By Devendra Shintre, swissinfo.ch student blogger
Nov 6, 2018 – 11:05
A common stereotype is that Indian food is always spicy. Unfortunately, I couldn’t refute this one, because of my limited cooking skills.
Indian student Devendra gets a feel for how his country is perceived in Switzerland and sheds a few misconceptions of his own.
Stereotyping is bound to happen when two cultures rarely meet. In my case, I had never met anyone from Switzerland before coming here. The only exposure I had to western culture was through Hollywood movies and TV Series. Occasionally I came across foreign tourists in places like Goa or Manali, but that was it.
For a country like Switzerland, which is infamous in India as a secret banking destination for corrupt politicians, I was expecting profligate residents. This image was destroyed when I met the locals, especially students, who were working very hard to make ends meet.
On the other hand, I was the first Indian acquaintance for many people in Switzerland. Does that mean that they do not know much about India? Absolutely not. I met a religious Egyptian Muslim who was familiar with Hindu religious texts. He had not only read the Gita but was also eager to discuss the Upanishads. I also encountered a Turkish man who was using Ayurvedic products and studying meditation prescribed by the Indian spiritual guru Osho. Osho’s “ashram” is in my hometown of Pune and I had become aware of its existence only a couple of years ago. My French roommate cooks better “non-vegetarian” Indian dishes than I do. In fact, she taught me how to cook “Chicken Tikka Masala”. The most astonishing fact is that none of these people had ever met an Indian before.