Sunday, 13 June 2010

Mint Lounge: I May Not Be An Indian

Yesterday, this article ( by Mint Lounge editor, Priya Ramani, was probably the most read and most RTed article on Twitter (Well, it was the most RTed tweet on my timeline). I think it is a brilliant article. It takes a certain amount of courage to publish an opinionated article like that, knowing that she would face brickbats for it. And face brickbats she did.

To me, it seemed like a piece written one day in an outburst of emotion. The title and the tone of the article strongly suggest it. But then I think, the author got it all wrong. None of the things she wrote, mean that she is not Indian.

Being Indian does not mean you must like mangoes. Being Indian does not mean you've to read Chetan Bhagat or Paulo Coelho (I've read their bestsellers, and I'll run a mile away at the very sight of their books). What you wear or want to wear is your choice, being Indian has nothing to do with it. A few Bollywood actresses wear nothing at all. Does that make them any less Indian? I don't watch any Indian soap on air. In fact I hate them from the bottom of my heart. Does that make me non-Indian? Nor do I speak or even make eye contact with people in my compartment while travelling. So I'm not Indian?

No sense of pride when she's made to stand in attention in a movie theatre, but impatience that her popcorn's getting cold. Well, for the lack of another word, I'd say that that is an attitude problem, and still has nothing to do with being Indian. The first time I had to stand in attention for the national anthem in a movie theatre I did not feel pride, but I did feel a sense of renewed respect for the national anthem. After all, the Indian national anthem is known to be one of the most melodious anthems in the world, and that is something to be proud of really. Standing in attention for the national anthem is not about pride, but about respect.

Only girl child can save India? I think it's the mutual co-operation and respect between girls and boys, rather women and men that can save India. Girl child alone cannot. That, still, is her personal opinion. I don't see what it has to do with being Indian. The girl-boy disparity exists all over the world and not only in India.

We aren't the greatest people in the world. True, only a zealot would say otherwise. She never understood Indians' sense of (fake) pride, as she puts it, during the "Jai Ho" phase. Agree Jai Ho wasn't A. R. Rahman's best. I'd also like to say that Slumdog Millionaire isn't an Indian movie, but a movie about India made by a foreigner, and we need not feel proud that it won Oscars. But aren't we happy that A. R. Rahman, with that song, has catapulted Indian contemporary music (the kind I think the author likes since she doesn't like Lata's slow version of the national anthem) on to the world stage? Why shouldn't that make us happy, and proud?

We're always on steroids when it comes to festivals and weddings, she says. Diwali, she points out. Every country has its own traditions and way of celebrating festivals. If she were in another country, she'd probably rant about them too. Few days a year, people get to let go off all inhibition, be themselves and enjoy, and she says we're on steroids. Still, it isn't about not being Indian. The author probably needs to introspect her outlook towards life. Festivals and weddings are happy occasions meant for enjoyment.

Being Indian doesn't mean you've to believe in Ram Rajya. That's what the BJP believes in. I'm Indian and I don't believe in Ram Rajya. I strongly believe in secularism. That doesn't mean I'm not Indian.

Aren't there Indians that invite only about a 100 people to their daughters' weddings? How does the number of people invited to a wedding judge how much Indian one is?

The author has harped on the stereotype that outsiders have about Indians, and tried to fit herself in it. She didn't fit in. Doesn't mean she's not Indian.

In fact, I see it this way. I think she's sufficiently Indian because she came back to India after her master's. It's so much better than studying in India and taking all the knowledge abroad to serve another country. She's aware that India hasn't produced any serious scholars after independence. That bothers her. If she weren't Indian, would it? Dunking non-biodegradable idols into the ocean disturbs her. Doesn't that mean she's worried that we're polluting our own oceans? The very fact that she has pointed out where she thinks we might be wrong is proof enough that she's an Indian who wants change, however right or wrong her personal opinions are. I think all that the author of the article needs to do is look beyond her cynicism and look at the brighter side of things, accept certain customs and traditions. Some things (like Diwali) just won't change. You might as well enjoy them. You'll make memories.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Fly Little Wing

My favourite band is The Corrs. I was introduced to this band by a video on YouTube. It was a video of a little Korean (I think) girl singing Summer Sunshine so cutely while travelling by car. (Sadly, the video no longer exists) I instantly fell in love with the song and browsed the lyrics and got the song. A few months later, I was looking for some soft music on the internet when I came across a song sung by a woman. The music was the most melodious and harmonious I'd ever heard. It was freely available for download and I did. A few days later when I browsed the lyrics of the song, I found that this song was sung by The Corrs too. The song was "Runaway". The song I had downloaded wasn't the original but by some party singer. Slowly, I listened to all their their songs one after the other, each one just as good as the other. And now, three years later they're my favourite and THE BEST contemporary band I've known. I'd compare them to ABBA, all of whose songs I love.

It was only recently that I watched their interviews on YouTube. And boy was I impressed. Just like every favourite artiste of mine, they're so down-to-earth and humble. They speak of their success and fame as not really a big deal, as if it was a natural thing that happened to everybody every day. They said they made music because they loved it and that they were only fortunate that people loved their music and made them successful. They didn't make music with the aim of becoming huge pop stars one day, and that struck me. I love it when people do things just out of sheer love for it. Of course, people who make such wonderful music must be wonderful at heart as well which makes The Corrs even more endearing.

I recently went through my old files, files created over a year ago. They were mostly artwork, ringtones, recorded songs, attempts at stories and poems, postcards sent and received pictures of drawings in the corners of my class notebooks. I was surprised at all the things I'd done while in the hostel. I wouldn't do half of what I did then, now. And that's only because now, I feel pressured to create artwork to impress people, my teachers, my peers, my classmates. I want them to say it's good. And that has made me extremely conscious and over-critical of myself. That is turning out to be my biggest hindrance in completing animation assignments. It was so much better when I didn't have a deadline, didn't have expectations to cater to, did art because I loved it, when I did it for me, for the love of it, without having to care what somebody else thought of it. It's different now, and I despise it. I'm starting to doubt my ability to survive the animation industry when I have such difficulty in completing assignments. At the risk of sounding cliched, art is an expression of the soul. You can't keep me at gun point and make me do it.

Another reason for the apparent lack of interest in animation, is that I've found a new love interest. World history. And International Affairs. (Ha. What did you think?) I find myself desperately and frantically reading articles on history and international affairs (politics for now, but I want to read up on trade too) (Ironically, this was the part I hated the most during school.) All this reading and documentary watching on YouTube leaves little time for anything else. And by anything else, I mean lunch and dinner too. Yeah. It's that bad. And that's affecting my preparation for CAT too. I can no longer remember the 18s table.

So basically, after all this while, I still have no idea what I want to do in life. What is it that I'm really interested in, love doing, that would fetch me a decent salary? The MBA decision is only because there was no way I would spend the rest of my life coding and thinking about programming languages. I read that MBA is for people looking for a change of field. If there is another option, I'd be glad if you could let me know.