Monday, August 15, 2005

Amma and I are back. And I am happy and joyful. Must say I have missed her, and the time i went to Coimbatore to meet her, three days, out of which I am sure I would slept at least 40 hours. For once, I didnt have any deadlines. Nothing to worry about. And I could sleep without the fear that something was hanging just above my head. Not that I am complaining. I like being busy.Great weather, great just lolling around doing nothing. But I cant do that for long though!!
We went to Shivanjali at Coimbatore, to visit the Samadhi of Swami Shantanand Saraswati. He was our Guru. He passed away on the 27th of June. And I was asked to sing, and I sang one of his Bhajans. He was a divine singer. I guess I will miss him, though the past few years we have not had much contact with him.

Anyway, point is it is great to have amma back and I also missed Aditi for these three days.. :)
I had been camping at Aditi's place when amma was not there.

As long as my laptop is concerned, I have been advised to buy it in India, because a friend of our's has two laptops that have gone waste because she could not find the persons to service it. So me again in a dilemma. And also some questions about why do I need the Powerbook? Why not something else? Since I am not going to be some high end designer. But I am going to working with sound and audio files. So I guess I am back to Square 1.

I also went to Vasudha aunty's school and saw her Independence Day celebrations. Jayam Ravi had come to be the Chief Guest. I was also formally introduced to him today though we have known of each other.

And finally two cents about Independence Day. I think we are God damn lucky to have this freedom. Thanks to all this freedom, we have collectively made India to be known as a a poor country. We are responsible if it is over populated, and if any thing is wrong with the present politics and if the place around is polluted and dirty. Maybe high time we did something about all that. As my friend Manoj wrote in one of his earlier blogs, that if we came together, spent some money to make the street we live in look in cleaner.... and imagine if everyone started doing that, India would be a great place to look at in no time. And of course a lot more has to be cleaned out. Though the foreign influence have supposedly left us 58 years ago, the Generation Now is under a totally different and sometimes alarming way of western thinking and views. Though I agree and admit that the Americans have definitely given a lot of positive things to the world, it is also responsible for more of our elders living in old age homes, marriages breaking, more and more people, youngsters especially indulging in illicit sexual relationships, our core cultures lost, and a lot of our art dying.... a lot more but these are top most on my mind. Right now. We have not learnt their civic sense, while we have eagerly embraced the openness to sexuality. Most westerners are turning extremely strict vegetarians, and we turn the other way round.

Its upto us, to make our country better as much as we can. And over time, I have come to realise, that 1 is a very strong and a powerful number.

And that one person can make a huge difference.
Jai Hind!

56 comments:

Ilaiy said...

Nice post .. But we would need better politicians without any kind of corruption .. to make India a better place..


./thanks
ilaiy
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http://ilaiy.blogspot.com
http://howiwishihad.blogspot.com/
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Kirubakaran said...

Totally agree with you on making India a better place. We shouldn't waste time talking how great we were... We have done enough finger-pointing... We lost the Kohinoor (the diamond :)) to the Brits, not our spirit, right? :)

A disagreement on the American culture though. I don't agree that Americans are what we perceive them to be. I would say that an average American spends more time with the family than an average Indian of today. They are not what MTV and Hollywood want us to believe. Our 'yo-yo' guys are more 'westernized' in a bad way than the actual Americans. Just my humble opinion.

I agree with you over and over again that we are totally responsible for what India is and what India is going to be.

Arvind said...

A very thoughtful post ! and hope to see you back at your blogging best ;)

IBH said...

beautifully written on embracing the openess of sexuality and nothing other than that! have been wanting to post for a while about this! living in US now has made me realise that what I had known a westerner to be is just out of those opulent out-of-the-world hollywood versions but the real westerner is very close to what we are all about in India!

Jai Hind!

Ganesh said...

Good to have you and your mom.
Happy Independence Day!!

And have to agree with Kirubakaran on American thing, the role have been reversed with more americans appreciating family values etc while in India gen X seems to be going the opposite way :(

Barath said...

Good to know abt ur mom!...

would love to hear those songs in audio blog!

Jai hind!

Manoj said...

Though I agree and admit that the Americans have definitely given a lot of positive things to the world, it is also responsible for more of our elders living in old age homes, marriages breaking, more and more people, youngsters especially indulging in illicit sexual relationships, our core cultures lost, and a lot of our art dying.... a lot more but these are top most on my mind.

What nonsense. Have you lived in America? You opinion is just a superficial one got by watching movies or by reading hollywood news.

1. Have you read the Mahabharata? How many illicit sexual relationships are there in that? Was America present at that time
2. Do you know how Chanakya died? - You don't even know your own history and you blame America
3. Marriages are breaking up due to America? What do you smoke these days?

Chinmayi said...

