Tuesday, February 28, 2006


A recent conversation with a person who returned from the US after a six month stay there got me thinking. Why am I not enamoured of that land despite the fact that more than half my family is there? These dual citizens seem to have the best of both the worlds – the developed and developing - and truckloads of money. Why is it that I can’t bring myself to accept the offers to sponsor me to become a green card holder?
Mebbe it’s patriotism ; or is it the fear of being uprooted? loss of identity?
Too tired to indulge in an introspection and an analysis. It’s past midnight and don’t have the energy for an intellectual exercise- but I don’t mind looking back at a certain experience I had in the US, which might hold a clue to the answer.
While in the US on a brief visit, I found myself walking along the waterfront in Florida early one morning. There was a row of fenced houses along the waterfront and I was walking briskly on the broad lawn between the houses and the water. All on a sudden a bulldog jumped over the low fencing of a house and charged towards me. I stood there petrified- and the dog also stopped - I got a feeling that the beast also was as scared as I was, and the thought flashed through my mind that it was ‘cos of the salwar kameez I wore which might have made me appear like an alien to that ugly creature (by the way I’m not one of those ardent animal lovers – I prefer human beings). Anyway I stood rooted to the spot for sometime staring at the dog. All right. I can’t stand there for ever – and nobody seemed to be in sight ( what on earth made me venture out all alone in this land where toddlers carry guns to the nursery?) – thought I’ll pick up a stone and looked down - the lawn was so well kept that I couldn’t find even a pebble. The creature suddenly seemed to muster some courage and started moving slowly towards me. I made motions of picking up a stone, and aimed at it. It worked - the thing jumped back and began snarling at me ( ever seen a bulldog snarling – God! don’t people have any aesthetic sense? keeping such a thing as a pet???!) . I repeated this gimmick a couple of times but soon the creature saw through my bluff and started walking towards me – God almighty, I was terrified!! Just then I saw a welcome sight- a well-built middle aged gentlemanly looking white man appeared and was jogging in the direction of the dog and me. The dog also spotted him and appeared to wait for him. I was relieved – at least I will have company in my misery. Still better, a person who will shoo away the animal. The man drew closer but did not seem to slacken his pace as he neared me – soon he was alongside me but he didn’t appear to see/care for the desperate plea in my eyes. And as he passed by me without stopping or even acknowledging the presence of a damsel in distress, I called out to him. THE DOG IS TROUBLING ME, I said. NOT MY DOG, he replied without looking at me, without even altering his pace ever so slightly!!! The days of chivalry are indeed over, thought I with a sinking heart. I felt an intense longing for India where, I felt, even a beggar would have used his stick to ward off the dog - - - - --- .
That stupid creature turned back to me and was in a mood to continue from where he had left off, when a woman came to the wicket gate and called out to the dog. It bounded back to the fence , leapt over it and walked back to the house along with the woman. It threw a couple of backward glances at me which made the woman stop in her tracks, turn around and glare at me as though I were the canine creature indulging in bullying !! God knows what she thought I was up to! Not that I care a damn!

So much for the man, the woman and the animal of the developed world!

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