Thursday, 18 June 2009

Of curry bashing and a politically incorrect Indian

Last year, we had proud moments when Aravind Adiga won the booker for “The White Tiger”. I bought the book soon after, and to my horror found it to grossly whack our very persona, of that of an Indian. I felt a sense of embarrassment at being discovered. I felt like burning the book or blasting it off with Diwali leftover Fire crackers. It was highly derisive of the state of our poverty and a loud announcement of our sorry state to the world. Then came “Slumdog Millionaire” and this time it was a bigger shock. It coolly won several Oscars.

As with an average Indian, I was hurt and ashamed at the display of poverty, but it also made me ask questions. Aren’t we a snobbish society? We keep our front clean but what about our back yard? We live in a country where there are ridiculously shameless ways at which the wealth is flaunted. We also live in a country where there is disparity between a rich and poor to a level of insanity.

I am an Indian and I love my country. In fact, I love my country so much that I feel it’s close to being a romantic love. I call it a romantic love because It’s unconditional. I love the food, I have travelled length and breadth of it, I love its culture and diversity, I love its demographics and I love so many things, which would take so many words to describe that my readers would get awfully jaded.To cut a long story short, I love it as much as any other Indian. But I must admit that I love it more when India is playing in a cricket match, or India is attacked by terrorists. Recently, I have started to love my country so much more, the reason being the entire hullabaloo about us getting racially abused in a country called Australia. “Its curry bashing time in OZ land”.

We are an extremely proud nation. Our pride is so much that, if someone calls us snobs, it’s anything but an exaggeration. We think we are superior, we are intelligent and we are better than any other race on earth. The fact is, we are, but so are the whites, the blacks or the Asians. We are extremely cunning. We don’t trust people and in most cases we don’t even care about our neighbors. But we call ourselves the land of “Adhithi devo bhava”. Holy Shit!!

India is a crazy country. I mean , It’s crazy out there. I have realized it only after I have moved out of it. I was a bike enthusiast when in India and I cared and loved my Enfield Bullet machismo, as much as I love my wife now. I almost had my eyes welled up when I was departing it, but now, whenever I come on vacation, I am shit scared for my life when I think of taking it out for a ride. Look at our roads. There is absolute mayhem everywhere. Tuk-Tuk’s(autos) pass you as if they are eve teasing you and come just short of groping your wrong parts of the body. The level of smoke is so much that I hate wearing a white shirt out of fear that it may require a dry cleaning. Our drivers love the sound of Horn so much that their hands are glued to it, as if with Fevicol.

And I haven’t talked about our 50 % of the population. It’s a Thursday and it’s a weekend. I don’t want to feel depressed and screw my Fridays and Saturdays. It’s in a sorry state and we know it much more than anyone else.

We live in a Fool’s paradise when we compare ourselves with China. There is only one comparison and that’s in terms of population. Rest of the comparison is as naïve as comparing a sparrow with giant Panda, in terms of the size. We should know that China is almost twice as big as us and for that size, their population is marginally ahead of us. But for rest of the comparisons, they are a cool 50 years ahead of us. Their roads and highways are much better (in fact they are of the international standards), they have much better public education and health system.

OK, they don’t have democracy, but what’s democracy when you are starving and your children don’t have cloths to wear?

We have made our presence felt around the world. Take the case of the gulf countries. Most countries here have more than 30-40 % Indian population. We compare ourselves with China, but there are absolutely no Chinese laborers working here. Oh, I dint tell you about Indian laborers; they work in +40 Degree C temperatures for a paltry wage of less than 7 $ a day (around Rs 10 K/ month). And I don’t want to mention the cost of living in this country.

Every time I see them move around in bunches, loitering around in Bus stops or having a meal on the pavement, I cease to believe that we are a great nation.

We think we are great specimens of refined society, but I hate to say that we lack basic social sense. We rush ourselves everywhere. Every car wants to outrun the other car and ever bus the other. We don’t give way to the pedestrians and curse and horn loudly if someone comes our way.

Try crossing a road here in this country that I live. A speeding car would wait, and the driver would wave at you to cross the road, probably understanding that you are not as comfortable as him in the car. Isn’t these kind of gestures unheard of in India?

We hate to go to Indian restaurants, as my wife hates men who gape at her. We also hate because Indians make so much of clatter, as if wanting to say they care two hoots about anyone else around them. They are as yet unaware, that people go to restaurants not just to eat, but also to unwind or to have some private moments.

I feel, if we want people to treat us fairly, we need to earn their respect and not cry for it.

I feel we have no right to feel proud of ourselves. We should realize that we are one of the poorest people around and if we are getting bashed by people in some country, its not a curry bashing or a bashing of our skin colour. It’s a bashing of our sad state; it’s a bashing of our poverty.

