Monday, August 16, 2010

Happy New Year India

This weekend was blah.

It all began with Friday the 13th which turned out to be quite uneventful in the bad luck department. Which  is probably good.

It was followed by Saturday the 14th which was spent in discovering Bandra's newest chocolate dessert place. Chocolate Affair is part of an Australian chain. Great service, kind people. But, the hot chocolate was not-so hot. I went there with high hopes and a beaming face and an imaginary golden ticket in my hand.
But, this was no Chocolate Factory for me. It didn't unbutton my blouse the way I had hoped for it to. By which I mean 'with extra calories'. I was all set to be killed with chocolate and ready to feel sick while walking out of the door but, this was not a satisfying experience. Desserts are not meant to be low-cal so if you're going to do it, do it right. 
Their hot chocolate was not even close to as good as the one I make. It somewhat reminded me of an over-sweetened Bournvita (which is one level better than Horlicks but still sucks) with its pale brown colour and no punch. Mine on the other hand is made by adding a few drops of milk to a cup of chocolate - as described by Aku. It may not be the healthiest drink but it will make you feel like there are firecrackers going off in your head for sure.

I went home disappointed. They were showing Gandhi on TV. This is when I realised its nearly Independence Day, Republic Day, Gandhi Jayanti or Martyr's Days. I find Gandhi to be a very depressing movie and have probably watched it entirely just once in my life. I've watched The Song of Bernedette more times. I guess I choose unexplained miracles over reality.

Then came Sunday the 15th of August. I woke up early for my tennis class as usual. Did my regular Mumbai Darshan from Bandra to Colaba. In the past few months I have seen everything from a marathon, cycling race, skating race to even a vintage car rally. And on this Sunday the streets were dead. There were no flags hung everywhere or loudspeakers playing patriotic songs. I ended up seeing more mosquito killing rackets than tricolour pinwheels being sold on the road. What happened to that Independence Day excitement? Was everyone angry that the national holiday fell on a Sunday this year? Were they busy planning out next years Independence Day long weekend trip? The only Happy Independence Day text messages I got were from friends replying to my text.

Trivia from Wikipedia
To be honest, I hated waking up on a holiday and going to school for flag hoisting as a kid just as much as I hate standing up for the National Anthem that is played in the theatre before a movie. I'm sure others feel this way too but are too scared to express themselves for the fear of being judged. Whatever it is, I just think its an inappropriate time to play the anthem. This way noone really cares or takes it seriously. Besides my grandmom.

There is a clear difference between what my grandmom and I feel for our country for the simple reason that she grew up in pre-independent India and I was born after independence. Yesterday I watched her get emotional with tears in her eyes talk about how innocent people lost their lives and how the whole Karma thing is bullshit and life is unfair. Everything she said was true. She spoke through experience and I just had to agree with her. She told me about how people went absolutely crazy celebrating for about 3 days till they were told to stop and get back to reality on the radio which to me sounds insane.

I feel like I have a fair amount of knowledge about India besides the fact that I just realised that we have 28 states and 7 union territories thanks to my dear friend - Google. I know. It's a shame. But, I have traveled around the country and learnt a lot, mostly on school camps. Been everywhere from Lakshadweep to Sikkim and still feel like I've seen nothing. I was watching Gordon's Great Escape (my new favourite show) last night and realised that. Living in Bombay, we feel like we know India but we've hardly seen anything. It maybe unfortunate that Gordon Ramsay, a Britisher, needed to show us this. I hated him in Hell's Kitchen and thought that he was the scum of the earth but after watching this show I have this newfound respect for the man. He really experienced India and filmed it so that we could also share the experience with him. And what better way to experience India than with food. I guess the British have done more for us than just giving us the railways and a couple of cool stone buildings. Though I have to admit, as a child I remember being very angry about them stealing the Kohinoor Diamond from us.

I'm over it now. Luckily. Or England would be in trouble.

People from other countries see India as the land of mystery. And elephants for some reason. We have come a long way from the backward country others imagine us to be.

Being Indian is a part of all of us. I don't know how to explain it. But, recently my friend Mallika paid me a compliment in the most Indian way possible. She was upset about something and said she felt like Khichdi and thanked me for being her Dahi. You'll only understand that if you're Indian.

I love my country. Its incredible, diverse, a place of hope and beautiful people.

Happy New Year India.

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