The edited version of this article is found over at Sepia Mutiny. This version, my first draft, is twice as long and twice as annoyed/unfunny. Also twice as ineffective, according to the people who read it over for me. But, what the heck, here’s the initial response, for your edification.
Dear Ms. Miller,
On June 1, you posted a piece in The Huffington Post’s Living section called “How to Date an Indian (Advice for the Non-Indian.”) or as I like to call it “How to Drive Away Dates with Your Unbelievable Combination of Desperation and Ignorance.” Apparently, as someone whose bio states that she has “lived in Mumbai for three years,” and who is in a relationship with a man of Indian descent, you consider yourself well-qualified to advise the rest of the world on the best means to bag a brown man/woman. Or as you write, “my husband… is from New Delhi, which, in addition to providing me with lots of Indian friends and in-laws, have given me a pretty good perspective on the desirability of the people from the world’s largest democracy — and how to woo them.” Given your ventures in dating/relationship-based businesses (including a magazine and a dating website), I have to say I was misled into believing you had something relevant to say. Instead, I ended up laying on the floor, guffawing hysterically.
Let’s break down what you told folks in your article. Before we begin, I want to applaud you for not exoticizing and fetishizing brown people in a manner that detracts from a basic understanding and appreciation of another’s culture.
1) Indians are the chosen ones. Well, I’m not really Indian per se, my parents came from Pakistan, but on behalf of their neighbors across the border, I’ll take it. And as a Star Wars fan, I am even more honored that you consider us the Chosen Ones. (I’ll let you know where you can mail that lightsaber.)
2) Indian people tend to be good looking. Actually, you know what, Ms. Miller? That is awfully nice of you to point that out. I too, consider myself and my brethren brethren superior-looking when it comes to physical aesthetics. I’m glad you feel the same way.
3) Most Indians are innately gracious, social creatures; they highly value friends and family and have a calendar filled with various holidays and occasions to celebrate, which they typically do with gusto. Yes’m. And when we’re not celebrating things “with gusto” or jiving we’re eating fried chicken and watermelon. Oops, wrong stereotype. Never mind.
4) Moreover, Indian men love to dance. If for no other reason other than you want someone to dance with you (or without you for that matter), date an Indian. Who are these Indian men and where can I find them?
5) If you are Indian, you can skip the rest of this post and spend the next four minutes savoring your desirability. Lady, I am savoring my desirability right now like no other. You have no idea how desirable your post made me feel right now. I feel so desirable it’s making me nauseous.
6) If you are not Indian, keep reading to learn seven things that should ingratiate you with them. The first five have to do with Bollywood. Indians take Bollywood and their celebrities very seriously. I personally, did not realize one has to pretend to adore Bollywood in order to date me. Oh, I get it. You think it’s okay to project a faux personality and deceive your date in order to get sex, right? “Finding a place that plays Bhangra music and going there together is sure to get you something straight from the Kama Sutra.” (Which reminds me, I really need to find a copy of that book, given that it’s such a major part of my heritage as a brown person.) Also, FYI, Bride and Prejudice references can get one shot up in my hood. That was a terrible movie and it should never be acknowledged publicly.
7) I’m happy to share a dal recipe that is unbelievably tasty. (Really, it is called “Mrs. B’s Magic Dal.”) Does it include roofies? Because after that list of disingenuous advice, I wouldn’t be surprised if your daal contained certain illegal substances. How about instead of ‘magic daal,’ you simply suggest folks hog-tie and shot-gun wed a brown person, rather than luring them with promises of desi cooking and Bollywood watching? It would save us all a lot of time and effort.
8) Language. Indians love when you speak their language… Now there are several iPhone apps that will give you translations. I suggest you pick up a few and break them out at an appropriate time, probably somewhere well into the second date. You don’t want your date to think that if things go south, you will resort to stalking. Lady, if I were on a second date and someone broke into Urdu, I would run away screaming. Surely you tell people looking for a relationship that desperate is never attractive. Surely you promote self-esteem building, not shameless brown-nosing, right? Right?
9) I hope Laxmi, Goddess of Prosperity, smiles on you as you endeavor to date one of her people. Wait, so the only reason we should date a brown person is because we hope to be well-off financially? *Cue Kanye West’s ‘Gold Digger” song.
10) Oh yea, I almost forgot to mention: one more big bonus when it comes to dating an Indian: communication with cabbies. Actually, lady, knowing Punjabi/Hindi does very little good when it comes to cabbies. They’re not going to drive any faster just because you’re brown. Or give you a discount. So if you’re hoping to better your cabbie ride by dating a brown man – it would save you a lot of time to save yourself the middleman and just date a cabbie yourself.
In conclusion, thank you again Ms. Miller for sharing your magic formula of misinformed assumptions, basic stereotypes and limited knowledge. The world is grateful for your guide on brown dating. We thank you for teaching the next generation that they too, can use any means necessary to find their special brown man or woman. I assume your dating website attempts to convince its readers/subscribers of similar by-hook-or-by-crook methods to find their certain someone. I am grateful that rather than appreciating each other’s unique interests, you suggest one thwart one’s personality and project a spurious interest in culture that was never there to begin with – solely to find a mate.
While I mourn the fact that my letter highlights your work (and no doubt favorably impacts your post’s metrics), I am thankful that I became aware of its existence.