by a Bollywood movie or a party game. Dumb charades, poker and mafia are absolute favorites.

For many desis, Thanksgiving is a series of potluck parties interspersed by bargain hunting.

#36 Fair skinned kids

Kids on BART
Originally uploaded by marytsao

Desis love fair/white skin color. They love it so much that they aspire for fairer skin color for their kids. Fair skinned kids are LOVED. They are paraded amongst friends and relatives with pride but with a tinge of ‘warding off the evil eye’.

However, dark color skinned kids are less fortunate. It is not uncommon for a distant aunt to surface the deep seated desire of parents yearning for better complexion for their kid. Dark skinned baby girls are more likely to disappoint such pecking scornful aunts.

This love for white skinned kids, leaves desis staring at white kids in public  in the West. The staring quickly morphs into a beaming smile that is multi purposed in nature, the first one being, the obvious evolutionary response to cute baby faces.

Other purposes are less obvious. Desis appreciate the cute accent and fluency of the kid’s English, with great regret of a missed opportunity. They yearn to make eye and verbal contact with accompanying kid’s parents and tell them how lovely and cute their child is. They might even start missing their future non-bi-racial kid who, they think, might never be this cute.

PS: Cringe reaction of desi in-laws to marrying out of caste, religion or race may sometimes be appeased with the lured prospect of having a fairer skinned grand children.

PPS: ¡¡Viva Obama!! and Happy Children’s Day