INDIA

While the scorching, mischievous sun and dusty, hot winds try to take off your coat of worldliness, blaring horns and sounds announce that it never really matters where you go, you are made of India. Your support system reconnects and stands up for you like a pillar, and with a heavy heart, you bow and acknowledge that you have missed all that strength, love and care. It feels so good to return to your motherland.

You realize, India feels so real with its sounds, vibrations and panorama of life. You feel those years away from here has been a dream, this is reality. You just pick up from where you left, sandwiched in long gapless queues, moving along within a disorderly crowd and haggling for auto-rickshaw fare. Staff, watchman, shopkeepers, acquaintances share slices of their lives, joys and woes with you, as if you have always been there. Family and friends leave aside mighty inconveniences of commuting and toss aside their busy schedules to just be with you for a warm hug and even for tiniest of chats. They make India so special. They make India so lively. They make India, home!

Family makes you reconnect with your childhood, friends rekindle the feeling of wondrousness, and they together make a cosy cushion for you to lean on. After all these years, you seem to have forgotten about the comforts of leaning. You have been upright and always standing, facing things on your own… and it feels weird to lean on. And you do it awkwardly in the comfortable space created for you….for a limited time.

Also random act of kindness from unknown people leave you touched and emotional. Sometimes they make your mission of finding your destination, their job. And intuitively understands and relate to your needs. So there might be a person in the metro, who would offer his seat, and a lady who would lead you to the shop you have been looking for, a shopkeeper might ask you to sit in his shop to catch your breath or an ola cab driver, would share rare political insight.

Your kid might wonder- Have you known the person you were talking to mumma? You would reply – You don’t need to know a person to talk to here. Conversation doesn’t start or end here, it just flows!

Your kid, who has heard nothing but polite conversations, might even ask you – Why is he yelling mumma? And you would say – He is talking, not yelling. That is how it is!

You feel, India has not changed much. The Josh seems to be high as ever. The infrastructure is the same, except for technology that is making lives easier. You had expected a dramatic change but outwardly little seems to have changed.

As you pause for a moment in the midst of a road divider, and cars pass by you on both sides, making it very risky for you, you get the realization that India has never been about aesthetic beauty, enchanting landscapes, orderliness and structured existence. It is free, chaotic, jolting, nerve wrecking, and completely unpredictable. No plan works here, ever. India has its own plan to get your job done. This is how the country was, and still is. What is amazing about being here is experiencing palpable, throbbing life and humanity in its entirety.

When you return from India, you feel the world has gone still. No sounds, no conversations, no conflicts! There is a strange heaviness that doesn’t go away despite your structured, smooth existence in the new land. You go about doing your job, once again mulling over your decisions, divided and torn. You fold away clothes, do laundry, cook, all the time, ignoring the heaviness. Life is predictable and comfortable.

And then, you find an old Hindi newspaper on one side of your half open suitcase. It had wrapped something of importance, perhaps a few bangles. But it is useless now. You need to throw it. It is trash. But you can’t. You touch it lovingly, fold it gently and keep it under the mattress. You can’t let go of that… even the tiniest bit of India.

(Image via Google)

A caricature of an Indian in America

Here are 11 characteristics of an Indian in America.

1) His house smells of sambhar, spices and curry that subdues any smell around. An irresistible invite to those who love spicy Indian food and otherwise to those who cannot stand strong smells.

2) He drives a Toyota Something – the favorite immigrant car.

3) His kids go to Kumon Learning Centre as soon as they start school. They dream of Harvard while still in cradle.

4) His wife has to be in the visa wives club. Dependent ladies who hate as well as love to be here. The Ideal Indian Maid (helper) is sorely missed at all gatherings.

5) His weekend haunt is the noisy, nostalgic Indian Store that smells of India.

6) He is torn between the decision to stay here and go back to India. He keeps toying with the idea.

7) He mentally converts dollars into rupees on seeing a price tag.

8) He likes to show off American accent when talking to smitten relatives back in India.

9) He tries to mix, be a part of the cool American crowd but stands out due to brown skin and self conscious mannerism.

10) Bollywood films and patriotic speeches can move him to tears.

11) He tries to carry WTH attitude, but these words can rattle him – ‘Executive Order by the President’.

If you see yourself in the caricature, enjoy it and if you don’t, still enjoy it! It is written just for fun… nirmal anand!

Images courtesy Google

The Lady from Pakistan

“I am from Pakistan,” she said looking at me closely, studying my reaction. “Oh, okay,” I replied nonchalantly. 

In the aftermath of the URI attack, when the tensions on the borders of India and Pakistan mounted, I was ironically making aquaintance with this lady from Pakistan on US soil.
I first met her when my older Son started Kindergarten. It was difficult for me to let my son go to the Big Kids School in the bus all by himself. In the afternoon, I reached the school bus stop very early to receive him. My son arrived and an older boy alighted from the bus next after him, carrying his water bottle. 

The boy laughingly told me,” Everytime your son started to cry, I distracted him.” Taking the water bottle from him, I smiled and said, “Thank you!”

His mother had come to receive the older boy. She had her head covered like the Sikhs but was not wearing Vermilion or bindi like them. I gathered they were Muslims from India. She smiled at me and I smiled back. This is how I first met her!

Her apartment was close to mine and we walked a little together, talking casually about kids, work, weather etc. This became our daily routine.

But the day after the URI terrorist attack in Kashmir along the LOC, when every Indian across the world was outraged and shocked at the killing of brave Indian soldiers, she happened to tell me that she was from the enemy nation – Pakistan!

Something stiffened deep inside me although I did not show it. I mentally prepared myself to keep a distance from her. 

As I looked back to hasten my son, an unexpected sight made my heart melt. Walking hand in hand with his Pakistani bhaiya (brother), my son looked cheerful for the first time he started school. He had made his first friend in school. They looked absolutely comfortable in each other’s company, ignorant of the fact that they belonged to two deadliest enemy nations of the world. 

They were laughing, teasing and running around us, oblivious of the hate that surrounded their mother nations.

I stole a look at the lady from Pakistan. Apparently, she was having similar thoughts. She seemed worried about the heightened tension across the borders of the two neigbouring countries and for the safety of her family back home. Like me, perhaps even she did not want her kid getting lessons on hate in case the situation worsened. We were so similar yet so apart!

It seemed as if a thick line of uneasy thoughts seperated me and the lady from Pakistan. But not far behind us, our little boys, chased each other in blissful ignorance…!