"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)
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