Having said so much, I must also admit that I have started appreciating writers like Adiga, who have dared to give a picture of India the way it is, and not show an unblemished depiction, a’la Bollywood.We need to see reality as they are and not live in a false sense of well being.

Lets hope that we would have a day in our life time, when we Indians would get to be as proud of our nation, as a Japanese or a French feels for their country and rightly so.

Jai Hind.

P.S: My intention was not to hurt anyone. However, if i have done so, i seek an apology. It was unintended.


R. Ramesh said...

boss u dint leave any scope for commnt as everyword u said is valid and justified..sincere work and global attitude is all that's needed to push india forward..c how indians r progressing despite the politicians..that's great achievement...

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Ramesh: Thanks, WOW, i am elated beyond words. Coming from a journalist himself, its a great honour. Thanks A Zillion:)))

Rahul Anand said...

Excellent post, couldn't have agreed with you more. I share the exact same feelings on the attitude of our countrymen. Lack of courtesy, clumsiness, rude and indifferent behavior. (Of course there are exceptions).

After spending some time in another country and its like you cannot live in India anymore (and people mistake it for typical NRI attitude, but unfortunately they cannot comprehend the situation).

The abstract scientist said...

Hi Sir,
I dont completely agree that we should one day be like france and Uk and be proud of ourselves. I am sure that there are writers like adiga who write about their own countries. No country is perfect. Let's think of Srilanks, pakistan, somalia, sudan, Zimbabwe, Iran, Iraq, N. Korea, s. Korea. Every country has its own share of problems as no human being can be saitisfied.

You say of Indian labourers working at 40 degs in UAE. I have seen labourers at 50 degs in UP. In London, people complain for working inside airconditioned rooms at 21 degs. Its a funny world. It is individual perspective whether or not our country is good enough.

Good post.

The Panorama said...

A tough provoking post, Zillionbig. I used to think like you when I lived in India that there is no hope and that Indians are ill-mannered generally.
However having moved abroad and far away, I have changed my perspective.
The problem is: we are aware we have a problem but everyone wants someone else to do it, not them.
And also, we have so many things that we cand be proud of.
Our spirituality is an inspiration to the world for one.
I could list many things

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Rahul: Thanks man. For one to appreciate India and Indianness, one has to move out of it. Being in India, we dont feel how bad we are. Its a toad in a well scenario.Thnaks:))

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@ AS: I am not saying Japan or France are "perfect". We dont need to be perfect. We should provide for all and have minimum poverty prevalent in our country. And we should aim at these countries.

Every country has their own problems, but why are we looking at these countries. Lets look at +ives and ape the countries who have made it. India need not ape any one country, its great in its own way. But we should aim at being a prosperous country and is there any harm in targeting the rich nations?I dont think so. Thanks for reading and expressing your thoughts.:))

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@ Panaroma: I wasent like this when i was in india. I too live outside, i lived 3 years in UK(europe) and now for the last 5 years i am in the Middle East.

I have stated only the negetives, where as there are so many positives which we all feel proud of. But why rest our laurels in the past successes. Lets strive for a better future. And concentrate on our negetives. Our biggest negative is that we have so much poverty. Lets not deviate from the ground realities and say we gave this and this to the world and are great. Spirituality is nothing if people are not fed or properly educated. Isn’t not?
I appreciate your openion and thanks for expressing it here. Take care:))

AnjuGandhi said...

excellent post and excellent thoughts
but like so many Indians we only talk, when it comes to reality we all are like others.
In India also drivers wait but because here the people walk with the attitude that if he doesn't want an accident then he will wait. Why should I wait?

le embrouille blogueur said...

Very interesting post ...but I do not completely agree with everything you SDM didnot win any Oscar because it potrayed had other elements in it.Great write up.

Kaddu said...

Exactly! I agree to the very last word!

Biggest snobs, that's what we are! We live in a world of illusion about ourselves!

There is a very small percentage of Indians who are actually decent enough to fit in with the developed world. Rest of the country - as they say, "keep you rotten tomatoes all in one basket"! That's the main problem that the developed world is having with us Indians.

Anonymous said...

Good post and a good topic to write on . I agree with you, that only when one leaves the country that one realises the differences and starts feeling for the country.

Having said that, it pains that we as NRI's are able to list out the negatives so easily and quickly. We have been exposed to better worlds and hence we know the difference. When we were in India, we were like the same people there. How do we then educate the people and masses and tell them ..look there is a better way of living.

