Sunday, November 20, 2005

Worldviews. The fantasies and otherwise - 1

I am always ready to be corrected. Since day one on this planet my views have changed so much that I am sure we can never be absolutely correct in any perception unless we have met and seen everything. Below I talk much of America... even though I never been there yet! But note!

When I was young, very very young, I saw these three hiker foreign girls walking past my house. And it seems that I told my mom - " I will marry these girls". And till date my mother beleives that those words are the reason why I am not married! Of course, beleive me that is not the reason!

Anyways, we were quite influenced by US when we were kids. It meant freedom and if you had some special 'miniority condition' it was an even more special issue. This freedom became an overriding condition. Even if I felt bad about Red Indians being beaten in US movies, Chinese & Japs being joked about; men trigger happy to kill each other to prove that who is more man - freedom was it all. And American merchandise was well accepted with all its stars and stripes.

And as is special to people in India ( those not affected by power), a sight of single farang man or woman in the airport, station or street would always melt my heart and I would feel like extending my hand for any help they needed. They just seemed so fragile - irrespective of how tough they were. I suspect this is the same original feeling that people in Thailand carry.

We grew up with lifestyle where we try to collect as many American symbols and sometimes would argue on behalf of total freedom.

But inspite of the exterior, my heart did not lie in the US. The thought of going to US scared me. I was intimidated in my head about people with strong opinions, ready to express it at short notice. I was intimidated in my head about people who would not accept the child in me, in the name of being a self-sustaining individual adult - and seeking help was considered a bane. I was scared that I would not be able to join their party because I did not have enough dollars in my hand.

So, America and its influence caused my life to split into two streams. In my view it was hard to be loved in the US! But its idea of freedom was something which came easy on the tongue and we would talked of it almost by reflex. My family is a mix of people in the cities with relatives abroad, those in villages, some rich, some relatively poor. So, to one section of my cousins I would project the US in me and to the other I would share the rest.

My heart however lay in Asia. Here I imagined I would always be loved. I would fantasise being a monk in a monastery in Tibet searching the depths of truth. I would imagine going to China and learning martial arts and being part of a warrrior team which would travel around the world protecting the oppressed. It hurt me a great deal when I heard that India had a war with China! These were thoughts which would never be spoken though with the modern city cousins who decided your rep. It would be the American stuff we would talk of, for that was fashion.

But us local cousins and mates, whenever we got a chance, would see every popular local movie, Jackie Chan & Bruce Lee movies that appeared. We would never miss any of the epic movies, especially about Hanuman & various other Gods. I saw them all. While at the same time I would enjoy watching the war and westerns from US. The first ones would touch my heart! The next ones would excite and be used to boast about how much we connected with the new world. Anything local was ... well out of fashion. However, to my fellows in hostel and 'not so modern' cousins we would fantasise around the local movies, jackie, martial arts and the power of our Gods. These were kept hidden from our cousins from US.

When some relatives would travel down from the Americas the first and most important thing we asked for would be Jeans. With jeans on your leg you were in. We would preserve it like gold till the next one arrived.

When in hostel, my set of Jeans, stickers from US, marker pens etc. etc. were prized possesions.

As mentioned earlie, my family is a mix of people in cities, people in villages, rich & poor. Now, when I was in hostel I had a choice of which relative to visit during those short holidays (may parents were in a far city). If I was keen on entertainment I would visit my relatives in the city where we would talk of all new foreign movies, watch TV, listen to disco music and act like we were far removed from the local culture and liberated and we used to argue and argue. This family would have visited abroad few times and would have enough goodies at home brought back. When I used to visit this family - I would enter the house, and sack out in a room. The relatives would carry on their business, while I would spend time with the kids.

But if I was hungry and if I was feeling lonely I would go to my aunts place in the village. There as soon as I would arrive she would make sure I get food of my liking with at least a stack of 20 rotis & lots of rice - all stacked up. I could eat like hell then. She knew why I came and never questioned it. She would pick my bag and all clothes would automatically washed. Instead she would bring me clean shirts and pants which belonged to my cousin. She would talk to me non-stop as I ate and did not care if I was concenterating on the food. My cousin would immediately be excited and the next thing we would do is to go to the fields for a bath alongside the tubewell or river. And we would spend hours just doing that. We would first talk of all the scandals in the village and make a list of the movies we will go for and people he will introduce. I loved it like anything. And in turn I would explain him the mysteries of the modern world which I never visited. Most of them just my personal versions. But still, as I said, I would come here only if I was hungry for food or feeling lonely. Else, it was to my modern urban relatives.

This split life was very much part of our upbringing but it would change drastically as I grew and saw more of the world.

Note, when I use 'America' above its loosely used for the entire Western world. So, how it was then. And I will carry this on in the next post.... on how I found there is more to this world than met our eyes. And how my American cousins started turning to India, while I turned to the world.


Blogger iGotNoTime said...

Wow very touching writing, but i assure freedom has it's costs. Many of which you even mentioned.

11:03 AM  

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