Certain Unexpected Downsides

First, a question: am I racist if I have trouble not laughing at my own people?

All right, now to clarify. The company I work for is, like so many other software firms in the Bay Area, stuffed to the gills with Asians* of every kind. This is perfectly fine, although bewildering, because between nine am and seven pm I’m not quite sure if I’m in the United States or if I’ve stepped through some kind of teleportation device and landed up a few thousand miles west (or east, if that’s how you travel). Apparently California is just like this.

That’s fine, as I’ve said, but, well… I’m not Indian. Not by nationality, anyway, and equally certainly not by religion or culture. By upbringing, yes, and I’m always awed and humbled by the weight of the tradition that supports everything my community does, but at least superficially, I don’t quite fit into this neat little matrix of “Indian”. It feels weird, especially because I’m also Singaporean only by nationality, and American only by choice, but that’s a post for another time. Either way, I’m not Indian, and so perhaps because of the lack of exposure, hearing Indian-English being spoken seems to trigger homicidal tendencies in me.

What I need to rant about now is precisely how annoyed I am by how much the Indians I’ve come across literally mangle the English language.

Look, I don’t want to get into an argument about how mongrel a language English is and why it’s perfectly fine for us to all speak it a different way, and how it’s evolving anyway. But English is a language dear to my heart, and I have more than my fair share of pet peeves. Okay?

I ask the reader to consider the following fragments:

a) “It is called as code integration.”

b) “Please unjip your file.”

c) “It compiles very fastly.”

d) “Myself is Insert Name Here.”

Every time these travesties happen, I have to physically stop myself twitching or rolling my eyes or falling about laughing. I can tolerate a bunch of other Indian-English tics, like the propensity to misplace every single article in a sentence, or using the word “revert” far too often than is necessary, or confusing singular and plural on a regular basis, but… really?

By the way, the next time you hear someone talking about how the Chinese suck at English, take a look at these. The Chinese I’ve met at work have so far been far more capable of speaking English than the Indians around me. If nothing else, this should add another dimension of concern to the China vs India debate (if that thing’s still going on).

About 90% of this is really just me being cranky, although I fear that if I continue to be exposed to such an environment of terrible English, my grammar and vocabulary skills will literally desert me. It’s also possible that I’m just annoyed by the fact that I have to spend most of my day listening to intense questions on subjects I know nothing about and am therefore forced to consistently feel like an idiot. These guys are smart; smarter and more experienced than I’ll ever be. Right, got it. But for the love of god would it hurt for them to speak decent English?

How does this awfulness even happen?!


*I use the word Asians in its proper sense, by the way, in the sense of “people from Asia”, which includes South as well as East Asians. I scorn this American version of Asians, I tell you, scorn it. What are we brown people then? Just… brown? That’s a colour, not a geographic point of reference. Come on.

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