Well Manoj,
some outburst that. :)
I guess I dont want to respnd to that. Time will even out everything.
And yes I know my history In and Out. Quiz me on anything of Indian Epics and Puranas... Thats one thing I dont want to be and will never be modest about!

Surya said...

Chinmayi,

Admirable sense of balance and perspective in reacting to Manoj. I guess Manoj was explaining the same thing as previous comments...but in his own style -:)

The bottom line is Civic Sense. I have lived 28 years in India and past 5 years in the US. What we need is 'to care'. We Indians consider it common sense to 'accept' the crap we see and not fight the system. I guess due to the population or otherwise, we just lack the basic sense of dignity of another human being. Which is interesting because...when we look within the family structure, our sense of respect and adherence to values is amazing. Yet, the moment we step out of the house, we loose all of it.

There are tons of thoughts in this area...but I guess we (I) are/am culprit for brooding over these topics endlessly while not 'doing' much.

Manoj said...

What I don't understand is this. Americans did not come and hold a gun against our head and say "have illicit sexual relations", or " divorce your wife". We *chose* to do so. Indians get to watch all cultures around the world and they chose to follow this one. So who is to be blamed?

Who was the father of Karna? Who are the fathers of the Pandavas? Weren't they born out of illicit sexual relationships? Didn't Lord Rama ditch his wife and kids after listening to an off the cuff remark? Was that all due to American influence. What about the animal sex depicted in Kamasutra? Was that American influence?.

America came into existence only about 300 odd years back. So you mean to say all the evils you mentioned was not there before. So why didn't you write, Britain or Australia or France or any other country is to be blamed for all this. Why didn't you write the "Western Culture" is to be blamed for this? Why are you picking just on America?

You are just an anti-American, nothing more.

Kirubakaran said...

I understand that it would be out of my place to respond to Manoj's comment. I am still going ahead coz I have a couple of points that I would like to express. Chinmayi, please delete my comment if it is going to start a flame war. Everyone, please understand that I am not trying to act as a smart-ass - coz I know I am not :)

Manoj, please understand that Chinmayi and you are both expressing the same point but only in a little different perspectives.

Chinmayi is only saying that whatver we seem to have adopted from the American culture is bad. She is not saying that American culture per se is bad.

Manoj, I think, is upset that the seemingly bad things about American culture are highlighted whereas it is entirely our mistake to adopt those things in the first place. There are several other good things to adopt. I would like to mention here 'Fountainhead' and 'Atlas Shrugged' by Ayn Rand.

Well, my opinion is that there would be no need for Remos if Nandhinis prefer Ambis :-))

Anonymous said...

Well, this independence day discussion has made a lot of turns!
As somebody who has lived in the US for a couple of years I'll put in my two cents.
The perception about the american life, by Indians is mislead mostly by media.
Majority of the Americans are honest people who lead a honest life.
The things that we hear about divorce rates, sexual relationships, elders living in old age homes..they are mostly a myth.
India has doubled its populations in about three decades. the population didnt get doubled because our fathers were Saints!!
Where do you think AIDS is spreading faster? well, even with the open sexuality it isnt that bad in the US. why is that?
I wonder how even today our movies predict that the worst way to punish a rapist is getting him married to the girl he raped!!
The children are abused in most homes, mostly by parents. We categorise that as family issues!!!!!! We hardly protect our children.
The biggest issue of our culture is the hypocrisy it promotes. What are we really going to do about that?

Jello said...

Well said, Manoj! I live in the US, am a US citizen, and I can tell you that not all is well with the US. But to put the blame on the US for the ills in India is pure ignorance! At the least it is demeaning to Indians to say that their behavior is controlled by the US. It is like saying Indians have no mind of their own!

-Jello

Ram said...

Chinmayi and Everyone else,

It would not be fair to blame any one country for what is happenning in ours. There is so many forces at play here. If America would influence us to such a great degree, then we would be a different nation.

Our strength is our individuality. Marriages are breaking because the social climate is changing. Illicit sex is simply because of people getting out of control and that is just them.. it is not something that people can teach you to do. It is a psychotic act of desperation. People are living in old age homes because of situations described in Visu movies rather than the Americans.

We as ourselves, should take responsibility for our actions and move forward with a resolve that we will do what we and our minds and our hearts think is correct, rather than just because the US is doing it or the UK is doing it. That would be childish and I think India is capable of more than just that, being one of the richest and the best embellished in tradition.

We need look nowhere else to be taught the best values. Both the best and the worst examples are right besides us...

Cogito said...

The value of freedom is immeasurable.We will realize its value only if we don't have it !

Chinmayi said...

Nice I kindled some thoughts! I think I have said 'western' a couple of times. I am not an anti-american. What I was saying is that when we are definitely influenced by lot of things that are western, why not take their civic sense for example? When someone can be disciplined in Singapore,(I know Singapore is Asia, I have brought this country up for want of a simile....:) ) wont litter, wont chew gum or whatever else, how is that when Indians living there dont want to bring the same discipline down here?

