I reached home yesterday to hear my answering machine beeping. It is rare these days to have voice messages waiting when I get home. The only ones I do usually get are appointment reminders and such. Refreshed and phone in hand I listened. It was from some one I have not met but was told to expect a call from by another friend. The caller id showed a last name that I was not able to place from any particular region in India.
I called back and launched into conversation in good old English. We went back and forth exchanging personal information and about the time we were about to end the call she said “Neenga Tamizha?” meaning “Do you speak Tamil?”
I was surprised and said yes and we continued some more in our vernacular. After I was done talking two things struck me. One was how easily I assumed things about an unknown person based on the name. And the second on how difficult it was to switch from English to Tamil mid conversation. Even as I started talking in Tamil, I kept relapsing into English midway and had to make a conscious effort to switch back.
I promised myself I would go easy on people who stereotyped me based on how I look and what my name is.