Sunday, September 26, 2010

Happens only in India

India, the land of unlimited-ness, the land of one-ness, the land of cultural distinction, the land of unison, the land among seas and rivers, the land among deserts and snow-capped mountains, the land of saints, the land of businessmen, the land of farmers, the land of industrialists...the land of Indians.

India is that one distinct vortex of cultural mix, that spreads into its closest neighbours, so distinct, so unique, so good, so wonderful, that this place is named the Indian Subcontinent! There is no other region in the world spread across different countries, known under a single name for their culture uniqueness. No other. And at the core of the Subcontinent, is India. The only country in the world with two official names - India and Bhaarat are official names, as per the constitution.

Unity in diversity

India is a secular nation...declared, and largely followed. Where else can you find such a large mixture of Hindus, Muslims, Christians, Sikhs, Buddhists, Jains ?

Where one celebrates the festival of others', where one festival means holiday to the whole nation, and joy to them all. Indian where your surname doesn't matter when you are one amongst others in the crowd. Where, skin colour doesn't matter when you walk on the streets. One doesn't think he is superior to another skin, nor does one feel inferior. That is the freedom people enjoy and love in India. A colourful nation Indeed! To remove any argument on why India is known as "Hindustan", which may cause some tension between communities - it was not named so. India, or, Industan means "the Land of the Indus". The British twisted the name, either due to their lack of pronunciation skills of Indian words, or due to their sickening intention of dividing the Indian community for their "divide and rule" policy, and hence Hindustan came up. Anyway, it doesn't mean "the Land of the Hindus", it still means "the Land of the Indus"

While in some or most nations, animals are almost never seen on streets. In India however, they are free to move anywhere, graze wherever they like, lie down on the middle of the roads. What's more. We worship them! Some do cause nuisance, but that has been put under our belt, and we live with it. I've seen cats, dogs, cows, rabbits, horses, donkeys, ponies, oxen, bulls, buffaloes, monkeys, chicken, roosters, rats, and even snakes! We may shoo it away, but we don't cage them in places like dog-pounds, nor do we always leash them. Many a times, we feed them with "goodies" !

A traveling Indian, or say, for that purpose, a foreigner in India, will surely have the language problem. India is a land of nearly 20 languages, most of them, exclusively spoken in India. A language for every 600-1000 km in any direction. One may not understand what the other speaks. But, one thing is for sure - the locals have a BIG heart to show the visitors. A complete stranger will know that he is getting the warmth in a place where there is a someone, a someone whom he/she hasn't met, doesn't understand the language, but understands the mind, the heart. A visitor, is given utmost respect and hospitality.

I was in Shimla a decade ago... We didn't know it was peak season, and didn't bother to book a hotel before-hand. The whole town was flooded with tourists, most of them resorting to park their car on the streets and spending the night inside it, or standing outside (October, was the month). We were beckoned by a "Dhaaba" 's owners, who offered us their room for the night and food. That was the coziest night and the most sumptuous dinner I've ever had in my life. In a town in Uttar Pradesh, a Sikh house owner wanted to rent his house only to a South Indian, and was he glad to rent it to us. When we left, he just found another South Indian! When you go to Punjab, I'm sure no local will let you leave his house without eating meals with them. If you don't drink lassi offered, they might even consider your denial sweetly offensive!

India is one place where we have our own versions of Hollywood, with "B" or "T" or "K" or some other alphabet replacing the "H" in it. Tell me, has anyone in the USA or the UK built a structure for any of their actors? Or even a character? is there a temple of worship for Angelina Jolie or Leonardo Dicaprio or Chris Nolan or say, James Bond? Well, in India, we do! there are structures where people idolise the Indian film stars.

All the Kapoors and Khans and Bachchans and Rajinis and Mohanlals and Chiranjeevis and the numerous actresses and the directors and singers live not in their body, but in the hearts of the millions and millions of fans, not just in India, but in every part of the world! We love them, so do everyone else. Their birthdays are the most celebrated "non-holiday" days on the calendar.

Cinema is one glittering star in the sky. But there is a twin star that shines almost as much as that - cricket! Cricketers are role models, they are brand ambassadors, they are the face of some organizations, they are demi-Gods. If cricketers ran the country, I'm sure everyone would listen. When a match is going on, everyone in the vicinity unites, waving the Tricolour, cheering for the team.

This one aspect of worshiping cricket brings out so many different aspects of the country. Just look at the craze for the game. There are temples, beliefs, superstitions, brands, products etc. It is the single call for unity. People from every religion, every region, every culture will unite for this one event...hugging each other, sharing joy, dividing agony, moving forward!

India is one place where you just won't hear the word "no" from people. Will you do this work? "Ok, sure". Will you get this for me? "Yes, I will". Can you tell about this? " yes.. this is...". No matter how busy an Indian is, no matter how tight his schedule is, no matter how incapable he may have been in doing that work,! Why? Because we don't want you to lose the trust in us. We want you to know that whatever is asked, we will be happy to serve, though it may affect our freedom, time, schedule. Some rue their decision of accepting, while most adjust their time to rope this in, and work on this. If they don't know, they learn it. We all know that things get delayed a lot in India. This is one reason, people accept responsibility about which they are not sure about. The delay occurs because they take that extra bit of time to learn. If they were reluctant to learn, you may never see the completion. The other option might've been to just decline the responsibility, but that is not so Indian. so, the waiting game, is the result of the learning game.

