I think I have blogged about this quite a while ago, but I am forced to revisit this territory, owing to a lot of personal experiences now. Why is it that the Indians show their Indian-ness only to fellow Indians and in a snap can convert from the local-tamil speaking-Mylaporian (no offence to the residents of this locality) to the sophisticated, rich, cultured New Yorker? I was recently discussing this with a friend and he forwarded me a mail from Dr.Abdul Kalam which addressed this very issue. This is what got me thinking.
I fail to understand how the very habits they incorporate by living and learning with the natives of other countries somehow vanish in the presence of fellow Indians. The “chalta-hai” attitude just springs back to life and lo and behold, what you see is not any different than you would find on the streets of Chennai or Pune. It is okay to spill things in an Indian store, it is perfectly okay for Indian waiters to snap at Indian customers and grin and put their best foot forward in front of the americans. How salwar kameez wearing, extremely conservative Indians just shed clothes in order to look westernized or pick up accents in a flash after living here for just a few odd months. It is okay to flaunt new accents, show that bellybutton, show-off even more in front of the other Indians and post multiple photos on facebook in front of arbitrary buildings and streets on facebook.
I think there are a lot of other things that you can learn from this place apart from blatant swearing and using f*ck, Sh*t and other expletives sprayed all over that highly accented english accent or maybe that it is absolutely okay to roam around almost naked. I think people should take away the sense of cleanliness that resides here. Or how you would never throw a wrapper outside a bin here taking extra care that it lands inside it. Or how you should never meddle in others’ business. That sense of total and complete non-intrusion is simply blissful. You never even bother asking the other non-Indian students their grades or marks but among all Indians, it is compulsory to know every excruciating detail about their exams or grades. Take a cue from the academic independence that resides here, the research oriented, true learning that one can experience. Contrast that to the job driven, almost nil education that one receives in grad-school in India.
Anyway, it is very clear that the Indian-ness is exclusively for the Indians, because somewhere down there we are embarrassed about what we do or say and know that the only people who will listen to it are other Indians, or because change or adopting clean habits is never really permanent.
I’m not saying the Americans are picture-perfect or anything. But they do have some good habits which we learn, but never bring back home or even show the other Indians around. Its not a surprise that the only image of USA existing back home is of a nudist,culture-less country. It is because we never appreciate it or recognize it. For us, our Indian culture reigns supreme, complete with all its fallacies. When opportunities to rectify present themselves, we are suddenly filled with ego and stick to our guns. No one wants to see the american in you. No, they just want to see the real you. We do show it to them, abruptly morphing into our old selves whenever anything remotely Indian crops up. No wonder, Patel Brothers (the desi grocery store) is the dirtiest you can find in North America. Or the fact that in my apartment complex occupied fully by Indians, all the garbage bags surround the main dustbin and have not been cleaned for months. (Why did we not throw them IN the dustbin again? The answer is obvious).
I want to meet some truly westernized Indians. I refuse to respect these clothes-dropping, expletives-hurling, heavily accented, dirty morons. Why again do the Indian parties in the college leave behind the dirtiest carpets? Think again.