Browsing: From Me to You
Spellcheck needed – or you won’t get a coat, pant or shirt, says Lassi with Lavina during this jaunt in a Delhi market. You may end up with a cot, paint and something called a sirt!
‘India’s Daughter’ – that is hardly an endearment, a belated title of honor for the courageous young woman, a citizen of India Shining, who was left to fend for herself in the crowded, uncaring streets.
Where was India when its daughter waited, waited late in the night for safe public transportation? Where was India as six goons brutally beat and raped her in a moving bus with tinted windows and curtains on public streets? Where was India when she and her male companion were beaten senseless, stripped and thrown from the bus like unwanted commodities?
We did not know her first name nor her last name. We would not have recognized her if we had met her face to face in the marketplace. Yet in her terrible travails, in her slow, excruciating death, she is us. Every Indian woman who exists anywhere in any country is related to her.
On the Delhi-Matura road heading out to Agra, as our pristine luxury bus merges into the sea of dusty, meandering trucks, lorries, buses, cars, scooters, cycles and the occasional camel, it is possible to see life being lived in the open.
From the window of this secluded and privileged world, I can see India whizzing by: ramshackle paan bidi shops; one man – one table entrepreneurships selling chole matter for Rs.15; dingy snack shacks bursting with bottled water, chips, and of course Pepsi and Coke.
There are helmet stands with colorful helmets positioned on the sidewalk; a sign ‘Hell or helmet’ which tells of people’s growing awareness of road safety; a mini roadside temple to the God Hanuman festooned with marigold garlands; and of course, people, people and more people everywhere.
The verdict is in – Dharun Ravi gets 30 days imprisonment for spying with a webcam on Tyler Clementi, his roommate having a sexual encounter with a male, and then tweeting about it. Clementi later committed suicide. Did the punishment fit the crime or was it too light?
For many Indians living in America, India is the talisman, the sacred thread around their wrists, which connects them to the past and their changing tomorrows. Visit any Indian American family and there are bound to be keepsakes which link them to their lost homeland.
For some it may be a frayed album of photographs frozen in time, for others it may be a much loved folk painting or a pair of tablas, percussion drums. For me it is my silver icons of Krishna and Radha, on their own carved throne, which sits is in my home in Long Island, NY.
I look at it and I am transported back to my home in New Delhi in the India of decades ago. My mother would bathe the many Gods in her home shrine and carefully put new clothing on these mini figurines, cutting holes in silken cloth with a small pair of scissors.
In India you can see man and monkeys living together in an uneasy truce. A photograph that got away was of at least 20 monkeys all dangling from a traffic light pole in Agra! Before I got my camera out, the bus had moved on and the clambering monkeys remain a delightful snapshot in my memory. I’m sure the monkeys run rampant in places like Benares, Mathura and Haridwar.
In fact, I distinctly remember having my toast snatched from my hand by a greedy monkey at the Haridwar Railway Station many years ago. Now I caught glimpses of monkeys – and humans, outside a small wayside temple near the Ranthambhore National Park. Seen as a form of Hanuman, the venerated Monkey God, these monkeys are indulged and even fed by passers-by.
By now you’ve all probably read Joel Stein’s ‘My Own Private India’ in TIME magazine – his tirade against Indians in Edison, NJ and heard of the big hullabaloo that’s ensued. The bloggers, Indian media as well as regular folk are quite upset about Stein’s seemingly bigoted views.
“All that needs to be done is Indian merchants should stop selling TIME in their news-stands, and c-stores,” fumes Nayan Padrai, a reader of this blog. “Indian doctors should cancel their subscription for waiting room copies, and Indian CEOs of Fortune 500 companies should instruct their marketing managers not to advertise in TIME! Joel is surprised at the ‘non-Gandhian’ response on Twitter. So please send a ‘Gandhian’ response of boycott!”
READ ALL COMMENTS