To think out of my box

Slowly, as the world pushes you into feeling and behaving like an adult, for me it comes as a whole task to gulp that down. I still feel outcast when my homies call out to the children at home to get some ice-cream at a near by shop, and I’m not among them. You are now supposed to make small talk with any relative you may not like, it is bad to walk away, something you could do as a child. As a child or a teenager, I always resolved to not change much when I grow up. I wanted to remain unbiased towards everything as I was then. But we all know – we grow up to those, our biases, our choices, our comfort zones.

A teacher in my high school once asked us ‘Children, like now you all don’t discriminate amongst each other to be friends on the basis of religion, but when you grow up, why do you change?’. At that point I happened to feel sure, I wouldn’t change, neither will these other teenagers around me. But you know what may have happened by now. Not so much for religion though, I happened to grow to a very strong cultural bias.

It was a mental block created over a period of time to be culturally conservative. Most of the times I hated the culture of taking safe decisions in life rather get any closer to pre-defined risks. I was to opt for a more stable career path like engineering instead of architecture or arts, which did not assure a job in those times. Then after a graduate degree I was supposed to find a job or get married, a possibility of higher education did not occur to us as it was just too much already that I was doing the graduation. With smaller ambitions, put in shape with time, facilitated with least exposure to outer world or other people with bigger ambitions – I graduated. Internet was available then, but not as much as in the metros at that time. And we weren’t boys to get the access if required, cause for them it is justified to seek answers in our culture.

My story goes on just like many other girls here, but the cultural bias how it affects the ambitions we inculcate, is something I often contemplate.

As a teenager, and even in early 20s, watching USA in movies as a place of free-thoughts and free-will, and even having close relatives there, it did not ever excite me to be there. I was a always a independence hungry girl, rebellious in all the ways, but yet culturally curbed. Growing up in India, I always thought the independence I seek, is possible in this country itself, why go abroad ? I thought I just need to be financially independent to get away from parents’ interference in my life. I know, I was naive. Indian parents never will think they have no business with you after you are 18. Since they gave birth to you, they have the right over your life- right until your own children get married or if life is generous, even the grandchildren! after a struggle to find yourself amidst the pressure to get married, even if you succeed to find yourself a career you love, you will, well .. get married one day. All this had not ever occurred to me earlier that making a decision to remain in india and not go abroad will cut down my circle of life to such a small circumference.

It is only after years, when you see the world around you thinking differently about matter, is when it strikes – did I cut down my opportunities to grow?

I have by now spent some years working with Americans or Europeans on various projects, and for a designer’s job, I constantly required to think outside the Indian mindset of things. May be I’m more deeply devoured by the indian-ness than many others, and that is what disgusts me. No matter how I hate playing safe at all times, I’m unconsciously doing so with my career plans or even life plans. I often question myself, had it been different if I took a bold step to go study abroad ? taken the heart to pursue education in what I believed to be the right thing for me ? I’ve always made decisions to stay in this comfort zone, where the terrain and people and their behaviors remain same, no matter what. I’ve always felt the discomfort to move outside it. I still think of all those NRIs I’ve know as someone ignorant and an outsider to culture of this country. I feel proud at times that I know more about my country’s roots that they will ever know or care for. But their life has possibilities that I may not face. They don’t need to feel connected or worried about this country. So is my patriotism just an excuse ? may be it is.

My manager would constantly echo this on our conversations – ‘In America, this is how we do it, you must think on those lines’. I don’t think it applies to my profession, because i’m mostly involved with the web, which is same for the US or India, or is it ? In any case, I do not refer to indian web as much for inspiration or cognition of solutions, as it is plainly not good at it yet. But there are many a times, I happen to think like an indian, the temptations like coming to work and not working, and leaving early. Indians were never very hard working types when they get paid reasonably. Look at the classes of society, the poorly paid work the hardest. Is it the sub-continent weather ? or are we just genetically easy-money hungry ?

Or may be because I’m just an artist and yearn to spend afternoons painting in a huge studio, instead of breaking my head on a corporate software solution. The Business world always brings this feeling of inferiority in me, of being incompetent. It makes me long to go and create a different niche somewhere and stay out of touch – in my box.

Hindu (Managers’) Stupidity

To begin with, I’m a Hindu myself. This post points to the Hindu community which has a history of not respecting or believing in itself, which vows to remain strikingly stupid!

