At the outset, here is wishing everyone a bright, happy, healthy, prosperous etc etc New year. ( I emphasize on healthy since it is the biggest asset one can possess at any time…sad we never realize its worth..perhaps 6 bouts of bad cold in a single year should make you start wishing for it!). So, the parties are over, the wishes all said ( on facebook or orkut or Linkedin or some social networking site) and we are all at the fag end of our vacations. This vacation was by far the best I ever had. I was lucky to spend my new year and winter break in Jersey City, New Jersey.
No, this post aint about the US of A. In fact it is about this particular genre of people called the desi’s. This set of people gets identified right from being the only ones pushing and shoving and breaking queues at the immigration counter. I did hear one Homeland Security guard loudly exclaim when he saw one saying ‘ Uh-oh! Air India flight is here!”.
In USA there is great importance given to the simple phenomenon of pushing (which we gladly do at any public place, shops, trains, buses). No one pushes others, breaks queues, jumps lines. The fines and punishments are pretty hefty and not only that, there is a huge outcry from the people behind and the other person concedes. All over Jersey, there is a very huge population of Indians settled here. They are pretty Americanized, all with curly accents, sporting the hey-im-an-Indian-in-USA attitudes. They are exceedingly well-behaved as well. But there is the catch. They do all that only in front of the Americans. An Indian is treated just the way he is treated back in India, complete with the pushing and shoving and glaring.
I realized this as I stood freezing in the bone-chilling wind of Bridgewaters Temple. It is a very large Shiva-Vishnu temple with a large cultural society to boot. It is a tradition here to visit the temple on New Year’s to pray and seek blessings for the forthcoming year. We went there as well. It was a long way from the parking and school buses shuttled from the temple to the parking lot to ferry people. It was mighty cold. It was a little India there. A cacophony of sounds filled with words from various Indian languages filled my ears. The familiar coconut and ghee smell of temples filled my nostrils and the chant of mantras made me smile with pleasure. Only until someone pushed me over and ran right past me to get the bus. And then, it was back to square one. Swearing, frustration and tons of tongues clicking. Families bribed the policemen to help them jump queues, elbowing in the line standing and lot of anger. It was all sadly familiar.
The M.G road in Little India is perhaps the dirtiest one can find here. The supermarket (worse kept that even the awesome Indian ones in India) continues to remain the way it is because of the surity of business. They know people will come and buy groceries even if located in the middle of a pig-sty,because they are the only ones who stock the Indi-groceries!
I want to simply ask this question. WHY ? India has so many things to be proud of! We have the best , spiciest and healthies cusines with the best range of food items. Then why the dirt when we sell?? If we behave so respectfully with others even in our own country ( offering plenty smiles…whilst here you get x-ray stare downs!) why the animosity? Why the anger ? Why the competition for everything ranging from grades of school-kids to the colour of the pashmina?? Why are we showcasing such an attitude and life to others when we can be the pioneers of change? The people who can make everyone realize that we are not a third world country anymore and feel proud of it??
We are an extremely friendly society. Indians are described as being the warmest and most helpful. Yes, we are. The concept of friendly neighborhood is very much alive! Then why not bring that here? I might not know the nitty-gritties of actually living here and my observations are from a lay-man’s point of view but I think a friendly smile is non-toxic everywhere! The only conversation here is between friends. The only warmth is to relatives and close friends. I am sure, it is never like that back home. I never felt it before. The isolation despite being in a crowd. The fact that each family/individual had enclosed himself in this transparent box shutting himself off from everyone else and just being in his own little world. Sad.
Perhaps the reason lies in the competitive environment we are subjected to since we are around 5 and which follows us for life. Yes, it is the survival of the fittest but hey, its not the survival of the rudest or angriest or the most self-centered! I guess the fine line needs to be unearthed from all the muck that it has accumulated. The fine line between being the fittest and rudest, and from being the nicest to the smartest.
The Indians here are perhaps doing the most fabulous job professionally and academically. But something lacks, personally.