Friday, May 22

Do we have it to lose it?

Today Anand Giridharadas asks if India will lose its "charm" as it becomes 'world class.' Coincidentally I have also been reading about the Indian "heart" in Shantaram as he ponders over how it is the "heart" that really matters in India, and how that 'charm' keeps the billions from killing each other. And each time I read that I wonder if it is only a romanticised version of India, or are we really are as charming.

If you are a Punekar you are well aware of the 'impoliteness' allegations made against us. In fact, Facebook's quiz would categorize you as "overeducated, underemployed, lazy, rude to guests and think customer service is for wimps." (This in spite of the fact that people in Pune are polite, kind and hardworking. ) We are also said to be one of the worst tourists, and neither are we the most courteous of drivers. Indian languages are rich with expletives and we use them rather freely. There are mean high school girls all over India, as there are rude rowdy boys. We don't necessarily respect our minorities, poorer classes and women.

Just like any other society we have our combination of all sorts of good and bad people. So why do books and Western accounts make us seem like some exotic creatures with hearts only of gold? I would love to believe that we are unmatched in our politeness, courteousness, friendliness, dildaari... But with all my love for India and Indianess, and my patriotism I don't think that is true. We know how to love another, we know how to care and be kind, but that is just part of the story.

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