NEW DELHI: I have a love-hate relationship with my identity. I love the fact that I am Indian, especially the parts that relate to my country’s amazingly rich and vibrant history, culture, traditions and people. At other times, being Indian makes me outrageously angry, like when I read about yet another rape, or witness harassment on the roads, or hear about how my friend with a Muslim last name is having a hard time renting a home.

What I love most about India, however, is the country’s diversity. The sheer number of languages, cuisines, art forms, dress, perspectives and stories make the not-so-pleasant elements bearable (most of the time). Knowing this, you can now imagine my indignation when I was asked recently by a non-Indian acquaintance: “How come you speak English so well. Do you also speak Indian?”

RARRRRR. English is one of our official languages and there is NO SUCH LANGUAGE AS INDIAN!!!! Side note: This is probably how the Chinese react when people refer to “speaking Chinese” (It’s Mandarin or Cantonese).

This anger reminded me of the other million-plus things that people mistakenly associate Indians with.

1. “Do You Speak Hindu?”

This point relates to the original pet peeve. THERE IS NO LANGUAGE KNOWN AS HINDU.

2. “Teach Me The Bollywood Dance”

Being Indian does not automatically make me an expert on Bollywood dance moves.

3. “You’re Too Fair To Be Indian”

You’re too much of an idiot to be talking to me.

4. “You’re Indian?” “Shahrukh Khan” “Aishwarya Rai”

Seriously. Do you shout out “Brad Pitt” every time you see an American or I dunno, “Queen Elizabeth” every time a Briton passes by? I’m glad you know the name of a Bollywood star or two but what makes you think I give a f***?!!

5. “I really want to visit India but it’s so unsafe”

I am not for even a second going to defend or try and condone the regressive attitude of men toward women in India, but statistically, most cities in India are at par with other major cities in the world in terms of safety, crime and yes even gender violence. These are major issues of concern the world over, and perhaps more so than India, but come visit, take the necessary precautions and encourage the people you meet to work toward gender equality and safety!

6. “Do You Eat Chicken Tikka Masala Everyday?”

Umm Chicken Tikka Masala is actually a British invention. Most Indians have never even heard of it.

7. “I Love Indian Food”

Do you mean dosas or naan or vindaloo or thepla or biryani or what exactly? Every region in India has its own cuisine and they are so different from each other that no one type of cuisine can qualify as “Indian food.”

8. “I Love Indian Movies. Bollywood WOO!!”

Indian cinema DOES NOT equal Bollywood.

9. “You’re From India And You Have A Boyfriend?” *Looks Shocked*

Believe it!

10. “It Must Be So Hot In India”

No. It’s snowing in some parts of India right now.