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