Unfortunately the NRI's prefer to take the better options and stay back abroad and no one goes back to spread the word and bring a change.
If every one of us, go back to India and take part in some ways to develop the nation..i am sure our negatives will be a shorter list.
Its the "educated who are willing to work for the country", needed most by the country.

Now that, you mentioned the negatives, is it possible for you to blog on Indians/NRI role on saving India..I am sure we all can brainstorm and think of ways we can contribute

Priya said...

Grand..truth revealed on the face....yeah definitely, if we club the existing positives (which mostly belongs to the "tradition") and can take in the positives of some country which has lived the term "development" in true sense, we know we can be better than the rest...the sad state of affairs lie in the fact that we try to copy them but some where we are overlooking their best and aping their comparatively negative attitudes. Me think the post was motivational. great dude...

Zeba Talkhani said...

What do i say? What do I say?

* Thinking thinking thinking

*Realized there is nothing to say except agree with zillionbig. DAMN

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Anju:Thanks very much.
But we should talk, the more we talk the better. The first step to change is probably talk. I can contribute in my small ways. I can keep my premises clean. I am going to see that my child, no matter girl or boy is treated the same and educated and cared the same. I can contribute small amount yearly to local charities. We make sure that we educate our family and tell them not to spit on the road or endorse anyn wrong practices on public places. We don’t drink and drive.

We all cant join politics,and neednt be, but if every person takes care of himself and obey the rules and regulation we would find India better. I guess that’s whats happening in western countries. Individuals follow and abide by the rules and regulations.Lets start the cleaning from our homes. Lets get clean ourselves first.

Blogging is also my contribution in a small way.
Thanks a lot for reading and commenting.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@EB:I never said that SDM won because it portrayed poverty. i just said i felt ashamed and embarrassed that so much of poverty was shown in public and for the rest of the world to see.
But i has show the truth. I have been to Mumbai many a times and the sheer amount of poverty is extemely depressing.

Thanks man:))

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Kaddu: Thanks a lot. We have to stop pretending and see our world as it is.

Lets openly feel ashamed of thats shown in the films and books. Unless we feel ashamed of ourselves , we have no way of correcting us.TC:))

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@anonymous: I agree, only after seeing the world , that we realize how backward we are.
See, I love my country so much that if need comes I shall die for it. I hate to pin point negatives about my country, but I am doing so out of despair. I haven’t exaggerated anything or made up things which aren’t happening in our country.
If we NRIs don’t pinpoint negatives, who else will?. In India people are like frogs inside a well. They don’t realize that much better world exists and they could also be part of it, if they chose to be so. Finding the negatives is the first step towards self realization. We all know so many good things about our country. We have been taught so much in schools and colleges. But how many people know how bad our infrastructure is, or education system is or health care is. They simply believe that this is what it is and should be.
Its not true that NRIs only opt for better options and don’t return back. NRIs have contributed so much to our country, we send the 2 or 3 rd highest remittance back home. So many NGOs were started by NRIs, so many Industries were started by NRis.
I may have talked so much, but I have plans to go back and start something. I need more capital and I am working on that.I have no plans of working or staying as NRI. I would be back and I would make sure I make a difference to my country. Small drops do make mighty oceans, and I believe if I can +ively influence the life of atleast a 100 people, I have had a meaningful life.

I will and see if I can write about NRIs role.Thats a very good suggestion.Thanks,

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Priya, You have said the very truth. We ape them and instead of trying to take the positives, we generally ape their negatives.Thanks a ton and it feels great to know my post was motivational. Thanks again:))

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Zeba: Thanks:)))

Anonymous said...

Thanks. I am very glad and happy to know about your thoughts and attitudes. If we all could go back and do something worthwhile for our country, then it would make a big difference. I feel low, when i see fellow indians talking negative about the country and trying to show the country as a loser, when they themselves havent contributed or plan to contribute anything.

I will look forward to a blog wherein we can all brainstorm as to what is our role and how can we make a difference for our country

Aparna said...

I agree 100% on everything you said, but have you ever thought why we behave the way we do? In a class of 50 students, a child has to be assertive to be heard by his/her teacher. If we dont run and grab a seat, we dont get to sit the whole way, if we dont shove our suitcases under the berths, chances are there would not be any place to keep them.
Being aggressive is in our DNA, and that is all due to our population. Most people, who have not been as fortunate as you to see another way of life,do not know there is something called courtesy. Nobody has shown them any courtesy you see.
So when a NRI writes or expresses something like this, I dont feel hurt, I feel disappointed. Because those people who could have shown us another option, are missing from this country. We will be refined when somebody bothers to teach us what that is. And when we are struggling everyday to survive, who cares if we block somebody's road or step on someone's shoes.
I have not lived anywhere but in India. Though I have extensively travelled over Europe and USA.
I cant even think of staying anywhere else. India has spoiled me with her generosity and love, you see.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Aparna: Thanks for your detailed comment. I really honour your opinion.

