There are Citizenship tests and there are citizenship tests ! U.S Citizenship test, Indian Citizenship test - you name it - although in reality, we are all citizens of a virtual country called Non Resident India. If they ever decide to have a NRI citizenship test, this will be it.

How Good An NRI Are You - A Test

by Ramesh Mahadevan

(1) Your friend Srini just got back from India after his wedding. He has even brought his wife along on a H4 visa. He invites you and the rest of the 'gang' for dinner. You are really eager to make acquaintances with the 'missus' and also partake the 'grub'. But you also know darned well that you will be subjected to a three hour wedding video. Torn between lust for food and survival instincts, you will:

(a) Go to his house and silently sneak up to the VCR, grab the wedding video tape and toss it out of the window.

(b) After dinner and before they start the video show, suddenly moan and groan and tell them you are having a heart attack and must leave.

(c) Watch the video attentively and try to familiarize yourself with their third cousins and distant aunts. Try to also memorize the names of all the 65876 guests who were at the wedding - in fact, ask them to rewind and play the tape in super slo-mo at important places.

(2) You are at the Desi 'all you can eat' buffet line for the fourth helping. You sight a fresh batch of Tandoori chicken in the far corner. Cauldrons of Ginger Chicken etc are bubbling on the right hand side. The vadas seduce you by their very looks. And you were planning to have two or three rounds of the desserts. Suddenly you feel a little stuffed. Totally confused, you will:

(a) Take the whole tray of Tandoori chicken to your table but don't touch anything else.

(b) Decide to hang around till evening so that you can eat everything slowly. In the meantime, sneak into the bathroom several times to do a quick round of jogging.

(c) Suddenly think of IIT Kanpur mess 'grub' and lose your appetite altogether.

(3) You are a young Ph.D. student in your ninth year of graduate school and are just about to retire on your stipend. One day, while you are goofing off as usual on the internet you suddenly realize that you no longer remember your thesis research problem because you hadn't worked on it in a while. Panic-struck you will:

(a) Just say 'Forget it' and send a long email to Sidey, PJ and Srini.

(b) Try to calm yourself down and try to remember your adviser's name and figure out if he is on a sabbatical somewhere or if he is around in the department.

(c) Since you can think much better after some beer, you will walk over to Bala's place for that much-needed suds.

(4) You are on a visit to India. You are just about to drop in on Uncle Gangu and his two impressionable sons who are studying in a local goonda college. To show off your status, would you wear your university T shirt or Dallas Cowboys T shirt ?

(a) The cowboys T shirt may be so sexy Grandma (Uncle Gangu's mother) might want it. So, stick to the University T shirt.

(b) Put on both the T shirts so that you can hide your huge paunch.

(c) Nobody has heard of your university, The Northeastern South Dakota University. So might as well wear the Cowboy's shirt.

(5) You have finally graduated and managed to get a job. After a Mexico trip, now you even have your visa. Since this is the 'best time' to get married, you want to place a classified ad in 'India Abroad'. How would this ad go ?

(a) "an attractive, educated, only child of a billionaire is looking for..."

(b) "A serial killer is looking for his next victim. Just kidding. Looking for a good-looking ....."

(c) "A short, fat, ugly slob who bathes only on special occassions is looking for..."

(6) You are just a graduate student on a F-1 visa, but you are from an IIT. The fellow at the other end of the restaurant whom you kind of know is a H-1 visa guy, but who is here on a body shop deal. Who is superior and what does the protocol say as the appropriate behavior ?

(a) According to Manu's Shastra, the H-1 visa is a higher caste than F-1and you should bow to the other guy.

(b) Obviously you are superior. Ignore the sonavagun.

(c) Tell him he is superior and make him pay for your lunch.

(7) Dr. Gupta is like the patron saint of the local Indian community. You are invited to his house. You pat the cat and talk to the kids even though you hate it. Finally when you are sitting down for a boring after-dinner conversation, Gupta's four year old is hitting you with a baseball bat. Unable to take it any more you will:

(a) Turn around and beat the crap out of the child and Dr. Gupta.

(b) Drag Mrs. Gupta from the kitchen and tell her that her kid is a terror and that this is no way to bring up a kid.

(c) Let the kid hit you with the bat and subsequently bond with the kid. And later on, realize that such things are the 'Family values' that everyone is talking about. In fact, visit Guptaji every week.

(8) You are going to India next week and you are currently doing India shopping in K Mart. The 'three for one' goods seem slightly better although the 'blue light specials' are slightly cheaper. Totally confused you will:

(a) Buy the 'El Cheapo' stuff, but lie to them that you paid a lot for it.