I have immense respect for this religion, with even its diversities and differences, it has always been a symbol for wisdom. The kind of wisdom where the sciences, mathematics or even Kama-sutra was invented. Out-wardly it proves to be the most tolerant and spiritually gifted clan. Or that is what I want to believe, given my own reasoning. It is also supposedly the birth-giver to the infamous caste-system, which has essentially passed on over to other religions all over India from Hinduism. You don’t believe ? watch this to know, there is caste-system in each and every community in India, because everyone has been converted at some point.

Coming to the point, this community has always been stupid enough to let anybody else lead them, brainwash them. They could never be wise enough to respect their own riches of knowledge or wisdom. They have constantly been raided and looted by invaders over the centuries, coaxed into converting, forced to labor. At least this you believe right ? These however, are facts from the past. They have eventually established the virtues of their gray matter at home and overseas and world-wide. But this, at the cost of a cultural topsy-turvy.

I’m here really angered by those who have soared so high in their careers and societal statures, but never have defended their own culture. I agree the culture has eventually deformed in number of ways, but how many of you know the history of it ? Sadly most of us believe more in the deformations of this rich culture than its original version.

I question all those permanent residents of western countries, how many good things about your culture do you convey to the people abroad? do you think you are entitled enough to bad-mouth your own country in a foreign land? Did it occur to you that you may be mis-informed to make those statements ? Do you realize the purdah-ghunghat system you despise was something induced much later in this culture, and for what reasons ? Can you even tell why Holi or Diwali is celebrated in a certain way ?

Coming to the people residing in India itself. You are a shame if you have never contemplated over the questions above, as if spitting in your own plate wasn’t bad enough, talk about disrespect! You do not respect your own culture. Why am I questioning all this out of nowhere ? It is because years of observation of our metro-city-culture. As the industrialization happened, our constant need for business increased, we transformed from manufacturing industries into MNCs and a dominant IT sector. Now think about the principles how our MNCs work. They clearly disregard your need to be like yourself, sound like yourself, and even wear like you want, so now you can’t of course ask about celebrating your own festivals. Ya I get it, we will do business only how I customer pleases. But tell me, shouldn’t this argument be buried when indian industry has soared those heights world wide? we are known everywhere now, so are our characteristics. Why do we still try to hide them ?

I have everything against the Indian management sector. The Manager, HR or technology or anyone in that managerial position. Why have you never had the damn guts to tell those foreigners that you have a life here! Your need to celebrate ‘Diwali’ is as important as their’s to take a whole month off for ‘Christmas’ ?? We anyway merely ask for a week to celebrate the most important festival, not a month. But denied that too. And why do you argue that the westerners do not have as many festivals to celebrate like indians, when we know none of us even know what half of them are or how to celebrate even a few of them! Why do you never think twice before canceling out a ‘Sankranti‘ or ‘Holi‘ or ‘Dusshera‘ from the holiday list, while easily giving official offs to ‘Good Friday’, ‘Eid’ or ‘Christmas’ holidays ?

I do not wish to start thinking that ‘may be the managers are all non-hindus’, my guess is it can’t be possible. Hindus are still the majority in India and not all managers can be possibly non-hindus to have missed on importance of Hindu festivals. The culprits are hindus themselves, no one else. You constantly try to show off, that it is not important enough for you to be home on Diwali, but you will know exactly when a ‘Thanksgiving’ or a ‘Halloween’ is celebrated. The joke is on you, the young generation now has no clue about our rituals or festivals. They do guess work to even blurt out the names of the important days. On the contrary, they know it all about Christmas, Halloween or Thanksgiving! Infact, they may have never attempted to play ‘Holi’ the way it should be because it isn’t hygienic but will readily agree to do a ‘La-tomatina’ after watching bollywood stars doing it.

Isn’t that is why the English ever were able to rule us ? you thought they were so majestic, wiser than you, and classier, and slowly let them become your rulers. Shame on us, this hasn’t changed. All those NRIs, the westerners know how much you loath your own country and its traditions. I’m aware we have the worst kind of politics in rule, and the culture has deformed into a conservative and narrow-minded body, but how much do you wish to change it?

Did you ever try to get to the roots and see where it got this deformed face ? If you would have, you would never question the beauty of ‘Sankranti’ or ‘Holi’ or ‘Diwali’, you would never keep from expressing its importance to this community. You are plainly killing it in the name of getting business relations.