Western thinking is generally individualistic according to my view. And it has bordered a lot unto selfishness. And who is going to tell the average teenager that the West or 'America' is not how 'Friends' portrays it to be?

Generally too much of a good thing, not knowing where to draw the line.

And I think no use blaming the politics alone. A country is made of its people, not of politics or politicians. Politics happen even in a normal house. What we lack is basic discipline and self organisation.

And maybe it is high time we brought that about. Into our lives, our families and into our country as a whole.

Gangadhar said...

Nice post,Chinmayi...Thoughtful!!
Btw Happy Independence day..
JaiHind!!!

Padmasani said...

This is some Independence day man! All of you have brought out a lot of points to the fore. It is true that an average man in any country is honest and faithful to his family. He does not cause concern at all. What causes concern is the abnormality and if the growing rate of it is high. Any person tends to probe the cause effect theory and certainly there are certain pointers to any and every problem.

All of you who have discussed the above points are young. None of you apparently are parents of grown up children. Have you known the number of families who have moved back to India at the cost of a very very lucrative career just because the interests of their children, especially girl children valued more to them ? Manoj, Chinmayi has been a close observer of such families who are incidentally my friends. The fact that we have not lived in America is evident. The media depiction or the picture from my friends who have made it back to base or the observations that we had from the western students I had for learning music, could be the only source for forming certain impressions.

However it is nice that we know definite picture of a positive side of a country or countries. This discussion has at least led to know about a normal life in America in Manoj or Jello's perspectives.

This blog has definitely kindled a compelling need for a thought for better India. But unfortunately all of you who have responded are all living abroad. The normal Indian is passive still. No response!!!

Jeevan said...

Happy Independence Day Chinmayi. Youth should control the country then only our country will be good.

Sneha Acharya said...

Hey Chinmayee .. u been to CBT .. good to hear that. I mite go this weekend. Swamiji is a Divine Singer .. yes guess that would be THE appropriate word to explain about his singing. I learnt each and every slokam and devotional song only from him. and when i try learning from others i have never gotten it .. ofcourse one person is there ... my Mom :-)

Good to know that ur Mom is also back to nrml life. All the best to both of u.

Peanut said...

Jimmu,
Singapore is very different from India in that aspect, but the extent of disipline there is disturbing, and I know that I for one, would much rather live in India than there for that reason alone. You do know that in singapore, all crows are shot dead because their droppings make the place look unclean...and its not that the people "don't" chew gum...chewing gum is illegal in singapore...

One of the things I love and respect most about India is the amount of freedom given to its citizens. As much as america claims to be the 'land of the free', social stigmas there are much more overpowering than they are here. In india, you can truely be yourself, and that is a HUGE deal...
(and yes, manoj, before another outburst...i've lived in america ) :D

nice post...
and HAPPY INDEPENDENCE DAY!!!!!!

Chinmayi said...

Yes sis dearest, I know about the crows being shot.. and I was pretty sure that chewing gum was illegal.. But I wanted to be super sure before posting about 'illegal' actions in another country. Which I was not. So I let it hang.

And maybe I missed to add something here.. Almost 90% of my cousins and family live abroad. Most of them in the US. So most of what I wrote was a collection of all their thoughts too. And not to mention, as amma said, our friends!

Vijay said...

A few random points/comments:

1. Manoj, have some restraint man. (Are you the same guy who runs minorscale.net?) You could express your disagreement certainly in a milder way, lest you think using words like "nonsense", "crap" etc, makes you sound cool and hip :-)

2. Everyone is right(or wrong) from what I have read. Every culture has its own positives and negatives. India for all its rich cultural heritage is also the land where sati was practiced and dowry deaths are still common. Its upto ourselves to change all that

3. The western influence that Chinmayi talking abour right now is a smaller issue, as those who are influenced are a small segment of the urban young generation watching MTV/Star channels and so on. Bigger portion of the crowd lives in the villages and towns. Thats where most of the focus should be.

4. I disagree with Kirubakaran that an average American cares about his family more than in India and he is also more honest. This is a sweeping generalization and I wouldnt accept it without proof. If Fathers' day and Mother's day celebrations in US are any indications , it looks like they need such days to remind themselves of their parents who are probably toiling by themselves far away or are in an old age home. In India many festivals/religious ocaasions/marriages/birthdays all provide ample opportunities to get together with relatives and those are our Mothers/fathers/cousins/whoever's days. We dont need special calendar days to send greeting cards.Our Raksha bandhan is our Brothers/sisters day, for instance.

