Monday, 29 March 2010

Attack of the feral expat wife

(still from the French and Saunders expat wife sketch; sadly unavailable online)

I'm not religious, or even spiritual, in any way, but I do believe there is some kind of universe-wide magnetic force at work. Like, what you put out, you get back. If you emit toxicity into the world, toxicity will come back to you. This belief has been, many times, played out in various corners of my life. 

Consequently, while life here certainly isn't easy, I really try not to write about those times here. I don't want to be a whinger, and I don't want certain types of people to read it and take it as further proof that India is less civilised, less intellectually developed, and generally inferior to, say, Australia.

I also only read other expat blogs that have the same bent: that are for the most part positive and embracing of this great experience the authors are lucky enough to have. White Indian Housewife and neo Indian are two of my favourites.

Unfortunately, the other side does exist.

I had the misfortune of stumbling across an expat blog, written by another Australian woman living in Delhi, that was so staggeringly supercilious, superior, badly written and self-aggrandizing that I choked on my yoghurt. I actually feel sick. I'm not going to name and shame or link to it because that's bad net behaviour, and possibly spreading toxicity.

Sample post titles: "god this place is so backward". "Sickening account of Indian ineptitude". And then there's another post in which she spends a good few thousand words dumping on her inept staff at her sprawling farmhouse, paid for by her husband's generous expat package. In it, she repeatedly questions their intelligence, their honesty, and their general ability to function without her ever-watching eye. She also laments that her gardening staff refuse to pick up their dog's poo, and ends the rant with a line that, and I paraphrase, pats herself on the back for being so efficient before logging off to go and get her nails done.

The whole thing smacks of precisely what locals despise in expats: thinking they're better than Indians. Who the fuck are you, lady, to think you are better than anyone else? You can't even spell.

I suggest she, and anyone else prone to criticising others who've not had the good fortune of a Western education and consequently don't quite get the innate superiority of Global knives over local brands, gain a bit of perspective. You might be living a life of privilege, but you are still a guest in your host country, and consequently it is not seemly to dump on it or the people in it.

You are not better than anyone else because you were lucky enough to be born rich, white and blonde; it was simply a trick of fate that assigned you there. (Or perhaps you did something right in a former life.) If you want to remain in your bounteous life of farmhouses, imported cheese, international schools and a household staff of 12, then I suggest you act - and write - with a little more humility and grace, responsibility and positivity. Otherwise, return home. You are not needed here.

Freaking appalling.

9 comments:

Jason said...

To top is all off, she clearly suffers a lack of irony since she proudly boasts - in red and CAPITALS - a quote from Mark Twain:

"TRAVEL IS FATAL TO PREJUDICE, BIGOTRY, AND NARROW-MINDEDNESS, AND MANY OF OUR PEOPLE NEED IT SORELY ON THESE ACCOUNTS."

I fear travel has been less than fatal to her prejudices, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.

She certainly is one of those people who sorely needs more travelling. For the sake of India and Indians (and expats who aren't like her) I hope it's out of the country, for good.

The only problem then is, which continent should she be inflicted upon? I'd suggest Antarctica, but then I like penguins.

Vesna said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
V. said...

Found the blog! The woman needs to be shot!
As a fellow Aussie living and loving in India, I’m ashamed of this silly cow!

desiderata said...

Thanks V... absolutely appalling. She is a silly cow indeed.

Tennille said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tennille said...

yes, yes, yes. I totally agree. I'm from Australia and living in Delhi on a volunteer's pay, and I love it! But I so dislike expat wives and their often obnoxious children (who probably have no hope of knowing any better). She would probably be the first person in Australia to tell a visitor or migrant to "go back to your country" if they complained. Perhaps she might consider the same...

shayma said...

utterly appalling. once i was wearing a kameez salwar in an office when my father was posted to Dhaka and a Scotsman said to me, "oh, going all tribal are we? trying to blend in with the locals?" those sort of comments make me livid. this woman is awful and should be shunned! love your blog. x shayma

shayma said...

oh my god, i found her blog. she has written awfully mean things about a girl who is looking for a job as a housekeeper, the poor girl has even brought a cv with her and this woman is berating her. utter rubbish, that. sad sad sad.

Najo said...

Hi,

I found your blog through other blogs I was reading and I must say I've quite enjoyed it so far.

This post got me wondering, though I understand it's nearly a year old, do you not think you're giving this woman more publicity?
I can understand your frustration but I found myself, like many of the other commenters, searching for this woman's blog so I could read her prejudice views.

By no means am I saying you should not blog and be vocal about bigots but considering the fact that almost all her posts have just one commenter, I don't think she has a wide enough readership to influence anyone anyways.

I hope you don't take any offense from this, it's merely something I noticed..