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Back to good 'old' times!

Of the many things that define the Indian community abroad is its intrinsic value system, writes Meeta Chaitanya.
PTI | By ATLANTA DIARY | Meeta Chaitanya
PUBLISHED ON JUL 25, 2006 02:40 PM IST
Of the many things that define the Indian community abroad is its clinging to an intrinsic value system that rests firmly on the importance of family and more specifically in that context, elders of the family. 

So much so that even those that are not fully in compliance with the idea of a huge ménage of family members are identified by their exception to the norm.

As a result of this characteristic adherence to the 'inner circle' as it were and more diffusively the regional community and the larger Indian community, most social soirees revolve around themes of home and family.

It is not unusual to see Diaspora groups and organisations focus on this aspect as they go about managing events for NRIs here.

Further, within the context of such events much importance is given to elders of the family. Activities engineered specifically to cater to the tastes of this essential demographic group are indeed becoming more and more popular amongst Indian residents.

It may seem a trifle indulgence to the cursory observer but even endeavours such as regular poojas in community centres all across the metro region, Yoga meetings, informal get-togethers which function as a catalyst for widening of their social circle and alumni meets organized specifically for people belonging to a particular institution or discipline are on the rise.

Of the Diaspora organizations the Gujarati Samaj is perhaps at the forefront of activities.

In April this year it staged the second annual Gujarati Samaj Senior Citizens Programme, titled, "Savouring Sixties" to a zealous crowd of patrons and participants at the Sardar Patel Bhavan Hall.

The extravagant show saw participation from Indian seniors ranging from 59 to 78 years in age and had over 500 attendees.

In Atlanta also, the Senior Citizen programme, ever since its inception in 1996, has won over many fans over these last few years. The SCP, in fact is slated to celebrate its 10th anniversary this year.

On June 25, it held a Fathers Day Luncheon at the popular Indian restaurant, the Bhojanic. The team of enthusiastic volunteers and equally motivated organizers canvassed a touching, evocative show replete with a fashion parade and other competitions.

Atlanta's Indians are especially happy with the efforts that are being made by various members of the Diaspora to make parents feel at home abroad, especially if this happens to be their new home after India.

As these events do not require tailored prerequisites of any kind, gradually attendance is becoming more forthcoming.

The free introductory seminars of the Art of Living courses that roll over every now and then are one such example. This course in particular requires no pre-registration and is open to all.

Typically held at public venues that are easily located and accessible, such initiation meets are attracting senior citizens from the Diaspora amongst others who are interested in studying alternative lifestyles, (and not just as a passing fad).

Equally, across residential blocks that are inhabited by Indians informal 'classes' on core Indian concepts and teachings as ayurveda, yoga, spirituality etc are not uncommon.

What begins as an offshoot of a small party where people discuss their common legacy soon becomes a regular outing where they commingle and share experiences and thoughts.

Instances of senior citizens organizing their own little weekend camping trips and walking tours to nearby Kennesaw National Park and Allatoona Lake sans their kids and grand kids are also been cited as heartening efforts by them regularly.

Most significantly, young Indian couples who do not have their family of elders here are encouraged by such progressive and all inclusive social dos to have their parents visit them. Comparative newcomers to the scene routinely encourage their parents and accompanying elders to participate in such events in order to carve their own space within what initially is an alien space.

Naturally, such efforts aren't pristine or unaffected but they do endorse the dignity, independence and individuality of elders.

The much-feared and spurned idea of hardened western sensibility blurring the subliminal Indian core sure seems a far cry when one observes such positive assertion.

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