Curious Chinese ask stereotypical questions about India; a smarty-pants answers them all

April 16, 2012Jing Gao12 Comments, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

The following content comes from a discussion thread in a forum in Baidu dedicated to topics related to CBS sit-com The Big Bang Theory. (A condensed version can be found here.)The author asserted that he spent 8 months in rural India and stayed with his Indian classmate, during which he did research for his thesis on India. In the first post he published on April 3, he said he is able to answer questions about India. Within the next two weeks, the thread received 12.4 million hits. So far, the thread contains 16,170 posts. We have hand-picked the most interesting and/or controversial Q&As, ranging from the caste system to democracy, from what Indian people eat to how they defecate, for translation.

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Disclaimer: translation does not imply endorsement or disproval.

Q: Compared to the Heavenly Kingdom (slang for China), India seems to have a similarly wide wealth gap?

A: Don’t compare. You would think Chinese lead a very happy life after you go to India. The pariah and the poor, which accounted for the majority of the population, do not even get the basic social security to cover their medical care, food or education. Please note, I am talking about basics, the most basic basics. No electricity, no tap water. Landlords in the rural area generate electric power themselves. Nowadays, cell phone in rural India is more commonly seen then before. But there is no place for recharging the battery. They have to go to a charging station to pay for the recharging. That’s why Chinese-made knock-off cell phones are the most popular there.

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Q: Is preference for boys over girls really that serious there?

A: Very very very very very very very very very serious. And this type of discrimination comes more from women than men. If a married woman in her 40s has only daughters and no son, she will be considered a jinx. Other women will shun her at first sight. There are just too many examples of preference for boys over girls. I can easily give a whole bunch of them.

Q: Is India (practicing) polygamy?

A: Not in law. But in practice, it is common in the rural area. Landlords and aristocrats usually observe monogamy strictly, but usually better-off peasants love to have multiple wives (to increase labor force)

Q: How do ordinary Indian people view China and Chinese people?

A: They probably don’t even know there is a country called China.

Q: Is the caste system still there in India?

A: Yes, there is, a very rigid one.

Q: India is a federation of states. What specific autonomous rights does an individual state have? Have you ever seen any election held in India at a certain level?

A: I don’t major in political science, so I don’t know much about it. I did see an election. Basically, peasants don’t cast votes for themselves. They all have to listen to landlords and aristocrats, and vote for whomever they order them to vote for. So usually votes of an entire village are concentrated on a single candidate.

Q: Let me ask a hardcore question: how do you wipe your butt there (after your are done with using the bathroom)?

A: Okay, let me give you a hard-core answer: sometimes it is the male servant of my classmate.

Q: What do you mean? The male servant wiped your butt for you? Using his hand? Or what? (Wow, the male servant is really maltreated.)

A: Because restrooms there are really unsanitary. In the rural area, there is no flush toilet even in a landlord’s home (because there is no water supply.) So I didn’t even have the courage to go to the restroom. Then my classmate learned about it. So he sent his male servant to my room with a pot. After I was done with it, he wiped me with a warm towel.

Q: Didn’t you feel uncomfortable about being taken care of by the male servant when you were are defecting? It seems that in India, intimacy between two men is not considered homosexuality. They seem to be on alert for relationship between a man and a woman, but what exists between two men is really eye-opening!

A: Honestly, I felt very awkward at first. But men are sluggish. I even felt very comfortable after I got used to it. Intimacy between two men is defined as brotherhood and seldom gay.

Q: They really use their left hands to wipe themselves after they are done using the bathroom?

A: Yes. Low-caste people do use hands. Some even scrape with wood chips.

Q: When you were in India, what international and domestic affairs did the mainstream India press pay attention to?

A: Basically they copy everything from CNN. And India seems to have no correspondent stationed in countries other than the United States and Britain.

Q: What are their aesthetic judgments/views? Are they similar to ours, or do they think being brown/black is beautiful? (I can’t believe I’ve come up with this question- -)

A: People of high castes, especially Brahmins, definitely regard fair skin as beautiful. Don’t know about peasants.

