Was in the main market zone of Bhubaneswar a few days ago.It goes by the name of Unit III.While waiting for some Papri Chaat ,saw these two ladies.Foreigners.They came up to the Papri Chaat stall and started taking photos.Of what?No,not the Papri Chaat being made,nor of the man making it,but the photo of the fact that he was making it all very near to an open drain.
“Oh dear lord,how unhygienic is that?”,said one.
“Well,that’s India for you!”,replied the other lady.
Something snapped.I generally don’t react much,but the way in which she said it,half mocking,half derogatory,it did things to me.
“Just to let you know Ma’am,we do not go to your countries and use rolls of camera reel on how sad the state of affairs is on public spending.Nor do we say,”That’s the West for you” when another share market collapse takes place or some young boy goes straddling into a school and kills hundreds of innocent children.Have a nice stay and bye!”
Made me wonder about what ‘India’ represents to the world on the other side of the picket fence. After all that deep thinking, this is what I figured-
To many,like these ladies,India is the opposite of hygiene and a synonym to unhealthy street food.
To many, India is synonymous to a rich and aromatic blend of spices that tease the senses to explore beyond the realm of imagination.
To some, India is beautiful tanned women clad in yards of silk and dresses fashioned on mind-blowing color palettes and materials.
To some, India is hand-woven Kashmir rugs that can be bought at high-end retail stores for an arm and a leg.
To some, India is over-achieving children and their ever-worried parents crowding their neighborhood schools, Kumon centers and spelling bees.
To some, India is sandal incense sticks and small wooden elephants found at local markets.
To some,India is about the song and dance routine of Bollywood.
To many India is nothing but Taj Mahal.
To some, India is elderly couples walking the streets of their town in traditional Indian clothing throughout the year pushing strollers or holding the tiny fingers of their grandchildren.
To some, India is the population that stole their jobs, the country that lit the firecracker leading to the unpardonable ‘outsourcing’ explosion that chopped off their paychecks.
To some more, India remains a distant dot on their planet that has no relevance in their everyday lives.
To me, India is home. With its power outages, ever-increasing traffic, no-end-in-sight corruption and bureaucracy to its fabulous colorful billboards, sensational shopping alleys, mouth-watering food,even if it is made near an open drain!
If we don’t have a problem with our home,I do not see why others should!