Thursday, January 14, 2010

Failed Indian Audacity

A colleague of mine who (would be called as Victor for now) met me the other day. The background is that I have been looking for a place for a couple of weeks now and so when I met him, I asked him about it and he argued that he knew this awesome place well in my budget and in the prime location ! What happened on that front is a whole different story all together .  J!

On the way, Victor said “Oh F***, I want to eat authentic Indian food so badly. I live so near to Journal Square and I am yet to eat it.” I didn’t say anything; just kept on listening to him.  He looked at me and said “How often do you eat Indian food anyways?” I still looked and said “sometimes, but not that often as you might expect!”

He looked puzzled. He looked outside of the car and then looked back at me. He didn’t say anything but by now, I was amused by the doubts in his eyes for my “Indian-ness” ( if that is a word J!). He continued to finally ask me “You don’t like being called an Indian, do you?” I gawked inside but showed no reaction outside. I took a breathe of silence and I looked at him back.

It doesn’t matter what I said in response to that or what he said next, but what matters is that he touched at a bigger issue here –  “My failed Indian identity and/or the lack thereof” and “Audacity of failure of Indian-ness in people who live away from the motherland”

I was both amazed and puzzled by his allegation. The fact that my ethnicity is Indian is the premise he made.  Around five million of the Indian citizens or people of Indian descent live in different countries across the globe, the question that haunts some of the first generation immigrants is “how much of Indian-ness  is right for being an Indian living outside of India.”

I don’t wear ethnic Indian clothes every week. I don’t eat Indian food everyday. I don’t have that many Indian kids facebook-ed with me. I don’t speak Hindi that much. But still I listen to the “Give me some sunshine, give me some rain” song from 3 Idiots.

Is that enough Indian-ness that is the question Victor asked me in the background however.

Indian-ness as I say it, is nothing but how we feel about India, and how we carry India in our day to day life. My name is Indian, and so is my last name. My skin is a little lighter than others in my community but still is Indian J!  People across the world know India as – land of snake charmers. Most of the educated and techno savvy people know India as the “banglored” location (As President Obama said once)! Some of them know it as a more mystic India because of it’s diversity and religious pluralism.

Movies? Let me ask you two questions about them. Have you seen Indian movies? Any movie? Well if you have seen Slumdog Millionaire that hardly counts as Indian. Any and most of the people I know from India, vehemently disagree to Slumdog Millionaire and to the fact that it represents India in any form.

So you still can’t think about any movies? But still probably would know that Indian movies involve songs, dancing around trees, a lot of melodrama and crying. But ask any Indian, that’s not all we have in movies. Agreed I hardly watch any Hindi Movies ( yes it is not India movie) now a days, except some of my old favorites but doesn’t mean I don’t like them. I still have playlists on youtube for hindi songs and as I favorite-ly have named it “my hindi oldies : )“

Wearing different but Indian clothes will make me Indian? Eating curry with wheat bread three times a day will make me more Indian? Does the cup of wine and healthy Italian food tell my ethnicity as English or perhaps American? I think my friend Victor’s thoughts are misplaced when he says, just because I can speak his language better than he can, and wear English clothes and workout, doesn’t at all mean that I am not Indian and am away from my origin. Discover India!

As usual, this blogger enthusiast will continue to tell you more stories.  There is so much of India in each of us and yet we look for India on Wiki and Google. I believe Indian stories are going to be told day and day out for next decades to come. Why I Iraqi friend asked? Because India is yet to be discovered in her true sense by this world !!


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