Q: So two people ask about each other’s caste before starting a romantic relationship? That’s really weird!

A: It actually won’t happen, as one’s caste can be told from one’s appearance.

Q: The post author, what you describe must be atypical in India, right? Isn’t India a democracy? There must be pariahs who studied really hard and went to college before getting a decent job and money. Will they still be pariahs? Can’t those successful pariahs marry one from the aristocracy?

A: India is a democratic society, but it doesn’t mean it is ruled by the people. India’s educational policy is that anyone can study, go to college and be a civil servant. Even inter-caste marriage is allowed. But in reality these are hard to achieve. A female parliamentary member is a pariah. But even she can’t marry one from the high caste. (In fact, her father is from the high caste and her mother is from the low caste, which makes her a pariah.)

Q: If talking only about its regional cultures, do you like India? Do you think the Heavenly Kingdom has anything to learn from India?

A: I like its traditional architecture very much. The combination of traditional female clothing and modernity is also perfect. Talking about learning from India, I don’t think China needs to learn anything. Hypocritical democracy is nothing but a huge loincloth (fig leaf).

Q: Why did you stay in India’s rural area for 8 months? Do they reject you, a foreign national? Anything fun? Or anything memorable? Thank you for sharing this with us. It is indeed a good post……

A: I major in sociology. My thesis was on modern feudal society. Rural India is an ideal place for my research. In urban India, there are too many tourists, and I was often mistaken for a Japanese. In the rural area, because my classmate is the biggest landlord in the region, all peasants respected me. His male servants would kneel down at my bedside when I was about to wake up, and dress me in socks and clothes after I woke up.

Q: Wow, sounds creepy. Didn’t you feel scary? Did you try to stop these things?

A: I did try to stop them from, say, kneeling down and dressing me in shoes. But then my classmate’s mother found out about it and reprimanded those male servants and even cut their pay. So I had to accept it, and gave them each 200 U.S. dollars. (Their monthly pay is 300 U.S. dollars, which is very high by Indian standard.) His mother even asked me to keep it a secret, saying that if my classmate’s father knew the guest was not well-served, he would definitely kick the servants out of the village as outcasts.

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Q: You have said that the stratification of castes in India is so distinct. Does it mean that you can even tell it on the streets? Is it true that low-castes cannot even have a seat on a public bus? Besides, India has so many people. If in places where people have to queue, do they line up according to their casts? Do you have any contact with a pariah? It is so hard to imagine a society like that…
A: There is no segregation policy written in law. But people stand apart of their own accord. As for queuing, for example, for a sports game, the pricing system has already set people apart. People of low castes cannot board a first-class coach of an airplane or a train. I tried to communicate with pariahs. But many of them cannot speak the lingua franca of India, and communication is totally impossible. After learning that I went to villages of pariahs, my classmate’s mother ordered a female servant to wash my feet with milk and salt (milk is sacred, salt is for fending off evil spirits) and burn my shows….

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This is a picture I took secretly: One day, a peasant greeted the little brother of my classmate.
Q: Why he was greeted this way? Is it simply because his family are landlords, or because his family are Brahmins? Or like you said, it is simply because his family enjoyed a high reputation locally?

A: Indians think feet are dirty. Kissing one’s dirtiest place means absolutely loyalty to this person.

Q: So, anyone of lower caste must kiss the shoe of a person of a higher caste without exception? Or there are differences, which means a person one caste lower simply needs to give a little gesture, whereas pariahs must take it to the next level?

A: Pariahs are untouchable. Kissing feet doesn’t have to be done to people of higher castes. It is done to one’s lord and boss.

Q: What do Indian people wear?

A: Women wear sari. Men must grow a beard.

Q: Can Indian people have access to the Internet? Is it expensive?

A: They can in big cities. There are many WiFi hotspots in Mumbai. Internet connection doesn’t cost much, but it is terribly slow. It has improved a lot after Huawei enters the Indian market.

Q: Since it is said that an Indian woman cannot take her dowry with her after divorce, why a man will burn his ex-wife instead of simply filing for a divorce when he wants to marry a second wife with more dowry?

