When Being Indian Made Me Feel Proud….
We are a Tenacious lot…we Indians….Invaded and plundered we reeled but refused to succumb. British ruled for 400 yrs hoping to tame us, converts us, teach us their ways…but we emerged as our own…safe in our beliefs, our traditions, our culture, our rituals, our faith…so much so that world today is looking at us in hope that we would begin a thought process which would bring peace all around….
Yes we are tenacious…We are persistent when we argue..staunch in our moral policing…insistent in spitting and throwing trash all over our cities…unyielding in changing our ways for better…But then we also are determined to make it big, resolute in finding comfort in our myths, legends and miracles, unflinching in holding on to family and uncompromising in our food flavors (No wonder brands like KFC and Mc Donalds had to introduce menus to suit Indian palate).
Perhaps our dogged approach to prove ourselves right at all times is what that has kept us afloat. India has always attracted attention…Ancient explorers were drawn in for spices, riches and ancient knowledge and today too the brains and a growing economy pull the people from world over. The global influence of India and Indians is evident in NASA considering Sanskrit language for computer, in Harvard Business School studying the simple and efficient ‘dabbawala’ system of Mumbai, in many words from Hindi language being included in the Oxford English Dictionary, in Chicken Tikka Masala becoming the favorite dish of United Kingdom…so much so that the current American President even based his speech to address Indian-Americans on Indian political party’s catchphrase “Ab ki baar, Trump (Modi) Sarkar”!
Indians are becoming a breed of discerning travelers and recognising this fact, Lufthansa has come up with a commercial to woo the new Indian travelers insisting it is #MoreIndianThanYouThink
Though the commercial is quite funny but it definitely proves the point that ‘Like it or Hate it…you can not ignore or wish away India” (this has been also the tagline of my blog since last few years!)…it is here to stay; the country and countrymen!
More often than not, while traveling to many destinations through the length and breadth of the country I have felt irritated at the dismal state of upkeep of various monuments, of the trash throwing careless tourists, of people who consider, writing and scratching on walls of historic sites, their birthright, who spit and urinate at their will, who do not bother to tone down their loud noises in calm serene landscapes and the general lax attitude. I have wondered that is the misuse and untidiness our culture…are we ingrained with such callous attitude…I have felt disgusted and ashamed when I see foreign tourists avoiding drinking water, choosing not to eat local food or talking ill of the Indian habits.
But there have been instances where being Indian has made me swell up in pride…it felt like I was on top of the world and India was the crown jewel.
Importance of Gayatri Mantra
Two years ago I was traveling to New York for vacation and my co-passengers happened to be a little four-year-old American girl and her mother. The little girl was the prettiest thing I had seen but aware of the American inhibitions of talking with strangers, I just offered a formal unsure smile before slipping onto the seat next to them. Next thing I know is the little girl singing ‘Gayatri Mantra’ during the flight! I haven’t heard a four-year old Indian child do that in such clear and mellifluous voice. Apparently the girl studied in a private school in New York where they teach Sanskrit, importance of saying the shlokas aloud and Indian dance forms along with other subjects. No prize for guessing…I definitely felt proud of my roots…of the world being #MoreIndianThanYouThink
On the map
Another time at Chicago, I went to see the ‘Bean’.
That the ‘Bean’ made of some 168 steel plates seamlessly welded together mimicking a mercury droplet with its underbelly having a navel like center called ‘omphalos’ or Greek for navel, is the brainchild of an Indian-born British artist Anish Kapoor was indeed a matter of pride for me.
At Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco, a street artist called out to me and with folded hands said ‘Namaste’ loud and clear. At New York‘s pizza joint, the baker understood my dilemma and brought a pizza with veggie toppings, the African-American employee at the hop-on-hop-off city tour bus service proudly traced his roots to Gujarat…so many instances proving that the sway of the world towards India is surging.
Westerners are fascinated by Yoga and many travel to India for practicing and adopting it in routine life; Indian ethnic weaves and motifs attract travelers from West as also does the intricately carved forts and palaces; Shiva is a mystery to them and Kali a fascinating icon…
Symbol of Love
Taj Mahal has become the epitome of confessed love world over…
On a visit once to this magnificent structure, I witnessed the most beautiful loving gesture of an old European couple. The man and his wife kissed passionately to celebrate their sixty years of married life amidst loud cheering from family and tourists with the Taj as the backdrop…I was bowled over by their love for each other and glad that they chose the Taj for symbolizing their love..
Yes I have felt proud for being an Indian many times especially when outsiders have shown interest in listening to stories of India, its mythology, its heritage and made efforts to understand the cultural values or celebrate Indian festivals…
During my travels, I don’t go looking for a win over somebody but yes I definitely hope to be acknowledged as a well-mannered, humble and cultured human being.
A proud Indian that I am, I owe it to my traditional upbringing. It heartens me to see that India has found a firm footing in the world.