We just need to borrow the best of what other cultures from ohter states offer. India is a congregation of several small countries with diverse cultures and a lot to choose from and adopt. Our Pongal is our Thanksgiving day. If you want to celebrate something like Brothers' day, look to the North where they celebrate raksha bandhan, why do you have to ape the west and send fake greeting cards? Why not look to adopt good things from Bengalis or Maharashtrians or elsewhere? We are to blame here for any "Western influence "not the West. Same with the hypocritical Valentine's day, something that was promoted by makers of Greeting cards! and which has caught in Chennai and Bangalore and other urban centers.

And I have lived close to a decade here in US. I am not taking sides here, but just bringing in a sdifferent perspective to the sweeping generalization made by Kruba. I have observed and interacted with a hell of lot of Americans too.There are "good" and "bad" things in both societies. Morals themselves, are subjective. Lets rememeber this before pointing fingers at each other.

5. Regarding high divorce rates in US- two ways to look at it. A sign of woman's freedom here in US as against India where women(and men) bear abuse sometimes silently for fear of society and divorces are sometimes financially/socially unacceptable, which is kind of sad. Or- An obvious sign of all's not well with marriages in US. If everything was well there shouldnt even be a high divorce rate in the first place, isnt it?

Dating(and everything else) before marriage-once again depending on the person's outlook/cultural background/upbringing opinions on this may vary. Prostitution has been legalized in many countries
and many consider it perfectly moral.So these are instances where nothing is blackk or white.


6. People who have lived in US for a few years and have been a little, shall I say"americanized" themselves might tend to look at things differently. There's a big cultural difference at play here. So we'll have to keep that in mind before accusing each other.

Chinmayi, for someone of your age you have shown far more maturity in handling the situation here.from you.

Manoj said...

OK, let me try one more time before I fall asleep from "sky is blue" statements like "Everyone is right(or wrong) from what I have read. Every culture has its own positives and negatives".

Here is what was written
"Though I agree and admit that the Americans have definitely given a lot of positive things to the world, it is also responsible for more of our elders living in old age homes, marriages breaking, more and more people, youngsters especially indulging in illicit sexual relationships, our core cultures lost, and a lot of our art dying.... a lot more but these are top most on my mind."

The point Chinmayi is making is this - America is responsible for marriages breaking up in India. My question is - How?

Americans may divorce their spouses, send parents to old age homes, wear the national flag as underwear etc. But if any Indian choses to follow it in India, America is not responsible for it. The person who chose to do it, is responsible, a subtle point.

Kirubakaran said...

Kirubakaran

I am not a Valentine day card guy :-)))) LOL
I am not Americanized and I will never be.

Vijay: "I disagree with Kirubakaran that an average American cares about his family more than in India and he is also more honest."

I never said any of that! I said "American spends more time with the family than an average Indian of today"

Americans refuse to work beyond their official working hours and spend time with their family.

Anyways, my point is lost in all the heated discussions.

I didn't say anything remotely offensive to anyone. At least I hoped so...

For a change, why don't someone comment on my statement:
Well, my opinion is that there would be no need for Remos if Nandhinis prefer Ambis :-))

That will be a fun discussion! :-D

Ajith said...

Vijay, stop rambling! If you don't have a clear point, it is best to keep your mouth shut.

Your intention appears to be just to cheaply please "someone".

Just numbering your sentences don't mean that you actually have so many points.

"There are good and bad things in both societies"... are you talking to 3 year olds here?

Don't take your 'holier than thou' attitude. All you seem to want is some favor from the people you are trying to please...

Chinmayi said several good points. You are only making her position weaker by shouting senseless things.

Padmasani said...

Now peace my dear gentlemen. The net result of the whole blogpost is that all of you are loudly thinking about a sad situation. Justice, moral,ethics, values,rights or wrongs, good or bad as rightly said by vijay is purely subjective controlled by the timing and the situation.

This is making me clearer on one thing that when you are young many who go to US are fanatically attched to the country. You know why? The everyday life is made very comfortable- hasle free. So when you come back even on a holiday you are not able to adjust to the difficult Indian everyday life.

Small plus points added up to huge happiness hide the major drawbacks. When you grow older the other side starts revealing and hurting you too.
Any way let us put a fullstop here to this topic.

The topic must be understood in a positive way as to how an average Indian should draw resourses and inspiration from the positive side of any country or culture and not for slinging fire balls.

I dont think Vijay is pleasing us. He has exactly narrated thing as we have heard from hundreds of our friends over the years.

For now let us whole heartedly say Jai Hind and Jai America too.

Padmasani said...

Manoj dont take it to heart. After all we share the same roots. Your points are well taken; forget this post and you dont have to forcefully change your ideas. You have in the outpour raked some vital points which have remained cliches all through the different yugas. Some are understood as you grow old and some are completely out of comprehension even after your growing old. No established religion or culture is an exception to this grey areas. So for now be cheerful mydear boy and let us all be friends that matters most

Manoj said...

padmasani,

I asked one simple question and I get lot of unrelated cliched stuff back as a lecture. for example, "This is making me clearer on one thing that when you are young many who go to US are fanatically attched to the country". - again how?

