Wednesday, June 27, 2007

I am desi... or am I really?

Last night while chatting with an old school friend I ran into the risk of a debate with him. It has left me thoughtful and so I thought of sharing it with all.

Just while something was going on I begged to differ with him saying I am a little 'desi' kinds. It was enough to infuriate him. The conversation that took place between us goes as below:

He: Don't be a snob. You and desi? Huh!

Me: Why do you say so? I am desi and am proud to claim myself a desi. What do you percieve when I say I am desi?

He: I think we're gonna have a rough time ahead...b'coz i'll blurt out...desi-there's no harm in being that, but are we really that? Tell me what brand of jeans do u prefer? I'm sure it must be Levi's and not New port!

Me: I am as comfortable in my Lee Cooper as I am in that 100 Rupee kurta I bought from the street side. No dear I think you have got me all wrong all these while. I am very comfortable with those street children I work with in the NGO. I don't sport my expensive gogs or my Tissot watch when I go there.

He: That's ok.. I don't doubt ur intentions... I'm not finished..

Me: Please go ahead...

He: But ma'am we prefer Mc' Donalds over some road side tea stall...

Me: No not...again i crave for the bhelpuris on the road side as much as I crave for pizza hut, I am not brand specific frankly... no exxageration.

He: I knew it but just rechecked that that Lee cooper is from UK...

Me: Desi does not mean that I wont wear western clothes... It means not wearing only western clothes.

He: i somehow don't buy that...u may b an exception--then this is uncalled for..

Me: No it's not being exceptional, i find most of the people in my company like that who dont have preset notions about things. I told you earlier also that I come from a very small place and I have not forgotten my roots, I enjoy the chaat papri in a shady chandni chowk shop as much as I enjoy blue- berry mousse in Wengers... It's all about the way one looks at things...

He: People will go for Himesh monkey's show, but when it comes to an Indian rock band, they'll say it's evil western...

Me: That is a justified grudge... I don't endorse that. Thats being against westernisation... and I am not so. I want to flaunt my indianness with pride.

He: See boss, let me be straight, my experience is that most of the people (THAT INCLUDES ME AS WELL) have been so much adapted to the western influences that I hardly find a sense in that word

Me: Indianness is about attitude, it's the outlook.

He: Lemme ask u , what is ur idea of a perfect career these days--- answer honestly...

Me: I will be honest... Its like working somewhere which pays well and gives enough time to pursue something that gives meaning to your life

He: That brings u a multinational, right? You're a mathematician--why don't plan to join ISRO and contribute to a space mission?

Me: I dont mind multinationals, but there are big Indian companies also these days doing well like the Tatas, Ambanis, Mallyas etc. And when did i say indianness means being against globalisation?

He: I have seen u're a fan of L.N. Mittal? But does Mittal pay even the income tax to the govt of India?

Me: I know I am...I like the guts of the man it's not because he is a UK citizen but its because he is a gutsy person. He is paying the taxes for the revenues he is collecting from India and why should he pay otherwise as he is not using the Indian infrastructure...

He: Yeah yeah... He won't have it cheaper anywhere else...

Me: See my dear, there are always two sets of people, one who wants to make profit and one who wants to serve and the society has the resilience to accomodate both the sets.

He: This poor country, our Govt spends approx 10 lakhs to make me an engineer, nd I'm going to serve the american corporate... our greatest desi actor is a farmer, our desi netas are involved in trafficing ??

Me: I just said that there are both sets of people, if you serve for an American company, there are people who serve for DRDO and ISRO as well.

He: Sadly not dear... And I dont mind L.N.Mittal making profits and all, but why do we Indians ( I'm afraid to call me one) always die over him? What has he done for this country?

Me: What has Kalpana Chawla done for the country or Sunita Williams or Salman Rushdie or Swaraj Paul or I can name many done for this country? Virtually nothing you may safely say... But still they have done lots, they have shown the world that Indian people can do wonders if given the right opportunities.

He: I beg to differ...

Me: There is something called Brand India... They have endorsed the idea...

He: Hahaha, I don't believe you trust all this. What's Brand India? We don't stand anywhere in the world except for, may be, the largest market of the western world... they overproduce and we buy... and thank ourselves for the god-sent worn out wrangler that lights up our closets... conveniently forgetting that we've payed the same as any American would have paid in Dollars. Ma'am the wicket is too sticky here...

Me: See I am not one of those kinds who dont see hopes in things and hence stop working towards betterment... I never said India is the best country to live in... But everybody's house is in a mess, we ourselves need to set it right, we need to take charge now. We keep saying the system is rotten and stuff than doing anything ourselves... i was on the auto the other day and the auto relentlessly went on saying about the decline the country was seeing... i kept hearing him for long and then asked a simple question.. how many kids do you have? He made a sorry face... said three... I told him see, what did you do to end the woes of country? You added to the problems the country is facing and cribbing about the sorry state of affiars and blaming the govt... Further asked him if he earns enough to educate his children and he drove the rest of the journey in silence. So my point is that when we ourselves are not doing anything for the betterment of the ocuntry who gives us the authority to criticize it...

He: Yeah why shud he? Or for that matter we instead let us bask in the glory-- the eternal feel good factor...

Me: Ha ha ha... Dont be sarcastic, I dint mean that.... I dont say that you go around carrying the sense that everything is alright... Everthing is not alright I know that well, but it also does not mean that while chatting we only see at the gloomy side of things... I am an eternal optimist...phew!

He: I'm a branded pessimist...

Me: So probably thats the reason we fought so much over it, the half filled glass...

He: Hahaha... It's the emptiness...

Me: No my dear, it's the filled part.

And thats how our conversation ended. Readers are welcome to share their side of the debate.