Bits of conversations between my cousin and her parents (I have paraphrased a bit, but I think the meaning behind the statements remains intact). The cousin is either 13 or 14 years old.
1) Mami: “Those cousins of mine stayed at bed-and-breakfasts all over Switzerland, and they really liked it”.
Cousin: “Chee! How could they?” (As far as I am aware, my cousin has never actually stayed at a B&B)
2) Cousin: “That bakery was so good, but it was in an all-Muslim area, hai na mumma? All those people in the shop, with the big beards, they all looked like Osama Bin Laden. I was quite scared”
3) “In those photos, nani was wearing Western clothes and looking just like a foreigner! Who gave her those clothes? She never wears them, she’s a grandmother.”
4) “Yuck. I feel like vomiting every time I see that man’s face.”
5) “Oh, those people? They’re damn fat no?”
And then there are the conversations between my mama and mami about how Maharashtrian men are damn lazy. The generalisation doesn’t seem to bother them at all.
I don’t protest, or say anything at all when such conversations take place. Both my mama and mami are very sweet and helpful; they took me in for the entire month when I needed a place to stay in Mumbai and generally, I like it here. But conversations like the ones I’ve mentioned above happen often and are commonplace. I believe they would be very surprised to think that someone might object to the statements they make.