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Indian at heart

It is well nigh impossible to find that one common denominator, the one characteristic that defines every Indian. The overwhelming diversity of language, religion, ethnicity and ideology makes the task an impossible one.

india Updated: Jan 21, 2006 00:50 IST

It is well nigh impossible to find that one common denominator, the one characteristic that defines every Indian. The overwhelming diversity of language, religion, ethnicity and ideology makes the task an impossible one. The ostensible ‘non-existence’ of any such factor has led to heated debates over the viability of a unified civil code, the ethics of religious reform, or piecemeal constitutional amendments — anything for the unity of the nation. But as a 21-year- old, I can safely say that the Indian youth seems to have found a way out — why don’t we all just try to be phoren?

And so, we reject the Indianness in the way we talk, live or have fun. All very well, for we’re all for integration. But when the young feign ignorance about their mother tongue, it reflects a sad lack of balance, and little else. Far be it for me to be condescending to those who don’t know their native language, but for those who choose to reject their roots, aided by their parents, I reserve only my derision. After all, if ‘life-defining’ trips to Disneyland mean a scoffing of all things Indian, then it is cause for concern.

Because of the superfluous nature of this modernism, the Indian young find the going tough when they go abroad to study. There is no place for people who, all at once, choose to snap their cultural roots. Lost between an old home they were sure wasn’t theirs and a new one where you are expected to know your history, the attempt to abandon ‘Indianness’ becomes an ill-conceived aspiration.

I find it downright irritating when Indian air hostesses speak Hindi with an accent. There is no need to maul a language, just to project a non-Indian image. The world is looking to India, and we are looking anywhere but. Still stuck in an age where sales of ‘Fair & Lovely’ keep shooting up, we are kept together by this very simple mindset — let’s just ape the West.

Bargaining with autowallas and yet getting fleeced, being told you’re ‘kamzor’ when anywhere else in the world you’d be considered fit, honking just because it’s the done thing, frequenting dhabas because they’re cheap, and still expecting a discount, standing in line, but not quite, calling all boys bhais, and all men ‘uncle’ — these joys are hard to come by anywhere else in the world. Being and feeling Indian is not that bad, you know. But I speak with mixed emotions. After all I’ve been victim to this problem too; only, I was the firangi, and it was an Indian that I longed to be.

First Published: Jan 21, 2006 00:50 IST