A: He cannot easily divorce his wife if she has not done anything wrong. Burning her to death is easier than divorcing her.

Q: I once saw (a post about) a girl who angrily filed divorce after having provided a dowry worth US$200,000. But her fiancé’s family still thought that wasn’t enough. Half of that money probably won’t even be needed. And the money must be more than enough for her to find a good husband abroad. Perhaps in Indian tradition, women should never live alone with a dowry that is enough to support them for the rest of their lives, but with this money, they can easily find one to marry even among white people, whom they regard as superior, let alone among greedy Indian men. Isn’t it true?

A: Women who remain unmarried after age 25, and women who marry foreigners, are all considered a shame and a family disgrace.

Q: I have a teacher who is a mixed-blood of British and Indian ancestry. His father went to Britain and married a British woman. So do people like his father, who went abroad and got married abroad still count as an aristocrat?

A: They are, if the patriarchs grant it, like sons of Sonia & Rajiv Gandhi.

Q: Where in India did you, the post author, go? Do you mind telling us?

A: Assam, which is very next to Tibet.

Q: What is the staple food of Indian people?

A: Curry, Curry, Curry.

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Q: What, apart from some cannon fodder and food, can be mobilized and utilized in India’s rural area? Many comments believe that Indian peasants are superfluous people. They, whether dead or alive, have no significance to India’s modern society whatsoever. For example, if we go to war with Indians, the 1 billion Indian peasants would contribute nothing…What do you, the post author, think of such comments?

A: I agree with the rest of your opinion. They do have very little physical strength, and fighting a war for them is very difficult. But in terms of the modernization process of India, the loss of these people as cheap labor force and food providers will be unimaginable. To a landlord’s family, hiring five male servants and five female servants only costs less than 1,000 U.S. dollars a month. But they definitely cannot survive if they lose the ten servants.

Q: How do Indian people view Chinese girls????
A: High-caste people: ‘Too conservative. Have a good nose (good sense of smell).’
Low-caste people: ‘Too out-going. All of them are pretty, but good at Kung Fu. Had better not to mess with them.’
Q: Another question: every one knows that in the Heavenly Kingdom, with connections, family influence, and/or money, everything goes on oiled wheels. Is it the same in India? Or their traditions are so dominant that no matter how rich you are, a pariah would be a pariah, and you still cannot sit in the first-class coach of an airplane?

A: There is no relevant law. But in practice, the traditions are so dominant that no matter how rich you are, a pariah would be a pariah, and you still cannot sit in the first-class coach of an airplane. This is true.

Q: Is water from the Ganges drinkable?

A: The digestive system of Indians has definitely been upgraded. Even though Chinese have been armored with gutter oil to be impregnable do all kinds of poison, in the face of water from the Ganges, their combat power drops to only 5 (probably on a scale of 10).

Q: Indians must have become super-immune after the lasting combat. But I watched a film, in which a foreigner can have diarrhea from even drinking beverage sold by street vendors, let alone water from the mother river, where they pee, poop and wash.

A: I was once hit hard. I bought a bottle of peppermint drink, a local specialty. 30 minutes later, I began to have loose bowels. I received intravenous drips for the next three days…

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Q: Are the furniture and electronics at you friend’s home foreign-made or domestic-made? Are there many Made-In-Chinas in India?

A: I have never seen any electric appliance made in India… Chinese-made motorcycles and cellphones are very prevalent in India.

Q: I’ve heard that in modern India, because Brahmins are only permitted to enter a few professions determined by their own caste, many Brahmins are not necessarily rich. In contrast, young Vaishyas and Sudras are able to go abroad and work in the IT industry, which makes them rich. Is it true? I have been wondering about this for long. I look forward to the post author’s answer.

A: It is true in urban India. But the good thing about being a Brahmin is you never suffer from hunger. Temples ration out money and food every season. Brahmins in rural India are usually richer (than in urban India).

Q: Is private gun ownership permitted in India? What castes do Indian cops belong to? Is there a caste system in the army?

