Thursday, November 5, 2009

An Indian Experience

I have always felt that there is a wall, a barrier perhaps, between me and the outside world, and that barrier appears to be impenetrable at times. Many a times I have wished to tear down this wall, but each time, I have failed. I cannot deny the fact that in many ways I am afraid of the scathing real world; it is so different from my own glass house of comfort and warmth and however much I try to be a citizen of this other world I know I would be unsuccessful. The dichotomy between the real and the unreal became evident during my last India trip. I was surprised to see the new India (after three long years)—polished, brand conscious, bragging, rich and hostile and the old India—poor, emaciated, crying and broken. One who has an eye can catch these images very easily and store them or delete them from his mind. I chose to delete them temporarily and I cannot deny that I was kind of relieved to see no signs of poverty or desperation after I had disembarked in Nashville. In my one and half month tour of India I have often felt inhuman because there was nothing I could do to erase the terrible signs of pain and desperation. I tried to be philanthropic but when I thought that my one philanthropic act wouldn’t change the whole scenario, I felt helpless. What struck me most is that the canaille who are perpetually trying to act, live and pretend like the super-rich upper middle class and middle class people are successfully drowning into the false glory of excessive superficiality. In fact the whole country at one point seemed a superficial globe of unthinking people who only care about themselves. I know I sound harsh, but this is what I have felt. On many occasions I have seen signs of poverty raging in the city pavements, street children, crying beggars, specter thin child labors trying hard to survive for one more day while the unthinking, roll eating, food wasting crowd walking past them without even casting one glance. I cannot deny that modern India with its sky-scraping malls is a model of advancement, but I have to say that advancement hasn’t reached the nooks and corners of the country. Underneath the facade of avant garde gadgets and posh shopping malls, people still gloat in the darkness of caste system and racial discrimination. Women still now are the second class citizens of the patriarchal land, and however much a woman tries to explore her innate super abilities, she cannot be equal to the male members of her household. A group of women are even proud being subservient to the will of the male members. People often say that I am cynical, but I feel if one only sees good the evils of the world would go unnoticed and if that happens, there will be no opportunity for the evil to change its color. I think the quality of people in India has declined terribly. In the streets I found people yearning to find an opportunity to fight with each other and insult each other. Like the city traffic that does not care about the walkers, the city people too have learned to care less about their neighbors. I was wrong in expecting courteous behavior outside the aegis of my family. Overall, my India trip was an eclectic experience where in one hand I spent lovely time with friends and family and on the other hand it was a blow to my sensitive soul seeing the ugly part of India that no body cares about. India needs to grow up in spirit; mall culture and brand consciousness will do no good to the country until the citizens learn to respect and care about each other. Respecting women is an important thing and judging them by their attire is wrong. Growth and development come first into one's mind and as a country India needs to broaden the horizon of her mind and create generous and loving people in future. I wish that the next time I visit India the ugly scars of poverty, pain and disrespect would be eradicated from the face of my country.