(b) Don't buy here. Instead go to Bombay and buy it cheap on the footpath.

(c) Stay in K Mart till the 'three for one' goods come on 'Blue light special'.

(9) Long ago, you had told your friend that you wanted to develop an interest in Indian classical music. Your friend actually believes you and takes you to a concert by Ustad Shah Rukh Ali Khan, who doesn't want to stop singing even after five hours. It is here that you realize your big mistake. Also, your friend gave you ride and so you are dependent on him for your ride back. But your friend is absolutely engrossed in the concert unaware that you are going nuts. You will:

(a) Walk up to the Ustad and slap him. Also, puncture the tabla, just to make sure.

(b) Loudly scream. "Stop ! I confess. I did it !"

(c) Clap every two minutes and loudly utter compliments like "Wow wah ! kyaa kamaal kar diya". Also, ask your friend every five minutes what the Ustad is singing now. If all this still doesn't have an effect, start blowing your nose loudly just when the Ustad reaches the higher notes.

(10) You are sitting in the India Association get together and chatting with the janta. You can see the president of the association around the corner, collecting subscriptions. Now he is heading toward you. You will:

(a) Shout 'Fire' and run away.

(b) Tell him you are already a Life Member.

(c) Tell him you are not an Indian and therefore be left alone.

(11) Yourself, Bala, Srini and their roommates - ten people in all - have suddenly come up with this plan to go to Florida for a week. Since you can afford only so much, you decide to rent just one car for all the ten of you. Suddenly, the other Srini, the other Bala and their roommates (a total of six more people) tell you that they too are desperately interested in coming to Florida with you. Since it is difficult for sixteen people to travel in one car, but you still don't know how to say 'no', you will:

(a) Take the middle ground. Say no to Srini and the other Srini. But the rest of the fourteen of you drive in one car. You also discover that Bala can be squeezed between the radiator and the engine.

(b) Dump all the guys and try to entice Sunita, Malini Ammal and the 'girls' gang into going to Florida and go with them instead.

(c) Import a Desi Tempo van and all of you drive in that to Florida.

(12) You always drool over Sunita. But she never seems to give a damn. Finally, your prayers are answered and she agrees to come with you for a dinner at Delhi Palace. When you are just about to leave on your romantic outing, she turns to her boring roommate and asks her "Anju, why don't you come along too." At this point, you will:

(a) Interrupt Sunita and say "Anju can't come. She has a project due" and give Anju a loaded dirty look.

(b) If Anju indeed decided to come along you would say "Oh, I forgot. My clothes are in the dryer" and run away.

(c) You be generous and say "Why don't we call Ajay, PJ and the others also. It will be a lot of fun. In fact, I have been meaning to treat them for a long time."

(13) You are a woman grad student who is attached to the computer like it is some sort of an umbilical cord. A cute guy - or so you think - has sent you an email message following an innocuous IRC chat session. You don't know that he is a dirty, boring, slob whose only purpose in life is to smoke and drink. And he doesn't know that you are an insecure person who doesn't feel comfortable about any human relationship. Suddenly you discover you are exchanging upwards of fifty email messages a day. Should you feel guilty or romantic ? Which of the following is the most appropriate behavior in this 'Conflict Situation' ?

(a) When he asks you to send a GIF file of your photograph, send Madhuri Dixit's file to him.

(b) Hide your identity and send him an anonymous email from another account and say dirty things about yourself, just to find out how he would react.

(c) Ask him if his name is really Ajay Palvayanteeswaran.

(14) Your friend has just played a hit song from the latest hindi movie. The song sounds strange to you and you can't even make out if the lyrics are in hindi. But you don't want to appear to have lost touch with hindi movies. So you would:

(a) Ignore it and tell your friend you have been busy with research the past few days.

(b) Dance wildly to the song. Play it ten times with the fond hope that perhaps around the tenth time you might actually understand the lyrics. Ask your friend: "Is it a Rehman ?"

(c) Shout loudly "I swear, this music is cogged from ....." and pretend like you are trying to remember. Then make a generic comment that music these days isn't what it used to be.

(15) Everybody you know goes home to India and comes back either married or engaged. You go home and beg your parents to get you hooked, but they don't give a damn and you come back single. Unable to face your crowd and overcome by embarrassment, you will:

(a) Live a lie. Tell them you are actually engaged to Kajol. And the wedding will take place as soon as she finished making movies for all those who have signed her.