A: They can own hunting rifles. Cops are low-caste people. On the surface, there is no caste system in the army. On a different subject, in the Mumbai bombing attack, Indians rocked the world with their war on terrorism using bamboo sticks.

Q: Indians are probably lazier and less careful than Chinese when they perform tasks, right? Can Indian peasants afford a TV set? What newspapers and periodicals do they read?

A: Indians are not that lazy, at least more hardworking than African black people. A peasant who owns a land can afford a TV. But many places do not have power supply. Movies are more popular than TV programs.

Q: It seems becoming a pariah is really a punishment, which may result in more and more pariahs… What do your classmate think of liberty, equality, and fraternity?

A: Liberty, equality, and fraternity, he loves them all, only when they are restricted to the same caste…

Q: Can they afford a radio? There must be none (radio) if there is no electricity or water. Can Indian afford artificial fertilizers or pesticides when they grow crops?

A: There is a public stereo radio in every village. They can afford artificial fertilizers and pesticides when growing crops because they are provided by their landlords.

Q: I want to ask the post author: Are there any ‘phoenix men’ in India? Does it happen often that peasants try very hard to fund their children’s education and their children just stay in the city after graduation? (Note: The term “phoenix man” comes from an old saying that “a phoenix soars out of a chicken coop” and refers to men who grow up in the countryside, make it to university and land good jobs in the city.) How is universal education in India? Any national college entrance exam like our gao kao?

A: There are some (phoenix men), but not many. The government has enforced compulsory education, but has achieved little effect. There are national aptitude tests, but universities have their own admission exams.

Q: Do Indians mind being asked about their castes by nodding acquaintances if their last names are not known?

A: They do. People of low castes especially do.

Q: If I travel to India and sneak some beef jerky and beef sauce along with me, and am later caught by Indian when I am eating them, will I get beaten? Or will they feel offended? What if it is not jerky made from beef? What about yak jerky? Is it also forbidden like beef jerky?

A: You won’t get beaten, as long as you don’t give it to Indians.

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Q: Post author, how does your classmate view China, for example, its economy and traditions, and especially phenomenon like equality?

A: He thinks India is better than China. In India, he can get a lot of services for free that cannot be even bought in China. But (he thinks that) Chinese economy is doing better than that of India; China has more food. He is willing to travel here from time to time.

Q: I am very much overwhelmed. Right now, when Indian women seldom work, and people of low castes provided little productive power, Indian still managed to evolve into the current status: No. 10 in the world in terms of GDP and one of the BRICs. India has people at the bottom rung who, just like what the post author described, don’t want any changes, and yet it also has Maoists women who fight till the end. In the future, when conditions permit, its people will wake up, and it will become a country more powerful than ever. I truly don’t want such a country to be China’s neighbor. I mor or less hold a mentality towards India similar to that of Napoleon, who wanted China to keep sleeping. But such prayers will never be fulfilled. I guess India will take off in the near future. Hope we can find a way to coexist peacefully with it.

A: I don’t agree with you. Right now, the standards of living in India are so low that 200 Indians’ consumption is about the same as one American’s. But if the population remains this big, and everyone uses more resources, India will surely become Africa in chaos caused by war, and it will not be alleviated for another 100 years.

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12 comments to “Curious Chinese ask stereotypical questions about India; a smarty-pants answers them all”

  1. Alec | April 17, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Felt the questions were generally good questions and the askers seems genuinely interested, but without having been to India, I think the answers seem to be a load a bullcrap. The so-called expert is obviously very 愤青, and some of the answers seem to outlandish to be true. Having said that, I haven’t been to India so perhaps I’m wrong.

