Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Culture.. religion and the sorts

I got to know some Indians even in this jungle... thank god for cricket. My first impression of them was of a bunch of confused undergrads or ABCDs.. the usual, caught between cultures types, checkin out random babes while still listening to Penn Masala.

However some things changed that impression this last weekend. After our game, we went to one of the guys' place, the only non-student in the lot.. he cooked for us n stuff too. What then happened had really got me thinking. They shared all the work.. there was no dining table.. so two guys set up the place in the hall for everyone to sit around and eat, 2 others helped the "cook".. everyone settled around on the floor to eat.. and then they got into a prayer, the one that they recite before eating. For a moment I did feel ashamed I must admit as I was probably the only one who didn't know the prayer, and I was the last one to have come here from India. Ofcourse the next moment I consoled myself by the fact that I was not a religious person, and that I had a whole different set of values and beliefs, that I never prayed.

Looking away from myself, I moved my focus back on them... I still thought they were a confused bunch, but I now realised they weren't entirely lost. I've been to the homes of two of the guys, both houses welcome you with the Indian flag proudly displayed in the living room, though this was something even I had always wanted.

We ate over conversations about the things they did together, and how happy they were where they were. Once we were done, the group once again segregated, with each one taking on a role.. cleaning up, trashing, rearranging. I was told that if we had not used the plastics plates, one of them would even do the dishes.

They lived about 5min from each other.. so a really close-knit group. They had converted the lone Marathi also to Gujju-ism. I asked them if they ever thought about moving to a big city like NY or LA or ATL.. I didn't get a single yes. They were all so happy where they were, countryside Nashville. One guy explained to me that its all the same once you have friends where you are, the place doesn't matter. I couldn't agree more. I'd much rather be in Atlanta where I know people than be in a larger, grander NY where I know nobody. But then again, in a place like NY,it really doesnt take much to get to know people, so I'd get used to that in no time at all, so it shouldnt really matter. Then I guess its only about the depth of your relationships. Can that really keep you moving on?

I rode along with the group as we went bowling n just driving.. nothing to me suggested anyone wanted to leave all of this behind.. but who knows where their jobs would take them.

So maybe the size of this particular group wasn't large enough.. the demographics weren't too varied.. they were all gujjus.. known to be the more religiously conscious among Indians.. but looking at them.. I just thought.. do Indian parents here go that extra mile in bringing up their kids, afraid that this culture may corrupt them, that they end up raising them to be far more religion and culture conscious than most Indian kids? I know my aunt drives 40miles twice a week just to take her kid to a classical music class, the classes in every galli-nukkad of India are so scarcely populated, but I also wonder how long would their upbringing help them? What will happen when alcohol enters their lives? Would they begin to lose it? Would they take the songs about guns and gangs way too seriously?

Two guys from the group had been to this religious camp last week at the University of Texas at Austin. They told stories about how people just like them had been reduced to tears by the story of Abhimanyu. They were still sporting the spiked hair and loose shorts, but they had the tilak. All this makes me wonder.. will they just change, or will they hold?

As for me, I've come to believe that people like me just somehow grow way more patriotic after coming here, something that I don't understand. We're pretty much traitors to our country, yet we feel more proud of it now when we're away from it. We wanna go to India.. but just for a holiday. We're too afraid of the discomforts. We've traded a lot for comforts.

I go to bed listenin to a meaningless, yet famous song "This is why I'm hot".. but I'm gonna wake up at a crazy hour to see Sachin bat. Am I any different? I wonder..

3 comments:

dharma said...

dude, u are growing old, talking about brining up ur kids and all...... get married hiten..... ;)

David said...

"We're pretty much traitors to our country, yet we feel more proud of it now when we're away from it. We wanna go to India.. but just for a holiday. We're too afraid of the discomforts. We've traded a lot for comforts."

You're on the money here. We want to get far away from India and yet look for little oases of India here in America.

Anu said...

i'm hot coz i'm fly!
you aint coz you not.

goooooooooo india
:P okay bye

 
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