Friday, June 25, 2010

….And I struggle to go beyond clichéd descriptions…

Something that a friend said to me would not go away. He read one of my previous blog posts titled, America Vs India and stated how things I mentioned about India did not feel strange to him, as that is how he has always known it but he thinks that, having experienced a different system, I thought it was something to remark upon.

On a superficial level, I was aware of this fact. However, it kept bothering me as I went about my day. Was I being too nitpicky about life here? It was hard to say because even when I lived in India before moving to the US, I had plenty of things to complain about India and the direction in which she was headed( like most every Indian I should say). Living in the US, I had plenty of opportunities to listen to Americans lament about the deterioration of the US, which rather made me wonder if citizens of any country are completely satisfied with their country and systems!

Nevertheless, I still wondered about my propensity to compare the two countries, with India somehow coming out sounding weird in my descriptions. I think I had my answer while driving out on one of my numerous shopping trips to fill my apartment with “things”.

I was driving past a huge mall, which has some of my favorite stores that I got addicted to in the US like, Lush and The Body Shop. There are numerous other stores and boutiques where you find the best, the most expensive and most modern of items in there. Right in front of the mall, going past all the fancy cars parked in street side parking spots was a good old-fashioned camel cart, as usual loaded with goods to be transported. If ever there is an instance of the ancient and the modern co-existing together, it was this.

Another time, driving along the Sarkej-Gandhinagar highway, a BMW M6 roared by taking advantage of a two-bit length of traffic free road to come to a full stop near a crowded intersection. The top was down and it was clear the hip kids in the car, in their designer tees and spaghettis were high on hot wheels. Then, a group of sari-clad women demurely covering their heads trying to cross the road surrounded the car. Another instance of old and new marching forth side-by-side?

There are old-fashioned communities in the US too, like the Amish, the Mormons, some Native American communities etc. However, like everything else in the US, organization comes into play here as well and you rarely see them beyond their villages and reservations as part of mainstream life in a direct manner.

India is another story! There are too many people and too many different ways of life for any of it to be tucked away neatly in designated places. The contrasting images provided by this fact are too glaring to be ignored. If you spend a day, viewing a monochromic picture unblinkingly and then move on to a huge canvas splashed with every color under the sun, would not your awareness of these colors and the contrasting images they provide be heightened? Something like this happens when you experience life in a completely modern society in a relatively young country like the US, then move to an ancient land like India that is trying to accommodate the old and the new, the modern and the exotic, and make everybody feel at home within her borders. Also, do not forget “the old” is usually thousands of years old; I would not be surprised if the camel carts are as old as wheels themselves!

If my descriptions of India come out sounding weird and clichéd, it is because I have not yet figured out how to go back to appreciating holistic asymmetry as I am still longing for the coolness of a monochrome picture as opposed to the blast of colors my aching eyes are faced with here!

1 comment:

  1. you have brought out the contrast so beautifully!