Though I grew up in America, and considered myself as American as can be, I was very in tune with the Indian culture. I was proud of my Indian background and was easily offended by thoughtless queries.
In my primary school days, kids used to ask me ignorant questions such as, “Do you eat cats and dogs?” “Is your marriage arranged from childhood?” “Do you speak Indian/Hindu?” The latter was the most common of the lot. At the time, I didn’t know how to respond, so I would send death glares and stalk away angrily.
Later, when I entered middle school, I started to retort: “Yes; as much as you speak American/Christian!” What? I was petty. It was junior high. I thought everyone was out to get me. It didn’t occur to me that they didn’t know any better.
In high school, everyone (including me) matured a bit. People were now genuinely interested. Whether it was the popularity of Bollywood and Bhangara beats in the west, who knows? They’d ask the cliche questions at first and I would politely reply that Indian wasn’t a language, but rather a nationality. They’d quickly apologize and ask what language I did speak.
This proved to be much more troublesome than I thought.
Me: I speak Malayalam.
Me: No, Ma-la-ya-lam.
Yea, this went on for a while and finally I was like, “Forget it, I speak Indian!” :P