S Mitra Kalita, a columnist for Mint newspaper, is leaving India to go back to the US, as she was an American Indian, who had come to India to spend time here and explore her options. While she stayed here she wrote about her experiences here. I have been reading her columns on and off. However today I log on to her article and find that this is her last post for the newspaper as she is going back to the USA. Few readers expressed their pleasure in her departure while few tried to show that they too came back but did not leave and are sticking around. I could not stop commenting. However there is a 2000 character limit. So, I had to jump across the servers and write it here.
First of all let me wish you a safe journey. Of all the people who are displaying their allegiance to our so called great nation , and the people otherwise who show such allegiance when outside and being called NRIs, one thing is common. And the common thing is their love affair with India, troubled at times and rock solid at times.
Well, here in India the majority of us are chasing the dreams which the founding fathers of the US of A dreamed and not what our Father of the Nation saw. All of us want the similar economy of consumption and high disposable income. We are overjoyed with the American lookalike IPL matches. We are overjoyed when one of our relatives is selected to work with a multinational company. We are overjoyed when we add one more car to our cavalcade.
There is no parameter which is not American or NRIan and we do not follow to appraise ourselves. And India/Hindustan/Bharat as a nation is quite older than the US of A, but it seems that not wiser. We are deep into the conflict with ourselves, from the first arti in the morning to the last show in the multiplex we are constantly trying to justify and define ourselves.
With every Indian coming back to India and every Indian going back to the US such discussions will occur and one half will redeem while the other half would blame. Interestingly the very people who have not gone to the shiny, slick, packaged and homely US , might not have keenly observed their immediate lineage out of which one soul, whom they always thank for leaving their mati/soil and going to some far off unfamiliar and hostile land to eke out a living for himself and pave the road for the surpluses and prosperity of the coming generation. How many of us, the Indian city dwellers, perpetuating garbage and litter everywhere have gone back to our villages, the rooted rock to hang on to and get nostalgic, and tried to do something. Well, I have not been to my village for more than five times and was never encouraged to go back and pursue my agricultural ambitions. Now
It is too small a thing to be even thought about. One air ticket and few hours will not change things and they have not changed. Languishing villagers, drudging housemaids , yawning security guards, sweating cart pullers, haggling auto rickshaw drivers, cheating taxi drivers, malnourished village children and old men merge into the very idea called India as much as the sedan cars, popcorn filled screenings of movies, gleaming malls, multi storied offices in Gurgaon, IT jungle in Bangalore, shining smart phones and laptops .
We cannot segregate one from the other. Fate, destiny, luck, hardwork, diligence, culture, tradition, love, greed and so much more have got us here. Is there anyone here who can make sense out of it? Well, I am neither a US returned academically brilliant techie nor I am an owner of a flourishing business or an ever smiling bumbling bee like professional in an ever growing Indian multinational. In fact, I am struggling pseudo this and pseudo that from some teaching to some evangelism to some entrepreneurial jingoism and very confused. All this change and turmoil is painful indeed, but the very first step to alleviate pain is to understand it. And I wonder if understanding will come from India or from Back to US.
As for Banaras there is no one to beat it in that sense. Banaras demands no allegiance to the village roots. It seeks no back end processors expertise. It has the world’s oldest database management system, where no matter when you visit a Brahmin, he will dig out the names and the village of your ancestors, and connect you with the entire family tree, you would not have imagined in the springest of your dreams. So, guys do anything do not challenge Banarasi. It is off the record, but Brad Pitt belongs to a village nearby called Jolia. His maiden name was Birender Pehelwan( Secret).
Neither genius, fame, nor love show the greatness of the soul. Only kindness can do that. -Jean Baptiste Henri Lacordaire, preacher, journalist and activist (1802-1861)