(b) Tell your friends that all the women you 'saw' in India were offering you dowries and as a man of principle you couldn't take it and that's why you didn't get engaged this time.

(c) Tell your friends that you are never going to marry and will be dedicating your life for the downtrodden in Malawi.

(16) At last, you managed to get the local Indian Princess for a private dinner at this expensive Indian restaurant. You have told her that you were buying dinner. So she orders the most expensive meal, a glass of expensive zinfandel to go with the meal and a mango lassi. She has just ordered kesar kulfi to cap it off - the full nine yards - putting a dent in your wallet. Then in the course of the conversation or perhaps to keep a distance from you she announces she already has a boyfriend in India. At this point you will:

(a) Break down and cry and create a scene. Tell her it is unfair. Ask her at least to reimburse the dinner costs. If she refuses, then grab the Kulfi from her.

(b) Take it like a man. Tell her "Excuse me, I need to go to the bathroom" and sneak out of the restaurant and never see her again.

(c) Challenge her. Put her on the defensive and ask her to prove that she really has a boyfriend and that their love is real. Present yourself as an alternative.

(17) You are with Tom and Bob, your American colleagues, waiting to be seated in a restaurant. Suddenly you see a bunch of your desi neighbors from your desi ghetto, also entering the restaurant. Embarrassed, you will:

(a) Completely ignore your neighborhood gang. If they tried to talk to you, tell them you have never seen them before. You can always make other friends later on.

(b) Go to the bathroom and stay there till the neighborhood gang is gone.

(c) Start talking to Bob and Tom in hindi. If the desis start walking toward you, then grab Tom and Bob and drag them out of the restaurant.

(18) You have suddenly become biologically successful and are expecting a baby in the coming months. You are faced with the daunting task of coming up with a name for the darned brat. And you know that the names beginning with the letter 'A' are 'in' these days. You will resolve the baby name issue by:

(a) Sending a post to SCI. But name the baby after the guys who post on the net. A few months down the road, your kid Jai is born.

(b) Make up your own 'A' names like 'Amlukund' or 'Adiandiakan', but tell others that they are 'epic'names.

(c) Name the kid 'Ahluwalia'. This is an 'A' name and when you are with your Western friends, you can call him 'Al' and when with desis, you can call him 'Aaloo'..

(19) Is the word 'multi' pronounced 'mul-tee' or 'mul-tie' ?

(a) At work and with the native english speakers it is pronounced 'Mul-tie'. When with desis, it is pronounced 'Mul-tee'.

(b) It is the other way around. For desis, especially for Biharis and South Indians, it is pronounced 'Mul-tie' and for local folks, it is 'Mul-tee'.

(c) Avoid using this word and other controversial words like semi, anti, route etc.

(20) You are visiting India. Your aunt, who doesn't know anything about being an NRI or the associated perks, offers you home made 'Samosas' and sweets. Just to impress her that you are a different breed now - fragile and susceptible to health problems in India - which of the following health precautions would you observe ?

(a) Open your briefcase that you got from the USA, take out a coke and drink it.

(b) Ask her for the fat content and cholesterol content of the samosas.

(c) Thoroughly inspect her kitchen and de-tox it. Spray air freshener. Then eat the sweet and ask for more.

(21) You and fifteen others, including the cute Indian girl from the next apartment complex, are playing 'dumb charade' following a pot luck dinner on a friday evening. You were acting out the movie "The Sound of Music" with all kinds of silly gesticulations. But not only does she not get the movie name, she also insists that there is no such movie. You don't want to
argue with her and ruin your chances of getting to know her better. On the other hand, you have your own ego. What would you do ?

(a) Tell her point blank that for a 'dumb' person, she was bad at playing 'dumb charade'. Swear never to deal with such people again. Join Mensa and play dumb charade with those folks.

(b) Get Sidey involved in the fight. Then you join her and fight Sidey, the common enemy.

(c) Apologize to her for lousy acting and lying. To show her you are really sincere, help her with her computer assignment.


(1) If you marked all (a):

Congratulations ! You are a Padma Bhushan in the NRI community. You now have the licence to behave any which way you want and get away with it because of your high standing in the NRI hierarchy.

(2) If you marked some (b), but mostly (a):

You are almost there ! A few years in the dollar-land and a few super bowls later you can claim full citizenship.

(3) If you marked some (c):

You are making fast progress. If you stopped reading SCI and migrate to the Bay area, you may become a good NRI.

(4) If you marked all (c) or if you took all this seriously:

You might as well have stayed in your little hamlet in India.