I am convinced that I should have developed into a high-profile, Armani-wearing, Jaguar-driving executive by now. After blaming my high school math teacher, my crooked teeth and my rotten toe nails for not becoming the highly successful person I should have been, I have finally realized where the true problem lay. In my Fake American Accent (FAA). The last time I was giving a presentation, I was more focused in figuring out how to pronounce ‘route’ …rowt or root? By the time the word presented itself in front of me, I was so exhilarated by the possibility of masking my Indian accent that I forgot what point I was trying to make. So with a painful expression, I ended up drawling, 'I just had a Rowt-canal.'
I am screwing up so bad that the whites have started to think my FAA is actually the way we Indians normally speak. Then an Indian colleague comes along and confuses them even more by saying this is actually the British Accent because the British taught us how to speak English during their extended stay in our country.
When we first came to USA, we had to repeat words twice and spell out our names. Frustration crept in pretty quick and we changed the way we spoke and shortened our names. ‘Hi, table for two…the name is Sue!’ But there are some of us who are stubborn and stick to our roots (or maybe routes). We continue to spell out the 14 letters of our last name…D as in David, A as in Adam, H as in Jesus…and by the time we are done, we have the all the biblical names covered and the person typing the name gasping for breath. ‘Sorry’, I say (not feeling apologetic at all), 'My parent’s way of teaching me the alphabet.’
It always helps to try and fit in, to enable the majority to comprehend you so that you can be sucessful in half the time it takes for a person repeating words. The intention is to be global, but in the end of the day we get drawn to the people with whom we can converse with ease and poke fun of their FAA. Hence for most part, Indians hang out with Indians, Chinese with Chinese and Mallus with Mallus.
When I am with Indians, I don’t stop talking- all the time thinking that the universe might vanish without hearing what I have to say. But with the Americans, I am unusually tongue tied, busy forming sentences in my mind with the FAA. When I catch myself saying something in my Indian accent, I correct it immediately making it look even more preposterous. I squirm and to cover up, I reach for the cookie and stuff my mouth and keep nodding. So for most of the conversation I stick to -Sure! Awesome! Yeah! Kewwl! and of course, the universal hahaha!. So Americans think I am dumb at the best and psycho at the worst.
I do not impress anyone anyway. So I have made up my mind. I am sticking to what I am comfortable with. I will speak like an Indian, with pride. After all, I need to give the Americans a chance to be global. If they don’t understand my English language, they’ll at least get my body language. *finger shooting up*