Sunday, May 01, 2005

India described ...

Quite often I am faced with this situation where I have to describe India to these folks ... to these people who have never even traveled out of their own state let alone the country!
How do you explain our country to such a bunch ... I get scared that if I tell them about the unity in all the diversity their brains might just explode with all the thinking ... gosh, their ignorance is sometimes so irritating - but then when I think again - it just makes me feel so so so good :)
The quickest way that I am able to get "ahhhhh's" out of them is by telling them that India is like "Europe - as a single nation" - that explains the different languages, traditions, cuisines, music, attire etc. etc. pretty quickly.
Any other suggestions ...

The average Indian

Amidst all this chaos of this last week of the semester ... exams ... reports et all - managed to squeeze in 10 mins to watch the Aishwarya @Oprah show today - I know I'm late - bite me! in fact bite the MBA program :)
have seen Aishwarya on the David Letterman show before ... and this did not seem very different. Now I really don't like Aishwarya Rai ... personally I think she can not act for nuts nor is she the prettiest - but then that’s a topic for another day ...
point I noted with both these shows is that the questions she gets asked are pretty weird - in the sense that the questions are more targeted towards India than towards the person. So Oprah asks her all these questions about Indian women and Indian culture and tradition, what women in India think about sex etc. etc. - That’s when I got to thinking ... is Aishwarya truly a representative for India?
I remember having a lot of conversation with Scott, a good friend of mine in the program, and we would have these long discussions on music, movies, culture ... and somehow I always used to end up telling him that it’s very difficult to define an "average Indian"; or that I really may not represent the average Indian male. How do you define the average Indian?
Is he liberal or conservative? Does he listen to Carnatic or Hindustani or Rock/Pop/Grunge? Is he a racist - a sexist -... opinionated/proud/deep-rooted in his culture? Does the average Indian know the Mahabharata and the Ramayana in detail? Knowledge on
Kashmir, Gandhi, Hinduism? Would he swing or jive? Does he think that God is one? Would he speak many languages? Would he speak English fluently? Does he read comics? Opinions on marriage, sex, violence, peace ... Does he stay with his parents?
Well to me all these questions are quite personal and also very collective at the same time. The best explanation that I have come up with is that
India is more than 80% rural and I am the minority urban from India. Plus the fact that I grew up in Bombay which is probably the only true Metropolis in India! - So I really may not represent the average Indian ... so who does?
In that respect I guess it’s really unfair to Aishwarya that she gets asked all these questions in these shows ... what would she say? She definitely is not the "average" Indian - well actors/celebrities in any country are far from "average". Its definitely a huge huge honour to be able to represent your country ... I would love to be in that position - but then I really would not know what to say if I were asked such questions ...
so who is the "average Indian"?