Thursday, 23 April 2009
Tadka maar ke...Indian ishtyle
When I left for the U.S. my cousins were teasing me about returning with an accent (“Oh! So will you be one of those people who go to the U.S. for a couple of years and acquire a fake American twang!”), not being able to have the street-side food that I so pig out on (“When you’re back you will say, ‘Sheeessshhh…that is so unhygienic!” and “Oh! I can only drink mineral water…”) and in fact, not returning to India at all (“Everyone says they will come back, but no one does….”).
“Hell no way!” I said, then.
Today, after eating Chicken schezwan fried rice on the pavements of Free Press Marg, drinking cutting chai from a tapri at Fort and indulging in bambiya bolbachans with everyone from the taxiwallah to random strangers to my very many friends in Bombay…I can still proudly say: “HELL NO WAY!!!”
I wouldn’t say that my cousins were wrong in their impression of people heading to the ‘land of opportunity’. I have seen my fair share of that species – ones who become allergic to the dust of Bombay, cringe at the humidity and heat, curse the crowds and wish for nothing more than to go back. Those that go to a country and culture not even their own, for a couple of years, and allow it to completely wipe out the 18-30 years of their prior life and experience. People who don’t realise the worth of growing up in a culturally rich country like India, just because it does not offer them the convenience of a cushy lifestyle or the zany packaging that they have gotten used to or the aesthetic satisfaction they seek.
I feel pity for such people. I never wanted to be one of them.
When I was leaving for New York to do my Masters in Journalism at Columbia University, I always knew that I wanted to return home and I knew that I would. Call it patriotism or obsession or passion – for me my home is where my heart lies. And, that place is India.
Its dust, grime, humidity, heat, warts and all, is like the masala in my chai, the tadka in my dal and the lasoon chutney in my vada pav.
I could do without them, but then life wouldn’t be so chatpata!
Thoughts as of: March 26th, 2009.