Going abroad is not a distant dream anymore. In fact, come summers and the Indian streets seem deserted (if you do not consider dogs and beggars) as most of us are ‘holidaying’ abroad. Europe, South East Asia, Amrika – you name the place and you will find Indians sitting in Indian restaurants, sucking a chicken leg with a noise loud enough to shatter the lens of the Hubble.
Indians going abroad is a welcome change when the roads back home seem a bit cleaner in their absence which in turn give some relief to the sweepers. It also gives me some sort of sadistic pleasure. The tourist destinations that boast of their superior infrastructure are tested to their limits. For how long can we curb the urge to throw that stained tissue on the road? For how long can we restrain ourselves from leaving a mark on the country in the form on a single straight stain on a wall that runs down to form a puddle? There are times when we would like to spit on the spotless roads, when we would like to honk the hired convertible to glory. No wonder Indians breathe a spit of relief the moment they land in their beloved motherland and throw the slurped paper plate of Dahi Bhalle on the road with tears in their eyes. They are doing a national service, they are helping the sweepers to retain their jobs and put food into the mouth of their army of kids.
What I find a bit disturbing is the way nationals of other countries behave in the presence of an Indian dipped in his culture. Taking an example – We love to put Champakali, Chameli and Coconut oil in our hair. It is a recipe for our lush hair that has been passed through generations. Then why do we see people wrinkle their nose all around us when we go abroad? Don’t they get the exotic aroma rising from our head? Now we already smell of spices because of the kind of heaped-in-spices and swathed-in-oils food we eat since childhood. Add to that a dash of Champakali on our head and we turn into walking aphrodisiacs. Is the wrinkling because of the fact that we at times forget to use deodorants and smell like a dead rat? But how can that be when the oil and spices are so overpowering to make a person lose his consciousness in ecstasy? Beats me.
We Indians are very colorful people. Ask a foreigner who has been to India and the first thing he will tell you is that he thinks the whole country has gone gay (which actually seems to be a very good idea considering our amoeba like growth). We love our colors so much that we carry them unabashedly to foreign lands. Even when foreigners all around us start wearing sunglasses indoors to save their eyes from the razor-sharp colors or when they hide their faces in the beer mugs because of the sight of the momma made jumper we are wearing, we fail to get the subtle hints. And why should we? What is the harm in adding some colors to their boring grey, blue and black life?
To curb our habit of staring is another monumental task while we are abroad. If anything remotely Caucasian walks by, our jaw hangs dangerously. It is difficult to make a foreigner understand that we stare at anything. It is our way of admiring the beauty of nature. We also point fingers and giggle. It is harmless of course.
Patience is the name of the seventh moon of Jupiter. That is why when we are subjected to the word while in queues in foreign lands, we respond with bewilderment. Why can’t they make a separate line for ladies, senior citizens, children, people in orange clothes, people in whites and people with two legs? How can everyone have so much time on their hand? Don’t they have a daily soap to catch, a maid to manage, a child to batter and a match to watch?
Should we do as the Romans do or should we splash our superior culture all over the world and teach them a thing or two? Why not turn the question the other way around? What do we expect from a person visiting our country? Don’t we expect them to litter the roads, spit till they end up with salivary deficiency, eat and drink food sprinkled with fumes from the roadside stalls and bring out taser guns the moment they see four men walking towards them? So if we would like tourists to be a part of our culture and enjoy their stay here, then why can’t we reciprocate in a similar manner? In the same way that we are all proud of our culture where people leave soiled diapers in Taj Mahal, people from other countries will be proud of their shiny roads and non-aphrodisiacal surrounding and would like us to respect that.
We know its their loss that they miss this chance to bask in our refined and better cultural glory during our stay in their country but we can leave them to their miseries. If we can adjust 7 people (dog included) on a motorbike, we can do this. Don’t you think?