I asked the question not because I am attached to America, but because I could not understand the relation between America and divorces in India.

I know I won't get a direct answer, so I am out of here.

vijay said...

"Americans refuse to work beyond their official working hours and spend time with their family. "

Kirubakaran, Americans are right at the top(No.1 or 2 behind Japan) when it comes to working the longest hours amongst industrialized nations. Work-releated stress is a big thing here. Europe is much more laid back when it comes to workculture. 28 days off a year and 35-40hr work weeks there, can you believe that?:-)



Ajith, am not trying to please anyone here. In fact, if you had even bothered to read my comments closely, I have disagreed with Chinmayee on Indians being influenced by "bad things" from America. Try to be civil and learn to read before you jump in with nothing to contribute other than telling off someone else.


"I asked one simple question and I get lot of unrelated cliched stuff back as a lecture"

manoj, its the way you chose to frame your question that bothered some of us and thats what I have mentioned in my comments.You could have put it across mildly.I hope you got that. Next,your question itself is valid and I have agreed with you in my previous comments(unfortunately like Ajith you seem to have missed it too) that no one can be forcibly influenced by so-called bad things from West.

Padmasani, thanks for being one of the few to actually read what I wrote.

some body said...

did someone mention chanakya? :-) here is some excellent excellent reading.

http://www.hinduism.co.za/chanakya.htm

especially the chapters on nitishastra are really a good read.

ciao,
ess bee

Surya said...

Its interesting to see the string of comments. On one side it shows various perspectives...but on the other side shows how 'serious' blogging can get and also dont understand why we have to be so critical in the blog...when it is supposed to be personal thoughts of somebody and not newspaper items. While a healthy debate is always good so that the blogger and readers can get other view points....taking this to extreme will only stifle the free flow of thoughts.

padmasani said...

Surya YOU summed it up man! :)

Anonymous said...

"taking this to extreme will only stifle the free flow of thoughts"

ROTFL. You really are an Albert Einstein. Debating an issue will stifle free flow of thoughts!!!!. So let's all live like Communists.

Surya, In this planet, when you blog publicly and enable comments on that blog, issues are open for discussion. When you say comments, it all need not be appreciating chinmayi's "maturity"!

vijay said...

" When you say comments, it all need not be appreciating chinmayi's "maturity"!"

Mr. anonymous, disagreement can be expressed in a dignified manner. No need to throw words like "nonsense", "crap" etc. or asking the other person to "shut up" to express diagreement. Now that doesnt reflect well on your maturity, does it?

Surya said...

Dear Anonymous,

I did not mean and dont intend to mean that we should not have free flow of thoughts and disagreements. I am just saying that we should not make it 'hot' and go personal so as to hurt the blogger and also poison the healthy discussion. I surely think that the blogger will also appreciate or should appreciate if anybody disagrees 100% to what he/she says and exchange views that is enriching to the blogger and other readers. I just observed that if we make comments hitting the person (not just here) but in general. I was also reacting to my observation as it would pertain to me when I blog (not yet started..but intend to). In the end, I guess we have to be ready for anything thrown at us...and be ready to just delete or ignore some voices (or not get affected by them).

Ok..this is a long explanation..but it was also for me to understand the positives and perils of this medium of expression.

Padmasani said...

Surya and Vijay just forget this post here. If Chinmayi enjoys your support and compassion while disagreeing her observations she should also take the harsh comments also passively. Anyway all of us learn something at the end.

Jello said...

As we pursue happiness in life, we are faced with choices. Life is full of choices and we make them everyday whether knowingly or not. Some we take easily, some after much agony. But having choices is a good thing in life. It is what brings diversity in life, and what makes life interesting and worth living. Whether you make the "right" choice is dependent on the values you have and your circumstances. But you should take responsibility for the choice you make, and not blame somebody else.

Divorce is a choice. It is not an easy choice to make (much like abortion), because of repurcussions it leaves behind. But when things go wrong you want to have the choice. In fact, it may even save lives.

Long time ago, my cousin got into a bad marriage, and was driven to take her own life eventually. Had divorce been in vougue then, she might have opted for it, and her kids might have had a mom to grow up with. She didn't have a choice, or at least she must have thought so.

-Jello

Manoj said...

Just for the record, I, MinorScale Manoj, am not he, Pissed Off Manoj. If I thought I was smart enough to share an opinion on such a sensitive issue I'd do it, but alas! an unique brain condition lets me get worked up only when I listen to bad music. In fact, I'm so stupid I found myself changing my opinion a dozen times as I went through every one of the comments above. As of now, I stand at this conclusion - "America is responsible for my recent hair loss, the dent in my car, my Mom threatening to disown me because of all the weight I've gained, me having to resort to making Chennai auto-drivers my friends, the mole above my left lip...and finally, making it seem like every angry Manoj on the WWW is the one who runs minorscale.net."

