100 Reasons I love America: #6 First Names.

The professor that gave me a teaching assistantship at the University of Kentucky is at least 30 years older than me. In India, this qualifies for a nice appellation, “Mr” and “Sir” being the most common. Just call me “Steve”, my professor said and I struggled initially to call him by his first name. It seemed so disrespectful!

Indian kids are taught to always, always, respect older people. Even if they are speaking nonsense to you. You always respect them and definitely don’t call them by their first names! When I visit India, I quickly switch back to my old mannerisms, the “Sir” and “Ma’am” flows easily out of my mouth. ‘tis the right thing to do in India. I don’t call my aunts and uncles by their first names. Any older person (and by that I mean at least a decade older) is not to be called by their first name. I kind of follow that rule with Indian folks in America. Old habits die hard and anyway, I have a feeling it would be perceived as being rude (by other Indians, of course). Indians like to talk about other Indians that have become “Americanized”, while living in America. As if these Americanized Indians have shed their skin and become a different color somehow. How can you not take on some of the customs of country that you live in? That seems strange to me. It would be odd if I lived in America and was completely Indian in America. Right? By that same regard, it would be odd for me to become completely American living in this country. How can I shed my Indian identity and the little things that make me who I am? I need to be a good mix of both. What’s the perfect mix?

I digress (I wrote a book for these digressions).

I like the fact that respect has to be earned in America. At least the America I have seen. You having lived a few or several years longer than someone else does not automatically earn a nice title for you. Your work and your accomplishments earn that for you. And that’s pretty awesome. That’s a nice thing to teach your kids. And calling you by your first name is my reason #6 to love America ☺