Woman on a plane: "No, you're from India."
Woman on a plane: "I've always wanted to go to New Delhi, blah blah blah..."
Me: *continues putting on headphones*
Random old guy in Berkeley waiting in line for a movie: "You're from India, huh? Pakistan?"
For future reference, here is where I am from: Oakland. California. Arlington. Texas. "San Francisco." The Bay Area. The East Bay. "Dallas." Dallas/Fort Worth. America. The United States. The U.S. My mom's uterus.
You may notice that India does not appear anywhere on that list because I am not from India. I was not born there; I did not grow up there. My parents are from India, but they've been here long enough that they're not really from India either.
Honestly, I don't know what the statute of limitations on fromness is, and I am certainly not the person to define it. But, look, world, I know I have brown skin, and I know that when you ask where I'm from, you really mean to ask what my heritage is. Or perhaps where my family is from. Or my ancestors. You're certainly not interested in where I, personally, am from, as that would require you to look beyond the color of my skin!
I feel like there are a fair number of Indian people around. I cannot be the first Indian person you have run across, and if by chance I am, I will not be the last. Kudos on identifying my race, though! Surely you will get a medal for that. I truly do not care how great you think India is, stranger, because you have instantly alienated me with your totally racist question. I am not a representative of all things Indian. Why do you want to talk to me about how Indian I am? Obviously, you do not read my journal, or you would know that I AM NOT EVEN THAT INDIAN.
Maybe there is a polite way for someone to approach someone of another ethnicity and ask them about their culture, but it would take so many more words than "Where are you from?"
It's a very sticky preposition.