You are right, we are struggling, and when we are struggling to survive, who cares about the others.

However, i feel this is the time to change. I am hard core Indian and i hate to live outside of it. But i am also glad that i got an opportunity to be an NRI, coz i now where we stand and also where we could be.

We are a young nation and one of the fastest developing one. There is no doubt that we would be one of the strongest in coming years, but we have to set goals, we need people who can pinpoint whats going wrong. We need dickens or dostoyevsky like writers(here i mention adiga) who played very much important role in the upheavel of the society.

Lets stop being sentimental about us. Lets call a spade a spade. lets not say India is the best, because we love it so much. Our love could be spoiling it. Lets also stop this "chalta Hain"attitude and be sharply critical of our negatives.

I have made a pledge that i will never bribe for any of my personal benefits. I was called a naive and being in a fantasy world by everyone including my DAD.

I never meant to be blindly cynical of my country. My love for it runs in my blood and cannot be destroyed at any time. I feel hurt when some foreigner or arab says bad about my country, but forced to agree with him, bcoz its the fact. Thanks once again:))

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Aparna: You are lucky that you are living in India. I havent had a meal that i can say i ate heartfelt for 4 months now.

I envy all those who work and live close to their family and relatives. I am staying abroad out of helplessness, and for a living. I plan to come down permanently in the next 10-12 years, once i feel i have enough to do something useful in INDIA. I am fondly waiting for that day.Cheers:))))

le embrouille blogueur said...

Have tagged you in my latest post....ten things that make you go crazy ....look forward to seeing your post.

sujata said...

A nice writeup, but I cannot agree with it. India is far too young a nation to be given up on by her own. I too like you live away from India. But everytime the National Anthem plays, I feel pride well up in me. I have not seen such diversity, so many cultures, so many religions, so many languages ever in a country together. It is next to impossible to bind such diversity as a nation, which other place has that? either they follow a single religion, or a speak the same language, each country apart from India has a common factor binding its people. Its only our counter that has managed to trudge along, however slow, embracing all of this diversity. India is like a woman bleeding a thousand wounds and yet getting up to walk again. We are tagged as a third world countr our status even in foreign lands is that of an Indian expat and not a western expat so be it. But even the developed countries of the world have their poverty, have thugs and muggers, have road violence and drugs, have crime rates and divorce rates, have an incredibly silly state of economics. We as a nation are much better off, its not been many years since independence, give India a little more time, a little more support.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@LEB: Humm, Tag virus? lemme see, 10 thing, scratch, scratch.WWWWWWWeeeee

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Sujata: Thanks a lot. I understand, i Love my country, and as you have mentioned , i too get emotional and overwhelmed when ever i hear the National anthem.

But i love my country more now that i live outside of it. When i lived in India, i never understood what it is like to be an Indian.I feel better now and i am proud to say i am a proud Indian..

My intention was not to say the negatives about my country, i was just pinpointing the negativity so that we know where we stand.
All countries have their negatives, but i dont give a Damn about other countries. I care only for my INDIA.Thats why i am concerned.

Thanks for reading through.:)))

Anonymous said...

I agree with Sujata. I have lived most of life outside of India. I studied here since grade 1. This is a second home to me. But even then,I would like nothing better in life than settle down in India. Where else can you find so much diversity and yet so much Unity. Yes, we do have our share of problems. But so do other countries who are so called developed. We from our part can help the country by making our kids good citizens.

Everyone says that why should we have grand hotels and malls and multiplexes or big huge palace like homes in India. Why can't the wealth be equally distributed? Why is there so much disparity between rich and poor? But tell me don't we have to start somewhere? We start building a few, then a few more, and then a few more. More jobs become available. More comforts become available. More educated people will love to stay back in India rather than look for these benefits outside the country.

We are slowly and steadily reaching there.It will take time, but I have full faith in my country.

ZiLliOnBiG said...

@Jyothi: Thanks a lot. I agree and honour your love for our country.

Yes, India is reaching there, but i feel we are extremely slow. We will reach there but there are many obstructions in out paths. Our attitude is one of them.

Hope we dont have criminalization of politics and have free and uncorrupted system. Hope we dont fight in the name of religion and caste which is so much prevalent and politicians like Mayawati cashing on them.

I think we have many hurdles to cross unlike western countries.

Roshni said...

A nice,thought provoking post.....I fully agree with you that talking will at leats initiate the action ......if educated people like us don't come forward to help the society can we expect the poverty ridden uneducated people to take us to a shining India?
Nice thinking...