So many other things happen in India, only in India - who can cook 20 different cuisines and call it by one name - "Indian cuisine". Indians visit a zoo and think they have seen it all, while the beauty lies in watching the Red Panda in the Himalayan foothills, the colourful pheasants in central India, the asian elephant in the forests, the Rhino in the North-East and the Blackbuck in the deserts, amongst others. Indians, by nature, are a bit carefree and "adjusting", which leads to some things like - irregular planning of things from methodology to roads to improper maintenance of the same!

All in all, Mera Bhaarat Mahaan! I'm proud that I can easily relate Bhaarat to my own name, and feel more Indian than ever. Whatever India is, howsoever it may have been, whatever it will become in the future "Bhaarat humko, jaan se pyaara hai".

This video is for everyone, Indian or not, watch it for knowing India!

Sunday, September 19, 2010

What if ...

What if...?

What if... I were a sportsperson?
- I could've been on higher grounds, being watched, earned more money, seen my face on every corner of the street, had a fanfare, gotten proposals... and what not?

What if... I were a journalist?
- I could've been to the farthest corners of the planets, covering all the stories I wanted to cover, make a name for myself, let the pen and paper do the talking, voice my opinion, earn the respect I wanted to...

What if... I could have made it to LA for the last two summers?
- I could've been realising a dream... I would've been on the sidelines of the world's best sporting franchise playing in the finals, winning it... If I was so much excited halfway across the world, God knows how excited I may have been out there!

What if... What if... What if...

None of the above 3 pass across my mind, even if I have nothing to think of. The 3 are my dreams, but not a missing piece in the jigsaw puzzle... because, I am working on them, and am riding one dream at a time!

"What if" - the sound of it makes you (me, at least) crave for something, like you are missing something, like you are not happy with something... You always wanted the extra hand, you wanted the extra patience, you wanted the money, you wanted the fame, you wanted the place, you wanted the rank, you wanted her face, you wanted his muscles, you wanted that status, you wanted the, you wanted the, you wanted, you...wanted...

Come out of it

Look around you. You have the God gifted body, a wonderful heart, a beautiful mind and loads of people around you to remind you that you are living a glorious life amongst them. You are so unique, you have the abilities no one else can dream of! You are the one ultimate self, like no other across the face of mother Earth! There is just you, and the higher self! Nothing in-between...

Why do you want to put yourself in someone else's position and seemingly try to momentarily enjoy the thought? The moment you come out of it, you will start to lament your current position, hate your life.

Replace the "what if"s with "I will be"s and motivate yourself to reach that helm, and not sit like a hapless human being who can only "think" of doing so. Dreams are meant to be realized, if you are serious about it... So, unleash your dreams, make them come true. You will have the sense of satisfaction the very moment you start to work on that, of realising it! It does.

So, like Swami Vivekananda said - "Arise, awake and stop not until the goal is reached".

Thursday, September 2, 2010


India is a large country, filled with different kinds of people, scintillating colours, myriad landscapes, glorious festivities, huge number of languages, cultures and all... The most diverse country in the world. Lets see what we think of our fellow countrymates, across the imaginary borderline between the southern and northern part of the country... most of these, are from my personal experience, having been on both sides of that borderline, facing and raising questions myself...

Here is a North Indian’s sketch of a stereotype/typical South Indian:-

• Any South Indian, by default, is “Madrasi”

• They have loooooong names

• Their default one-line dialogue is “Aiyyo Raama”, or “Romba romba nalla nalla”

• There are some Northern states, then there is a Bangalore somewhere, a Hyderabad there and then a Madras in the south most part of India. Kanyakumari? That is also there somewhere.

• They stole the idea of “wada” from the “North”

• Saambar, rasam, kozhumbu are the same thing known by different names in different dialects

• Celebrate festivals too early

• Their main objective in childhood is to study

• By default, good in mathematics, become engineers

• Who is this Rajinikaanth? Chiranjeevi? Are you talking about flowers, sir ji?

• Tough to survive in South India

• Very hot place, how do people live in those conditions?

• Carnatic music? Its soooo tough yaar. Hindustani is easy, see so many people sing it.

• They can't speak Hindi, let alone Marathi, Gujarati, Bengali et al

Here is a South Indian’s sketch of a stereotype/typical North Indian:-

• A North Indian, is mostly, a “Seth”

• They have un-pronouncable names

• “haan”, “nageem”, “boltha ka gotha hye”, “arrey yaar” . . . Only north Indian language – Hindi

• There is South India (South Indians know the 4 states), then there is a Bumbaai, and then a Delhi. Rest are there or there about.

• North Indians don’t know anything about “vadai”, medhu vadai, masala vadai, saambar vadai.

• Chapati, roti, naan, phulka, paratha? All the same, saar... We have twisted paratha, and copyrighted it as parotha/burotta.

• Celebrate festivals too late

• They do not care about primary education!

• By default, businessmen

• Amitabh Bachhan? Eh? Who?

• Impossible to live in North India. Saar, I don’t know Hindi!

• Winter in North? How can human live there? Sweater? I wear it when temp goes below 22 degrees

• Carnatic music is the best, you know aah? History says it! Hindustani aaa? I don’t know many people who sing it, saar.

• No way they can speak any South Indian Languages, they don't even know what languages are spoken here. madrasi is not a language, saar!

Unity in diversity. Thats India :-)

Mera Bhaarat Mahaan !