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May 1, 2008

Cows, klutz and convenience: Superstar, India?

"India has earned superstar status", reads the intro on the Facebook group homepage for Shobhaa De's new book, Superstar India.

Even before I read the book -- though I've got two reviews on it from people and they suggest one should read it -- I am a little skeptical if it will indeed be any different from the other books on India; books that usually get stuck trying to define our country. If I was to ask you, WHAT does India stand for (and by extension, Indians), what would be your answer?

Australia means aggression, America means attempts at world domination, China means doing better at world domination than America, Japan means economic progress and bad housing, Sri Lanka means good sportsmen and Tamil Tigers... and India? Don't say illegal immigrants because we get our fair share of people coming into India too. And no, it’s not just Bangladeshis or Nepalese. We have enough people coming in from so-called developed countries, entering India on tourist visas and working and earning more than your Bangladeshi housemaid or Nepalese driver does. Why? Because our visa laws are far softer on people and what they do once they are IN India. Perhaps it’s high time India got a bit selective about who she lets inside her borders as well?

One of my earliest memories of understanding what India meant to those “abroad” was the Peter Sellers movie, The Party. He plays a “klutzy Indian movie star” who doesn’t even know how to flush. Funny that Amitabh Bachchan should be voted the Star of the Millennium by none other than BBC. Talk to anyone about anything related to marriage and the first thing almost everyone asks is, “Why do people agree to arranged marriages?” Hell why not, at least we won’t be like Japan where single people are committing suicide out of loneliness and depression. And why is it SO hard to see arranged marriages as a way of creating an opportunity for like-minded people to meet, who otherwise perhaps wouldn’t have met? Yes, it has become a way of forcing alliances too, but it’s about people misusing the format rather than there being anything wrong with arranged marriage per se.

“I haven’t seen many Indian girls hanging out with their male friends,” said a French lady I met recently. She lives in Vrindavan and I am not surprised. But then, do girls in rural France go boogieing at discotheques? Aren’t they supposed to be drinking pastis and managing roadside motels? “How do Indian girls have fun, I have not seen many drinking,” said another. Maybe that’s the reason why the stats for alcoholic (depressive and suicidal) women are less in India? “All Indian girls older than 24 get married and constantly talk about babies. Their lives revolve around babies,” says a non-Indian friend.

What’s wrong with a mother’s life revolving around her babies? I can say for sure that I am REALLY glad my mother lived for us (else I would be more of an attention-seeking freak than I already am). Partner’s mother too focused her life on her babies and damn, I am bloody glad of the man she made her son into. They are not Indians. I also know of other Indian mothers who manage to focus on their babies and think about and do a whole lot of things as well. Mothers focus on their children and it’s irrespective of being Indian or otherwise. And why the hell does a mother’s interest and her children have to be a conflict of interest anyway?

Anyway. I could go on and on, but if I had to find one word – before I find a better one – that explains India and Indians, it would have to be ADAPTABLE. We change, we modify, we adopt, we adapt and we are fucking good at making things work for us.

PS: Here is the promo for the show, have a look. If the video does not work, click on THIS. (Working on embedding video here, till then check the link)

Glamour Bazaar India


Anonymous said...

I'll tell you what one thing, every nation stands for only one thing, the individual, it's citizens are it's true pride. You will get the same set of people everywhere although they will be in different concentrations. That's the only difference, the human component remains the same.

I love my mother, I don't asks her to live for me, no child asks her/his parents to do that but they value her/him to do it. I think that people who value rave parties more than their own children don't deserve to have kids. There is no sacrifice involved, the parent merely spends her/his time on the object she/he thinks is the most valuable, it's sad that the answer for them is rave parties. In short, I agree with you.

However, I disagree with arranged marriages, I would like to know the person before hand before marrying the human. I would give logical love a chance. In the end it's rare that they work out, I would let my daughter find her won way, and guide her when required.

We change, we modify, we adopt, we adapt and we are fucking good at making things work for us.

I know several people of different nationalities who do the same, it's human nature to do so. There was yankee ingenuity, british know how, and other variations of it, each rising civilization thinks it's the best, different from the rest but they all eventually fail and crumble, because the fail to learn. Do you want to repeat the pattern?

Maxine said...

Shobhaa De is accessible in FB and orkut and has a blog too.I dont know why its surprising me.I have partially read 3 of her books.Partially because every time I came home with her book,my brother would start his drama and I would ignore him by saying"Whats your problem"?.The following days either the book would go missing or he will do something to distract me.Well...so to say never read her fully.And the books Ive read and still remember whats it about are Jamie Zeppa's book on Bhutan,Paulo Coelho's By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept and of course Gone with the wind.

My India... has everything in her.But she is getting more confused day by day without a balanced view in all aspect.We dont want to westernize and we also dont want to remain in our traditional thought.For eg, and as you said,aranged marriages can be taken as a way of meeting people we may not meet otherwise.But the freedom to decide to go with it or not should be there.In the west too parents do arrange dates for their children if they meet someone interesting.Its just that they dont have a prescribed system or form to it and we do.

I read a concerned dad's comment on one of the blog in ibnlive about cheerleading where he said it has to be banned only because children are watching.By doing so aren't we forcing our dirty thoughts to those innocent minds?We talk of respecting women.How many know what it really means?

o well...


Pointblank said...

Well... arranged marriage can be looked as a platform to meet like-minded people. But then I think you should have a longer courting period! Just like normal dates - where u meet an interesting person, go out with him and THEN marry!!! But in arranged maariages, decisions are instantly taken, most of the time after the FIRST meeting... Can we really take such snap decisons I wonder.. We dont usually agree to marry an interesting guy after the first date, do we??? So why arranged marraiges be any different!!

And then soemhow I think love has to be more natural, and less planned.. mebbe m an idiot to think so....

Eve* aka jb said...

"Do you want to repeat the pattern?"

Hmm. Valid point raised and agreed to.