We had Mira Nair as a guest lecture in our city last week and i have to say, the lady can speak well.
The crowd was mostly caucasians sprinkled with desis and most of them have watched monsoon wedding, salaam bombay & missisippi masala. The effect Slumdog Millionaire has on people. Let me clarify, i’m not going to patronize that slumdog is an Indian film or that India has finally arrived. How many times can India arrive at the global stage?
Mira Nair’s talk on Namesake rang a bell closer to home. When we were heading out of the hall, i was thinking to myself, what is it with us that we want to fit in? For me India is always home. I can live here till i die but i would never feel nor call it home. The heat of Chennai, the madness of Rajni, the blaring of Sun TV, the buzz of vegetable vendors, friendly neighbours, not so friendly neighbours, gossiping aunties, swarming relatives, exotic weddings, colorful dresses and a piece of me. I would miss all that eternally. But this post is not about that.
When we are here or in any other part of the world, the first thing we do is google fellow indians in the neighbourhood. We try to find a community, make a close knit group of Indians. I dont suppose there is anything wrong with that but i have always frowned upon the clannish behaviour. Yet i would happily be a part of it here. The joy of finding a Indian grocery store, googling theaters that screen indian movies, finding meetup groups, visiting temples i have done it all.
There is also a group of Indians here who have a chip on their shoulder. They would not smile at you at restaurants acknowledge your presence at the grocery store(not necessarily Indian). This breed of Indians think they are “smarter” and more “modern” . They would not want to socialize because we are prob a class lower. It makes me grin, sometimes at their perceptions and sometimes at their ignorance. Wearing shades, straightening your hair, wearing tighter clothes(sometimes much too tight and much too short) does not make you cooler. Infact it makes you insecure. (Pardon me, but i’m not generalizing). It makes me wonder if i trace back the roots, then we would prob be even related.
I’m not condemning indians who wont socialize with fellow indians not am i appreciating the people who do. We have our own battles to fight, our own principles and our own lives to live. So strictly no name calling or judging the people who are not like me. It just makes me wonder if we have finally reached a stage where being in a foreign place does not make you special. I have always remembered my cousin who use to fly back from US every two years and the entire house would go crazy on his arrival. I would wonder why is it so special when people return?
I can strongly say this craze has finally ended. Being in India is a choice many people take voluntarily. Going to a foreign land is what many people choose not for better living but for a better experience. Somehow i can see the changes happen right before me. The next generation would prob choose to be home and that would be a better option. That is why my friends, India has finally arrived.
Being at home still makes you special and content. We dont have to change our outlook, make excuses for the accent, wonder if the neighbours can smell our curry powder or even change our wardrobe. Everybody knows what it takes to come from a country of myriad colors and diverse traditions. The better part is we feel proud about it. You dont realize how much you miss something until it is really missing!!!