Jai Hind!

PS: aduththa audioblog eppo?

Jello said...

Please, stop saying Jai Hind. Are you trying to say your are patriotic? It's as ridiculous as seeing Americans vigorously waving their flags, made in China, of course.

Come out of your middle-class shell and its problems, and take a good look around you. Do you see anything that makes you think India has a long way to go? Does it stay in your mind, or do you forget about it when the next billboard catches your fancy?

Could you do something about what you see? Could you volunteer your time? Could you organize? Could you take action?

I know of people in India, who do all that (my brother-in-law, for one, who is a medical doctor) and not say Jai Hind even once. They are the true patriots, not the people who blog their Jai Hind's away.

Now, there. May be that was what was bothering me in the first place.

-Jello

Chinmayi said...

Hey Jello,
what does this mean? i didnt get it actually :)
Do you see anything that makes you think India has a long way to go? Does it stay in your mind, or do you forget about it when the next billboard catches your fancy?

Jello said...

Poverty, disease, child labor, illiteracy, lack of basic healthcare, destruction of public property, thuggery, gangs, drugs, pollution, ...

Take your pick.

It's a tragedy how everyday familiarity makes one become used to these evils. Every time I land in India, I enter into a shock to see it all, and by the time I leave, I am shamefully used to ignoring them.

Why do we become inert? What does it take for us to make a small beginning, plant a seed of change?

-Jello

Surya said...

Jello,

A small beginning could be you staying back in India and do your bit to plant the seed. As you, many of us are the culprits...we are both inert about what happens in India and overt in what we pursue for our happiness.

Surya
(One of those who escaped from India).

Chinmayi said...

Hey Manoj@Minorscale.. Thanks for clearing it up.... Actually I was wondering whether he is you, cos there was no forwarding link.. and your comment is a good laugh..

I had to stop leaving comments after a while, because ... I generally meant the west.. I mentioned that also .. and I also mentioned taking too much of a good thing beyound limits.. And let me tell you I think divorce is a good thing.. or anything for that matter is good, as long as it is not misused. Mistake was I just mentioned 'America', because earlier that day there was a heated discussion about what is going wrong, the contents of which I have decided I shall not disclose, and though I could, I didnt want to go back and edit the america word, just to see what I would get.. and I think I can make slips too ... I can post a blog before editing it..

Well now I know. And I also have learnt better in taking the bouquets and brickbats. Thankfully.

Manoj has been upset with my writing, but its ok.. to each his own..!

and I think Indians are the most informed of people about the world around.. an average school goer, in many countries abroad does not know where India is... Not forgetting questions like why we "have the red dot on our forehead".. "ohhh..... ethnic clothes". And this is from experience..

We are one of the most intelligent..have a great culture to boast of which not many have, well we are damn rich.. there is nothing that India cannot offer ... and its high time we make our country better..and take the call.. generally me hyper patriotic. And given the choice I would never settle anywhere else. Dont think can get myself to leave my soil totally...

And I hope that sums up.

Jello said...

Good point, Surya. Before I explain why I am NOT going to go back to India, let me digress a little and talk about why some go back to India, and some don't. It's important, I think, to talk about it because a few have some misconceptions about it.

Most of the people go back for some of the following reasons: family roots, loss of job, bringing up kids in the native culture, old/sick parents, only child, better job oppurtunities, job transfer, better schools, and in some cases inability to adapt to a different culture. There are other reasons, of course. Once they go back, some settle down in gated communities to recreate their land of departure, and the rest settle down under normal middle-class conditions. Some have regrets going back, some don't.

A few go back because they want to give back to India in some ways for what they took from it.

People who stay behind do so for the following reasons: better higher education, better oppurtunities, more cultural freedom, less age/sex discrimination, children born here, better daily comforts, etc. Some have regrets staying back, and some don't.

In my case, I came here for higher education, got a job I couldn't have in India, met my future wife in school, married, settled down, had kids. Now that I think about, I have spent as much of my life here as in India. For me now, the US has become my home, India foreign. Frankly I don't feel at home in India any more. I visit India to see our parents and siblings, and for sightseeing. I have no regrets for having left India. When I think back, I owe as much to the US for the oppurtunities it provided for me and my wife, as we owe India for the education we got there. We owe a lot more to our parents, of course, than to the country.

So how do we give back to India? We send money to the charity projects we like, we support the NGOs when disaster strikes, we come to the aid of Indian govt when the need arises (buy Indian Govt bonds, send letters to US senators in support of India), and we support my brother-in-law's foundation. All our charity money now goes to India. From what I see and read in the newspapers, there are other countries (Niger in Africa, for example) where the needs are dire and urgent, and thousands die every day. But for now, we are sticking to India. And we are happy with the choice we have made.

