It is so sad to be home in Dallas right now, when I could be touring around Mumbai. But what is even harder is telling people why I am home. Because it only reinforces the strong association in Americans’ minds between the Middle East and terrorism. And what has a strong connection with terrorism in our memories? 9/11. So, it’s only natural for friends or family that I tell to categorize the news of last week’s bombings in Mumbai into their heaping pile of proof for their stereotype of Middle Easterners as hateful and intolerant people who use violence to communicate such hatred. And honestly, I’m pointing the finger right back at myself. For the reason why my stomach flopped the way it did when Dr. Alvey delivered news of the terrorist attacks to the group was because of my network of associations with terrorism and assumed it was anti-American. But after taking time to let the dust settle and try to delay jumping to conclusions and more importantly, talking to natives, the danger of using stereotypes was made very obvious to me. A small group of (only girls, surprised?) us ran around Ahmedabad with our heads cut off looking for last minute scarves and gifts we had planned on getting the second half of our trip in Mumbai, Pune, or Delhi, with the kind assistance of a translator and speedy driver. Asking our translator about his family in Mumbai and hearing his reaction to the bombings might be one of the most important lessons I learned in India. He tried to relate to three scared American girls how these terrorist attacks in Mumbai were practically an everyday thing for Indians – business was back to normal after one day, max 2 days, and he knew without a doubt who had done it.

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