    • Jing Gao | April 18, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      Yeah, I agree with you. That’s why i used “smarty-pants” :D

      • Sriparna Pathak Raimedhi | February 13, 2013 | Permalink Reply

        Well, this guy has NEVER been to India. Trust me on that. I am an Indian woman, who is a PhD, works for the government, has married across what this smart a@@ calls ‘caste barriers’ (does not exist in my part of the world, in the India I have lived till before I moved to China); speaks six Indian languages, and three international languages (Chinese included), has the rights and liberties to eat beef, pork or whatever (Christian Indians, Muslim Indians do eat beef, which this smart a@@ has comfortably ignored! Since he is a sociologist, he should have included the tribes in India which also have the liberties to eat whatever form of meat they want to, but this a@@ has forgotten mentioning that, since he knows JACK S$%^ about India) Oh! Did I forget to mention that I am an atheist by choice and that it is allowed in India? I choose to live in China on my own, while my husband lives in India. Oh, it may seem impossible given that all we Indian women do according to this loser’s views is kiss our husband’s feet! Coming to ‘kissing feet of landlords’ (For starters, he has all the terms mixed up. The kissing of feet used to happen till 1990s (pre liberalization era) . All that this a@@h%^& has said are things of the past. Want to know about India, come to India and find out for your self instead of viewing us from stereotypical lenses. Still want to know more, speak to Indians who might want to speak to you despite your racist judgments! I am highly disappointed that such an article was even published on a website I considered respectable!

  2. Guy In China | April 18, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    The very last comment is EXACTLY what I think of China when people tell me it will be the next world super power.

  3. Northeastern indian | April 18, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    The answers are total crap, … some of them are quite right but totally exaggerated, caste system only exists in north and west india, but not in an extreme form because of the growing middle class people there, i guess the idea of india that foreigners have is limited to north and west india, other regions of india like east and south india are very modernized and economically rich, even culturally they are quite different than the stereotyped indian views, come to northeast india you’ll find a total different world,… most people are mongoloids in northeast and have no cultural connection with rest of indian culture and have more cultural lineage towards southeast asians and tibetians

    • KungFuTreachery | April 18, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      He said he only went to Assam, which is up in the north, so the answers are understandable given his limited exposure, but he doesn’t seem to give any consideration to the possibility of regional diversity

    • Fred | April 23, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      Its like spending time in a 5 star hotel in Shanghai and saying that there is very little poverty in China…

  4. Ta Ma De's | April 25, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Some people can’t help but bring up and diss Africa/”black” people/brown skin even when they’re not a part of the discussion, hm?
    This idiot’s disparaging comments and unsubtle jabs at Africans were unnecessary and telling of his ignorance and bigotry – I find his assessments null and void.

  5. jahbria | May 2, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    Fuck you -NOT only do african black people look better and work harder – they also abolished the “caste system” in america and what do indians in your country do for the starving Dalits absolutely nothing – your caste system suck and youre a dumb fuck
    HOW DARE YOU DIRTY MOGREL POOR EXCUSE OF SPERM AND EGG

    • Gonzales | May 9, 2012 | Permalink Reply

      By the way for your record, the South asian countries which was included in the Greater India. Is +2 billion people, more than the chinese. And by the way to say India is the first civilasation outside africa. And if Indians is ugly? i dont know if you have noticed that miss world universe have been won by indians many times, but never by Chinese or wide eyed woman.

      And secondly, Chinese men cant get white woman thats just facts…and south asians can…
      Just look at europe how many different south asian groups livin there,

      And last….you drinking tea, which is called Chai , and sanskrit word… You begging to Lord Buddah, which is from India, Tibet belonged to india aswell. So go fykyourself..with your micro dix and flatscreen assed woman

  6. Pedo bear | December 14, 2012 | Permalink Reply

    “But if the population remains this big, and everyone uses more resources, India will surely become Africa in chaos caused by war, and it will not be alleviated for another 100 years.”
    - Another donkey raping shit eater that thinks Africa is a country.

  7. wang | February 15, 2013 | Permalink Reply

    Disgusting interview. Come to states like Mizoram, Sikkim , Megahalaya in the NE of India, Kerela, Goa in the south ..you would find very different India than you have mentioned here. Not every region is caste infested. And believe me we use chinese goods for kids to play and to wipe our ass. Else everbody goes for branded items. Chinese bikes???? Heard it is sold in Myanmar but it is not allowed to ship to India as it is 3rd class compared to Indian made bikes like Hero honda, pulsare etc etc…

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