For many years, Republic Day has meant a holiday from school, college and/or work. Of course, some of us, my sister included wake up and attend a flag hoisting ceremony at the institution we’re attached to at the time. The rest of the day is spent doing pretty much what we would on a regular day. And this year, as I imagine, would be the case, city folk might have taken off for a holiday to enjoy the ‘long weekend’.
As I type this blog, from my desk in my apartment in LA, listening to a Western artist’s music after my failed attempt at cooking pasta, I’m thinking about what makes me Indian in 2015. For sure, my accent is a give away in this American city. And that most foreigners find it difficult to pronounce my name. Interestingly, a Sidecar driver mistook me for a doctor. I definitely look Indian. I mean, I’m darker in complexion, shorter in height, have a strange nose and big hips. LOL
Sridevi in English Vinglish
It’s surprising when I feel most Indian. While writing my screenplay. I imagine song and dance sequences at crucial intervals. I still expect an intermission when I watch a film. I need to get that samosa. But that’s just one aspect of it. Because I actually think in English and write in English because funnily enough, it is my native language. Let me correct that, it is my first language and the language and culture of my thoughts. I say culture, because I probably enjoy a burger more than vada pav. Okay, that’s a bad example. But in all honesty, just like the protagonist of my script, I watch American television shows, eat Italian food, spend way too much time on Facebook and can’t wrap my head around ‘arranged marriage’.
Kajol & SRK in DDLJ
I struggle with the idea of freedom in the independent India of my residence. I have only lived in the financial capital, Mumbai and the city lights haven’t dimmed but the city’s sparkle sure has. I have to impose a censor on my thoughts, on my writing, for worry of what my family, peers, authorities might have to say or do. I still have to go on arranged marriage dates and deal with obnoxious men. I still have to wear ‘traditional’ clothes when and if I go to the temple. And a film like PK does get caught in a controversy. I can sing along to Hindi music and enjoy Bollywood movies but i can’t write in the language. Like my favourite author Vikram Seth, English is the instrument of my choice.
I know we’ve come a long way in these 66 years. And I also know we still have many a issues at hand to deal with.
But as someone who belongs to the youth of the nation, I find myself struggling with the idea of equality and independence. I find us becoming slaves to Western ideologies, individualistic in our approach, enamoured by American influence. We speak a foreign language in our homes. We celebrate ‘English’ festivals with more gusto than we do national holidays. And I’m not complaining. This is my observation. I don’t know who to identify with. I can’t find my way through Google Maps for this route.
I don’t know how you feel about being a young Indian. On most days, I’m happy with the opportunities available to me. But I don’t usually think about giving back to my nation. Some of us don’t even know our political leaders. Our prime minister had to take to social media campaigning to reach out to us!
So, basically, do my words resonate with you? Do you ever think about what makes you Indian?