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Friday, January 28, 2011

Not the center of the universe

For some reason, not very many Americans visit India. Few Westerners in general and Americans compromise maybe one out of ten.

One of the second or third questions an inquisitive Indian will ask you is where you are from. A little boy from a small village near Jaisalmer, Rajasthan asked me this. "The U. S.," I said. I almost never lead with 'America' when traveling because I've learned first hand that it offends South Americans (American? Really? Me too.)

He shook his head. "The United States." No. "The United States of America?"

Brow furrowed, no, he still did not recognize that country.

"Is it near England?" he asked.

"Relatively, I guess. Do you know where Canada is?"

Yes, his eyes brightened, he had actually met some people from Canada before. "Well, we're just south of them."

Although many Americans fear that the rest of the world despises them, in truth much of the world neither knows nor cares about our policies, politics, or pop-culture. I find that somehow comforting.

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