How do people who go back contribute to India? Except for a few, most settle down and lead normal lives. Some may start business of their own and generate jobs, but most take jobs away from other Indians. They will protect their lives' savings for themselves and their children to lead a lifestyle they have chosen to live. I am not saying what they do is wrong, but what I question is the notion that we help India by going back, and don't help by staying out. Sometimes, you can do more from outside than from inside.

How do I think the changes in India should happen? I strongly believe they should come from inside. MK Gandhi was able to do it because there was a clear target for protest (British) and a unhappy citizenry under subjugation. What we have today is a free country, and in many ways prosperous and emerging economic power; but what holds the country back is an apathetic public that mostly complains about what it sees, yet satisfied with the staus quo. So the new generation should take it upon themselves to start the process of change a little at a time at the local levels. The education of children should include a sense of civic sense and duty. The young generation should challenge the older ones about the old ways of doing business. And nobody shoulld pay attention to politicians when they try to whip up communal tensions for politial purpose, leading to loss of life and public property. By standing up against violence in the name of politics, religion, caste, etc. By talking with friends and colleagues openly about serious issues. Talk about how to solve the problems at hand and not point the finger at others for causing them. By taking personal responsibility for one's actions. In thousand other ways, a little here and a little there. It is not going to happen all at once. But given a determined set of motivated individuals, who don't give up under hardships or setbacks, the changes will come. Once they start coming, they gain a momentum of their own and there is no stopping them.

-Jello

Padmasani said...

Hi this is chins mom. Surya what you say is true. About a small beginning. We have been working on that in our own small way for about four-five years. Nice to hear it from you.The practical compulsions of life and the typical Indian complications make Jello justified.

Jello, nothing could be more beautiful than what you have written. Wonderful!
So complete and so comprehensive.

Chinmayi I request you to stop the comments here. After Surya and Jello nothing should be allowed in this column as nothing could be as wonderful as these two comments. As concluding comments they are crowns.

Jello said...

Thank you for your kind words.

-Jello

Surya said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Jello said...

Sorry to open it up again, but since this is not officially closed yet, I wanted to squeeze in a news item on the BBC web site. It is related to a topic that was raised here:

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4181574.stm

It says: "Every six hours in India, a young married woman is burned alive, beaten to death or driven to commit suicide."

Probably a ho-hum news for people in India. For outsiders, it is shocking.

So much for the choices available to today's Indian woman.

-Jello

Chinmayi said...

Jello: I guess abroad, in any country, we can find an equal number if not more atrocities are committed against women anywhere.. it need not be that they are burnt.. what about the atrocities committed to ethnic groups? What about islamic countries? Havent we heard enough?? If I am not mistaken, I think Sisters of Arabia, or Daughters of Arabia, i am not sure of the title, talks about lots happening in Islamic countries. Not only a young married woman in India, I think every woman in the world runs the risk of Physical Mental and Emotional torture.

Jello said...

Yes, I can't agree with you more about what happens elsewhere.

Here in the US, equally mindless things happen we well. Take gun ownership, for instance. Every year many children die because their parents didn't store their loaded guns away properly. A kid would pick up a gun, and play with it, and accidentally shoot himself, a playmate, or even a brother or sister. Rightfully in this respect, every other nation looks at the US like they are a stupid, gun-toting cowboy nation.

Domestic violence is just as bad. I have heard of wives getting restraining orders against husbands, and pleading for help from police when the husbands threaten them, police keeping away because it's a domestic dispute, and some wives getting killed in the process.

Sure, crazy things happen all over the world, and we are right to be shocked by them.

But I thought the discussion here is what is wrong with India and how to fix it, not what's wrong with the world.

Smaller focus, better results.

-Jello

Chinmayi said...

Jello: Its not prevalent only in India. If dowry deaths and wife burnign in India is shocking so are the others.. smaller focus : plant mroe trees, keep your neighborhood clean, dont litter, keep a small waste bin in your car, (if you are in the habit of whooshing stuff out of the window), dont spit, the roads are not a public urinal, conserve paper, conserve electricity, use solar power... a lot like that. Then THAT would be something.

Jello said...

Chinmayi,

That is a good list to start with.

I am frankly disappointed by the lack of dialog I was expecting on this topic.

What I find discouraging is that people who were quick to heap you with praise for what you originally posted, fell silent once the discussion started to turn serious. There seem to be more people who ask you about how your mom is doing than who are willing to discuss how India is doing.

I came across a quote from the Indian historian Ramachandra Guha at another blog: “It was mistaken then (in 1947 when India got independence) to see India as swiftly going down the tube; and, it is mistaken now to see it as soon taking its place among the elect of the earth; India will merrily muddle along in the middle, as it has always been.”

Whether or not you agree with his prediction, merrily muddle is not what India should be doing....

