Thursday, October 23, 2008

Change or no change?

As I made my way out from the airport, I made a mental note of the fact that I should brace myself for the changes. Well, I had not visited India for the last three years, and all that I could gain about India was from the different websites and inputs from my friends who had traveled back home during this period. There is always a sense of apprehension and fear as you prepare to face what you do not want to face. There is a fixed image of the country in your mind, and for heaven's sake, you want to see it that way. You want to see certain changes, and at the same time, you do not want to see a wholesale of them. Life is strange in the sense that you want to adapt to the changes but without the knowledge that you are actually reacting to the change.

I walked out on the road with not a trace of unfamiliarity. They were the same roads, the same muddy pools of water, and the cracks on the roads did not breed any sense of contempt from my side. The waywardness of life did not stump me, for India is the place where the uncertainties in life somehow help you find a firm footing. People are beset with a lot of problems, yet, manage to find the right solutions to move ahead. This certainly is one of the greatest characteristics of the people of India. I sat as a pillion with my father maneuvering (Googled the word, but still unsure about the spelling!) the bike as though he was trying to escape some sort of meteors in a sci-fi movie. Initially, it was scary, but after a point, you realize that this is the only way to beat the traffic here. At all times, the travel seems unsafe, and you feel it is some sort of miracle once you reach the destination safely. But, actually, you realize that there is nothing miraculous about it. Now, I was feeling queasy, as I was being hit with a different question Has India changed or have I changed?

It was funny as I went to a shop nearby, and as I entered the shop, I noticed two people at the counter, attending to five different customers at the same time. I was wondering how I could get my job done. So, I merged with this imaginary line and almost magically, after a few minutes of wait, I was attended to by one of the two attendants. Well, that's how things work in India. In US, people would automatically align themselves in the order of arrival, but in India, the haphazardness is brought to an orderly fashion by something that is inbuilt in us. It is just the way we are brought up.

In India, there just cannot be something called as solitude (well, that's what some of the foreign aficionados would say), but I prefer to call it loneliness. It was a treat to catch up with family friends, and old timers, who sport a big beam as soon as they see you. Take a walk on any street, there would be a known face, and they would make it a point to inquire in what state you are (may be sarcastic as well!!). But, one of the good things is that, as you walk on the street and meet a fellow Indian, you would not have to sport that weak smile and hope to receive an acknowledgment. Here, everybody is a fellow Indian. What a realization!!!

As I continue my stay in India, I have to reiterate that, come what may, for all its faults, I just cannot hate India. I may be biased, but this is one of the issues where I feel it is not all that bad to be biased!!!


  1. This one made me smile and I so agree with you. :-)

    India can not be hated. Its very own.

  2. Wow, someone is getting all senti ! Sometimes change is so gradual that you do not realise it immediately; be it a change in yourself or your surroundings.

  3. See the question is not about hating India!! How can anyone hate India...It's home!!! But I am gald that where you went, you did not see the changes. But when I landed in Mumbai, the change was huge. It wa sonly when I went to Patna, did I feel that I was at home.So I would Like to think that it really depends on where you are going and that is when you can see if things have changed or not.

  4. nice, Mr. Praveen! Completely agree with the "bias"...its the right kind of bias one should have too. Which indian can really hate his own country? ;-) And the part about nobody being lonely in india is soo correct!I bet all those people from down the street are thronging ur place already.Am i right? ;-) Great post!!

  5. Cuckoo,
    Yep definitely :-)

    Facts can never be sentimental :-) Yes, there are changes, but certain things can never change. It is easy to identify that in spite of a few superficial changes, the soul of the place is still the same!

    I am not really sure about that!!! I am not talking about the malls and other places. You tend to attribute changes to places where you have lived all your life, and if that has changed, then you can notice it immediately. About the other places, you hardly care!!! I still haven't visited the hep places of Bangalore!!!!I haven't been to MG's or Brigade's yet!!! I might spend an evening there and find the real changes :-), and I wouldn't really be concerned about the changes in these places!!

    Hahaha, you bet!!! I still haven't moved well outside Malleswaram :-)

  6. Hi,

    I was reading ur blog posts and found some of them to be very good.. u write well.. Why don't you popularize it more.. ur posts on ur blog ‘Ninaivugal...Thoughts’ took my particular attention as some of them are interesting topics of mine too;

    BTW I help out some ex-IIMA guys who with another batch mate run where you can post links to your most loved blog-posts. Rambhai was the chaiwala at IIMA and it is a site where users can themselves share links to blog posts etc and other can find and vote on them. The best make it to the homepage!

    This way you can reach out to rambhai readers some of whom could become your ardent fans.. who knows.. :)


  7. I stumbled on your blog while searching for real estate info about Malleswaram.I can fast forward your life by 10 years.I studied in BP Indian, grew up in Malleswaram,watched the attack of the apartments because I have played cricket in the vacant grounds of the plot where Kasturi Dhama now stands.I went abroad, worked for 10 years,in-between got married back in bangalore, went abroad again.I got tired of eating bagels for breakfast and subs for lunch and the lack of colour in general and packed up and came back to Malleswaram with my family. I was not an Indian citizen anymore and neither were my kids, but that did not stop me.I immigraed back. Only thing, I managed to buy property in Malleswaram before the prices shot up to insane levels.Pretty much the same thing is guaranteed for you, unless something radical happens, like you marry an american or something, which almost happened to me.Otherwise this is the path you will tread. Cheers.

  8. Anonymous,
    Nice to know that you have moved back to Bengaluru :-) Feels awesome to know that you are back in Malleswaram. I am sure you have found your colour(I like the way you have spelt that word!!) in life. It is nice to know that after ten years, you had it in you to move back, and that when you had set up a family in US!!!