Monday, April 23

India

An 8 year old girl has been watering our garden since the last 3 years. Her mother irons clothes near our building and doesn’t want to send her to school. The girl’s name is Geeta. She runs around all day doing menial work wearing clothes I wore once. She plays with my toys and can buy chocolates for herself. She always gets bright eyed whenever she sees me coming from the airport. And I see those eyes and the pony tail once more when I’m leaving. Just four times a year.

But her family can’t afford anything for her. No food, no education, no life. She’ll never wear Aldo shoes and discover the wonders of mascara. She’ll never contemplate on the emotional security a man can give you. Sex without condoms for her will never be risqué. She’ll never drink cognac. She’ll never travel out of the country to see the world.

These things have become so important to me that I find lives without them so… unimaginably dull. And bereft of any kind of pleasure?

But there are millions who go and fetch water from a public tanker 3 km from their tin huts every morning, precisely at the time I get up and think of waffles. And there are countless who are suffering malnutrition worse than Africa in my country, at the time I refuse to eat food made at home which is enough for 4 simply because I want to eat dumplings. There are too many instances that make me feel like a prize capitalist slave who doesn’t have two minutes of compassion time in their life other than to buy a flower off a traffic signal.

I never cared about these things 2 years ago. There was too much to think about. Also, modern times have given people like me the luxury to entertain depression and just think about our past until we get over it. But someone is not thinking even after 4 pregnancies and 3 miscarriages simply because the man refuses to stop.

I’ve been reading a lot of stuff on the blogosphere for quite some time now. There’s been so much that feel like déjà vu. And much reminds you of thoughts you once indulged in and then put them away. But recently I’ve read some bloggers declaring their preference for continuance of British rule in India. And how the country is basically one big shit-hole and nothing can be done to change that.

Such juvenile crap burns me up so much that I can’t even write about it. I guess currently, it’s much in vogue to be pro-India after movies like Rang de Basanti and such making such an impression on the popular mind, for better or for worse. So I don’t really talk about this.

How did I suddenly get so patriotic? I can’t think of a better word, although it seems so darn serious, but patriotic it is. It’s there is every thought. Even when I heard about the Virginia shoot-out, all I though about was how terrible it would be to die abroad. I know how delighted I used to be if I came across a sardar in London. It really used to make my day.

And it seemed so surreal, because I never respected anything about my identity when I left. I can’t say that I was a victim to racism but I surely saw it happen and never did anything about it. Gradually, it occurred to me that my cultural identity is perhaps weak?

And it’s considered low-brow by most societies. It really wasn’t such a big deal to be an Indian. And I used to be so happy on the numerous occasions I was mistaken for some other nationality. Who wants to belong to that ‘brown’ country anyways…

I didn’t end up living that farce for too long. And felt this intense need to protect my country. The name, culture, past, freedom struggle. As I grew up to be more individualistic, it became a more defined part of me. And just as I won’t tolerate someone mocking my family, I would certainly fight for my nation.

And the day I came back to Delhi airport. Saw tube lights. Ugly tube lights all over the airport. Ugly airport. Rude taxi drivers. Beggars. All the stuff that’s become classic India to most movies.

But it didn’t disgust me anymore. It just felt mine. I didn’t care. There was enough I’d read by now much to understand why we were at that economic or development phase. And why it would take us more time. And how congenitally, so many people and their civilizations are dissimilar to us. And how thankfully, we will never become an America.

As long as I’ll have it, I’ll give something towards the future

And it pisses me off to see people like Anil Ambani and Amitabh Bachhan donating 1.5 crore to Tirupati temple…wtf…What do I marvel at? The sheer stupidity.. or the bigotry.. the decadent superstition…

And I see nothing wrong in enforcing compulsory National Anthem because it’ll take a lot of time for Indians to love their country as much as the Americans to sing it without being asked. There’s nothing wrong with banning a bikini having the national flag… because we are different. Just like no one wants to be us, why are we dying to ape others?

All this is sounding so maudlin to me… hmm, especially since I have never devoted much space for beliefs in my life. And even though after this I’ll head out for a cigarette and really forget about it…

But it’ll hit back at me from any street in India. Because it never fails to remind me that it's mine. And that I have to do something for it.


3 comments:

moonstruck maniac said...

:)

Electric Shaman said...

I think there are quite a few of us who want to do something for our country. But what do you want to do? Educate all the poor. Newsflash government spends a LOT on rural education and their teachers are paid on par with those of respectable schools in cities. Teacher cartels along with the classic bugbears of lack of accountability and dude wheres my tax money going syndrome are the real evils. This is just one problem. Our system is in a state of morass and a developed country will evolve out of it. Revolution will never help (Ask the French!!) neither will foreign occupation (Ask the Tibetans). I personally believe in helping one person at a time. The process itself is much more fulfilling than the results. Lets leave the country to itself and help some of its people. That should be a good start.

Arthur Quiller Couch said...

It's all been said. 'On the turning away ...'
But that's the only way we can survive.

I don't believe too much in India. Countries are artificial. Humans are real.

So we ignore them to stay sane.