What Is India?

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!


15 thoughts on “What Is India?

  1. Yes it hurts when outsiders show insensitivity.
    But the unhygienic tag is well deserved and not a badge I am about to wear with honour!
    Perhaps we need that mirror held up occasionally. We weren’t always this dirty and selfish etc etc. Sad that we are so complacent about it, And by the way, we have stereotype images of the West that aren’t always true as well 🙂

    • Its one thing to have stereotypes and completely another to be insensitively derogatory about someone’s country for something as commom place as a papri chaat stall near a drain!
      I am not saying that we are right,or they are wrong,all I am saying is,considering the gact that how we look at things differently let’s please not be so derogatory about each other!

  2. very true Nabadip and its good to see you saying those real words to them.sometimes being silent is also taken as a sign of weakness and ignorance.and the way you defined wht india means to rest of the world is very correct.we are just a dot for them.

  3. every country has its flaws, there is not one country that can say that it doesnot have ample amount of flaws.

    admitting one’s own flaw openly is honesty, pointing out the flaws of others is often arrogance!

  4. If have really said those words, then I would like to give you a standing ovation. Some people are very judgmental, I am sure that they have street foods in their country. They may not be right across an open drain, But I can bet on the fact that their street foods are not devoid of pests and rodent problems or even microbiological problems associated with street vended foods. That’s essentially what street foods are, and they talk about hygiene.

  5. I agree with you Nabadip. It’s an idiot’s case, and, those fancy tones and derogatory comments – i am glad, you didn’t kick her… or throw her camera in the same open drain!

    P.S: India is a place for everyone – from billionaires to beggars – and, have choices for mood and money! Improving living conditions is an ever and on-going process – be it any continent! We have been doing a better job improving conditions over the last two decades as ‘one country’ with such a diversity from ‘gully to gully’ – seriously, earlier, i used to just say, ‘Unity in Diversity’ but i really understood how it works in India – India is Amazing! India is a luminous ground that harvests transcendence.

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