Wednesday, January 23, 2008

We, in India - - -

sometime back, i attended an international conference in bangalore. there were many many participants from abroad. a phrase i kept hearing as i moved through the crowd was " we in India " or ' in india, we---" or "we are this/that".
i evesdropped shamelessly
and overheard.
a person in mid forties with an exaggerated sandal paste streak on his forhead to a delegate from South Africa: we have idli sambar every day. you know that's the healthiest food. sambar is the indian soup. more nuritious and less harmful than the soup you have----(i refused to look at the face of the person at the receiving end of this harangue)
and there was this person from kerala: we were christians long before europe was christianised. st. thomas himself converted us. (one look at the incredulous expression on the face of the delegate from east europe and i ran for my life)
but the coordinator of the conference really took the cake. he was frantically running around, playing the model host with " here in India, our aging parents live with us" or "our classcal music is the most scientifc and advanced form of music", " the purest silk is woven in india". To a rather friendly britisher he thundered jovially 'your queen still has our Kohinoor!!!!!"
and just before the variety entertainment began, there he stood, beaming on the stage, wearing a scarlet silk bulky turban, green silk kurtha, off white silk churidar, saying ' yes, my friends. it's me. your very own Mr. G------------------. fooled you, eh? but this is our traditional dress(!!!!!!!!????)
the guy was from karnataka. i have never seen a kannadiga dress like that - except of course, chamaraja wadiar(in pictures) during the dussera celebrations. perhaps Mr. G belonged to the royal family---.
why do we indians do this? why d we showcase ourselves like this?
and why do we need foreingers' certificates to believe in the merit of our indigenous, traditonal way of life? why do we say with inflated chest and pride beaming from our eyes that:
bill clinton loves Indian chicken curry (the poor curry was blamed for his angeoplasty)
foreigners love kheer
tagore is a great poet. he was yeat's favourite poet (not true - yeates admitted later that he wrote that foreward in a moment of weakness)
kalidasa is greater than shakespeare
why this "it's all in the vedas" attitude?
this august, we will be celebrating 61 years of independence. it'll take more than another 60 years to cure us of this terrible inferiority complex.


  1. It's like western parameters are the absolute, and we're edging close, desperately trying to remain afloat, drowning all the negative cynicism that surrounds our country, and in the bargain looking like we're not comfortable in our own skin.I think we're making it all the more evident that we're not truly proud of our country, that our culture needs some justification!It's like trying too hard to prove that we don't have to be apologetic for being born Indian.
    Thanks for helping me understand that I don't need to strain against international standards,competing neck to neck, to stay acceptable.We just need to be us with a tad bit of civic sense and we'll do fine.

  2. Mollyaunty,
    Nice to see you back to blogging. I agree with you 100%.Even in office people tend to think we get a lot of IT work here because we are better than the Americans . Even trying to hint we get most work here because it is cheaper or because they don't really want to do it is unacceptable.

  3. brilliant post ammai! what u've written is so true... and the 61 yrs of indepenence line really makes u wince!

  4. whereas some people u 've mentioned sounds like theyre giving it unsolicited, probably some of it was rather normal conversation between people of different cultures. As long as it doesnt get to the "obnoxious bragging in ur face "sort of talk, sharing some "not very well known facts" about india can be informative to the foreign listener...But then over-the-top chauvinism should definitely be avoided


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