Springville, Utah, USA
Not a single tricolor anywhere in my line of vision today. No strains of Vande Mataram or Jana Gana Mana, no live coverage of the PM's speech on television.. and yet..for so many Indians like me who are away from their country.. it is a day to retrospect. Got an email this morning.. one of those fun spams that you get about the facts and figures on India and how it should make you proud that the 3rd richest man is an Indian and we came up with the zero and were able to perform surgery ages before any one else.
Yes, emails like that do make me proud as it should any other Indian.. but being an Indian makes me the proudest... what does that mean to me? That is a good question ? what does it mean to people in our generation when they say that.. we have only read about the Indian struggle for independance in our history books, seen Aamir Khan in Lagaan and Ajay Devgan as Bhagat Singh and gotten goosebumps.. we have only watched LOC Kargill and cried at a sentimental song... do we know what it really means to be an Indian.. ??
What does India encompass in those five letters.... a civilization, a way of live, a diverse culture, traditions, festivals, ... no to me.. it epitomizes LOVE.. in the highest sense of the term...
More practical individuals than myself will probably scoff at this analogy, but somewhere behind the statistics and economics of our country, there is more. I am not blind to the issues of population, poverty and politics, but just for today leave that aside and look around you...
Take a snapshot of the country, beautiful children with dirty ragged faces but eyes that shine with stars.. old wrinkles that hide years of experience and affection, beautiful olive skin tones that are as sensitive as they are sensuous to a foreigner, vast open fields, scorching deserts, bustling metros.. and underneath it all a love that binds so many differing communities and denominations together.. Did I forget Godhra, Ayodhya ? No I didn't , but on this day.. Doesn’t it make more sense to talk about what just happened at Mumbai with the rains and how the spirit of India came alive in the way people helped each other out ? Why don't we talk about that ?
Why don't we talk about the various charitable institutions and hospitals that work tirelessly for the common man, where it doesn't matter what "insurance" we are on.. no one is left without some kind of basic care ? why don't we talk about the simple tradition of making sure when we have a guest., we always have something to offer them ?, why don't we talk about NRIs who have gone home and set up schools, hospitals and other institutions ?
Yes, I am romantic in my vision of my country and to me that works, not because I am miles away from it and rose tinted glasses work better from a distance, but because I truly believe in that my country epitomizes the mother's love for a child, the purest and the most selfless form of love - one that is unconditional and all giving..
I wish wonderful things for my country, for my people and hope that in some small way I will be able to cry and laugh with them and carry this nation proudly in my heart, mind and soul no matter where I am on God's wonderful green earth....
Written on I-day, 2005.