Wish you good luck, and farewell.

-Jello

Surya said...

Hi Jello,

This is a topic that has been extensively discussed in one way or other...in the minds of many of us or among freinds.

In the end, it boils down to doing something. Now, doing something is one thing...but doing enough is another thing. Just like how the bad forces in this world are so vocal and powerful, the good forces should also be vocal and powerful. Inherently people who do good are not aggressive....and may be that is what needs to change and then do it.

I know the dilemmas...and attachment...but really, if I really really care about India...I should immediately sell my car and stuff and pick up the next flight to India. One might say...what can you do?...but that is the point. We have to do...do it without giving up and doing it aggressively.

Only then can real change come. We always blame politicians...yet none of us want to enter politics. I sometimes think that its one of the highest form of a career one can take...being a politician...as it involves enabling the lives of millions. However, we just see the filth in the process and shy away. Unless we really really want change...and go and be politicians..and even cheat for some time in the process of getting some power so that we can then do some good.....the country will be what it is.

I think that the increasing wealth and enterprise in India will slowly help in change. Yes, the disparity becomes higher...but once people have power..be it in the form of wealth...then they will start to see the stakes go higher.

Anyway, I digressed a bit in the end. All I wanted to say that the lack of dialogue is due to the fact that dialogue leads us nowhere...and we just have to act. If we dont have the courage to act...then there is no point having the dialog.

My 2 cents.

Sorry for posting this ..I wanted to avoid as it was suggested we stop the blog..but I just felt like replying to Jello's sense of apathy on apathy of his comrades.

pavi said...

I can tell U that How I landed up in ur blog ( By a thread about dataone connection from there to google talk to ur blog)
My comments may be loathsome but I wish to comment. U have said that american culture had made us all spoil ourselves.Do u tell its allways american influence . Why should u go and watch HBO or Star movies when there are good movie channels in India which potray Indianculture. The way media has influenced the country matters as ts they who invented the technology so they have the righ to propogate what they want. regarding old age homes people are not so dumb brained not to know how to take care of their parents. Why do u say its american influence? u are right that people get influenced.
But its all due to western medias success .. do u know times of india is owned my a (non indian) and even deccan chronicle has some shares of foriegners . they spread these ideas. Why we indians dont have a cartoon channel for kids. I see kids watching Nick leave CN
Nick is horribly american. And kids are learning american culture right from 4th class!
It doesent matter whether u are a vegetarian or non vegetarian(Though it affects many brahmin sentiments) cause A tiger depends on deer for its survival similarly a Human depends on rice,vegetables + meat for his survival. Hey sorry I am writing a story but it came just like that from Heart
I guess u wanna reply
My blog is Pavi world U may comment anything thre . bye

Chinmayi said...

Being a Vegetarian or a non vegetarian has nothing to do with a Brahman sentiment. It is my sentiment. You know, when I was in school, I had to pass through this main road, where there was a butchery.And every time these hens or whatever they are, and goat... I and those travelling with me used to hear the death wail of those things.. and we used to feel miserable.. some of us cried on the way each time. Its my sentiment. And these are my views. I am not saying someone should follow it. The very reason I put it up was because I was willing to face the onslaught.

Sometimes I wonder what if we were the prey for someone else? Maneka Gandhi is not Brahman. But I think she has been spear heading PETA and trying to bring in vegetarianism. Out of sheer understanding for fellow beings. And yes there is the question of ecological balance. Someone eats lamb, some eat chicken, ... Though I have shared the table with many and I really dont feeel anything then just to make the others feel comfortable.. I really dont understand why vegetarianism must always be associated with being brahman. As far as I know most brahmans nowadays are non vegetarians.. and it has been said time and again that in the environs and the climes that we live in, as in Indians, we dont need Non Vegetarian food to survive. This is research that has been conducted.. though I dont know the exact details off hand.

Regarding influence, yes.. I was trying to imply why be influenced by wrong things? I am against most cartoons. Take Tom and Jerry for example... whats the whole idea of instilling violence so early..?? Kids are glued to the TV and they laugh at Jerry being banged with a saucepan on its head and likewise to Tom. And this desensitizes a lot of feelings that should happen when violence happens even among peers. The first instinct is to laugh. And even these cartoons are political.. I dont want to expand on that.. let me keep somethings to myself. If someone would take the trouble to go through the history of cartoons and some characters, a lot of things will be explained.

And let me add once more.. I said american but I meant WEST. But I had the guts to let the word stay and not hit the edit button. Even after the comments of Manoj.

And I was also saying we are becoming more and more selfish. More and more into ourselves. Not caring whether something we do will hurt our parents, our spouse, children. It has become I, Me, Myself. Then why have a family? Why crave for togetherness when you cant give what you receive? Why have friends?

We should learn to give, and by saying this, I am telling myself too.