"You are from which country !!?"

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#1 Apr 27th, 2004, 18:03
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#1
(There is a prerequisite to understand this post. You should have been to India and faced this question at least once. )

A dissection of the question “You are from which country !?” reveals many interesting facts. It has been a question that has confused (first time), amused, and irritated the countless travelers to India.

The question is a linguistic aberration with a peculiar cultural background. In other words why the question is asked? and why is it asked so?

The second question is simpler to answer. The obvious answer lies at the difference in syntax the of English and Indian languages. People think in local language and talk in English. I mean they try to translate the sentence in mind verbatim into English.

The results are questions like

“You are going to which place?”
“You are having how many children?”
“You want to reserve which class?” …..it’s endless.

It’s a bit complex to understand whys such a question (which country?) is asked. That too by a stranger at street to another stranger.

Much of the answer lies in history and culture of this country. India has been a cluster of big and small kingdoms and countries. People lived at one country were proud of their land, and believed themselves were better than the neighbors. The same thing happened among villages within the countries also. People at one village boasted their greatness at all cost.

Different places were famous for different specialties like art, crafts, cuisine, agricultural produce etc. The folklores said so. The folklores traveled long distance to other countries. This was the advertisement campaign of those days. Each places built its own character by themselves, equivalent of the modern-day brand image.

People who traveled to neighboring villages or countries used this as an advantage. By and large India hadn’t been an individualistic society. So people introduced themselves as to which village or country they belongs to. Associating with a particular place paid more in a social context. Individualism was not a concept prevailed in the society. The individual’s name thus taken a back seat in social occasions.

Historically Indians fancied far away places. Things came from far had been treated as special. People came from/traveled to far away places had been treated with reverence.

A person from a far and famous place attracted more respect. People tried to get the character and status of a person by asking the village /country he belongs to. They tried to make a mental picture of unknown places. This was the quickest way to get accustomed to a newcomer.

Time changed. But not much with the customs. Even now people introduce themselves with place names as “I’m from Bombay”. It communicates a lot more in the local context than the person’s name.

I wonder what would you think about the man at the bus station who will wake you up from your sleep and ask “Which country!?”
#2 Apr 27th, 2004, 19:03
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#2
how is Russia in Hindi?? it is frustrating to answer this question a 1000th time and meet a puzzled look as a response. i try Moscow then (but I'm not from there) and get a glimpse of understanding, although i think because they just don't want to upset me...
#3 Apr 27th, 2004, 19:11
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I think it's RUSE or RUZE or ROOSE or something sounding similar to that
#4 Apr 27th, 2004, 19:32
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Quote:
Originally posted by volga_volga
i try Moscow then (but I'm not from there)
I have to say London, for the same reason.

Not many Indian people have heard of Penzance, funnily enough.

Quote:
People lived at one country were proud of their land, and believed themselves were better than the neighbors. The same thing happened among villages within the countries also. People at one village boasted their greatness at all cost.
It's interesting, that. Because whenever I say 'England' in response to the 'You are from which country?' question, I quite often get the reply 'Ahhh, England, a great country'. Which, considering what the British did to India always strikes me as taking flattery to it's extreme ...

But then, they want me to buy a carpet ...
Out There Somewhere : My Travel Blog.
#5 Apr 27th, 2004, 19:40
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#5
Dr Frankenstein, where is Penzance?

Volga from London
#6 Apr 27th, 2004, 20:03
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It's in Cornwall, right at the end of SW England. Just before you get to Land's End.

Very nice it is, too.

A few pics.
#7 Apr 28th, 2004, 06:34
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#7
Aaar. Full of Pirates too, at least that's the word on the street

I always loved answering this question - 99% of the time, once I'd said Australia, the person would begin to recite the names of the Australian cricket team and/or ask what I thought about Sachin Tendulkar or other Indian players.
I learned more about cricket in a month in India than I had in 22 years of living in Australia!
#8 Apr 28th, 2004, 08:21
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not a Gilbert & Sullivan fan, I guess:
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#9 Apr 28th, 2004, 11:19
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#9
They all know Texas! Many reply "Texas, yes George Bush". I say yeah well we also have Michael Dell (which some get) and Lance Armstrong (which none get). Then I mention Apollo 13, which is the big hit at the I-Max right now. They get that!
#10 Apr 28th, 2004, 12:10
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Quote:
Originally posted by Dr Funkenstein

It's interesting, that. Because whenever I say 'England' in response to the 'You are from which country?' question, I quite often get the reply 'Ahhh, England, a great country'. Which, considering what the British did to India always strikes me as taking flattery to it's extreme ...

No It’s no flattery to extreme. May be just salesmanship. There is no use in questioning what people have done more than 10 generations and earlier.


None feel angry about the British except my boss She grumbles “The English people taught you all these ” .
Her point is about the lack of ‘do it yourselves’ attitude. Everything is delegated. There are separate people to serve tea at the work table, to collect the cups back and also to wash it !


The Tea system comes to a grinding halt when one in the tea chain is on leave This makes her fume like a steam engine.
Last edited by beach; Apr 28th, 2004 at 13:45..
#11 Apr 28th, 2004, 12:47
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#11
I used to say "Mexico," until I realized that I would likely be the only "Mexicano" most of them would ever meet. God forbid!!!! Nowadays I think India is one of the few remaining countries where being from America isn't a knock, so I let them know the truth.
#12 Apr 28th, 2004, 22:33
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#12
When I was in goa (benaulim) I had a beach seller actually come into the sea up to her knees to ask
"which country are you?"........
#13 Apr 28th, 2004, 23:46
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#13
The man in this photo climbed on top of the train to ask me 'which country', so I asked if I could take a photo, then he climbed back down again.
#14 Apr 28th, 2004, 23:53
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#14
once I was in a small village in tamil nadu
an old man asked me "where are you from"
I said germany
he just smiled and asked me: It s how many hours to germany with the bus?


mostly when I say germany,the people say Ah,very nice country...

but as a german ,they still ask you: which germany?
west or east?
#15 Apr 29th, 2004, 00:27
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#15
Back in the days of the Bangladesh War, it wasn't so nice being an American because we were arming Pakistan and the Russians were aligned with India. So when people asked where I was from, I'd say "Cuba."

"Cuba very good," they'd say. I looked thrilled. Ah, you know my country? They'd have to admit that they hadn't a clue, so I said it was close to America. "Oh, America, very good." "No, not America. Cuba." It was a good way of whiling away a journey!
The map is not the territory. --Alfred Korzybski
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