Quotes from Book 'How May I Help You?' Show How Can One Confront an Unfamiliar Culture

How does it feel to be an immigrant? 

Quotes from Book 'How May I Help You?' Show How Can One Confront an Unfamiliar Culture

We often hustle to adapt and adjust to an environment which is not at all as per our comfort zone. We just get too busy in learning the new cultures and concepts of a place that we generally forget who we actually are and from where do we belong. But, is this the case with everyone? Is this what we should do?  

Deepak Singh is an Indian immigrant in the United States of America, and he soon realised the fact that we do not actually need to rush towards the glittery world. 

Deepak falls in love with an American visiting India as an exchange student. The young couple gets married and leaves the country to live the American dream. Unfortunately, for Deepak, he soon realises that reality was completely different. 

Armed with an MBA from a good B-school and quitting a cushy job in BBC, Deepak moves with his wife. But once in the US, all he can get is a minimum-wage job in an electronics store. Every day he confronts an unfamiliar American culture. He experiences the deeply entrenched racism and observes first-hand the crushing reality of being poor in America. He has to confront an unfamiliar culture, and even his wife seems different in this new environment. 

Here are some quotes from Deepak Singh's charming and insightful book, 'How May I Help You?' that chronicles his journey as an Indian immigrant in the United States of America.  

'Fresh off the plane', Deepak tells an intimate tale of living in a foreign place.


Being the perennial outsider, and making a mixed marriage work, this is what all he shared in his book.


"One of my colleagues told me that I should learn to speak English if I wanted to be a successful salesman. The same language and accent that afforded me the opportunity to mingle with the elites in India became a disadvantage in America."

"It was second nature to me to walk to the left side of the car to sit in the front passenger's seat. At first glance, seeing the steering wheel on the left was almost like seeing a human being with a nose on his forehead."

"Before this, I had never been inside a kitchen that didn't have yellow turmeric stains from cooling daal."

"Go on Deepak, say 'What's your name?' in Indian." Everybody looked at me as if I were going to pull a pigeon out of a hat, or do a dance that no one had seen before.

"Working with Ron and Jackie (his colleagues in the electronic store) made me think that in India I had only learned about the brighter side of America – its automatic cars, wide roads, tall buildings, drive-thru restaurants, and great shopping malls. I didn't know that behind the bright lights of this country there was a darker side and that in that darkness there were people whose lives were not so rosy, and there were people whose problems were not unlike Rupa and Manoj's (his cleaning maid and her husband) in India."

"In my last job in India, if someone wanted to see me at work, they first had to go through the security guard outside the building, then if the guard thought it was okay, he would let them into the receptionist, who would, in turn, let me know there was a visitor. Someone who stank of alcohol and talked in an abusive manner would never have gotten past the burly guard. But I was not in India. I was standing in front of a drunken man in America."

This is what it means to be an immigrant to Deepak.

This is what it means to be an immigrant to Deepak.

The article is an excerpt from the book 'How May I Help You?', written by author Deepak Singh, and published by Penguin Random House.