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Thoughts on Jayanthi's Website: How I Identify Myself as Indian

by UmaShankar SathyaKumar
Jennifer Akka,

Vanakkam. Nalam. Nalam Ariya Aaval. I’ve been going through your web pages again and again. Basically, comparing your views and what I think about it. Also, I must agree that I might not have given much importance to your web pages, if I am in India. I think I am reading it. Because, I live in America. I am reading your web pages with such involvement, which is hard to explain. The web pages took me through all the experiences I have had in Chennai, while I was there for 20 years. The fact is I miss my India in many terms. Though I have whatever I need here in America, what I cannot get is India itself. It is a unique feeling that will come to mind as life moves ahead.

I do watch Indian movies, listen to Indian Music, go to temples, cook spicy Indian food, call my friends on weekend and talk in Tamil, download latest Indian classical music, watch world cup cricket and cheer Sachin Tendulkar, go to Bollywood shows, watch SUN TV, Read Indian magazines, keep the house clean, pray every morning after bath. This list can go on and on. But, the fact is that I am not in India. It is like no other woman can become my mother. No country can replace as India. I love India for many reasons and every reason is the answer for “ What makes you as Indian?”

1. India is land of One Billion People. In every five humans on earth, you will find one Indian anywhere you go from Africa to Australia, Iceland to India. Indians are every where just like a god does.

2. In any big Market place, you can hear different languages from English to Telugu. No where in the world you can find people speaking over 250 different languages in just one country like India does.

3. In India, every meal is a feast. Dosa & Sambar are favorites all over India as favorite as in Madras. Likewise, Naan & Chicken Korma are favorites all over India as favorite as in Delhi. It will take more than a lifetime to taste all kind of Indian food.

4. There is every kind of dress for every occasion. People wear cotton to silk. Levi’s to Peter England. India is colorful. From the North to South, East to West, every state has its own traditional dress!

5. All kind of music from Classical to Pop. All kind of noise from loudspeakers to street dog. All king of sound from early Morning Prayer song to late night food stalls. Indians sleep. India never sleeps.

6. Even if you don’t understand anything in the local language, people will understand you. Educated or Uneducated, people will read your mind and you will get a “Hello” as well “Bye!!Bye!”.

7. One sport is played so passionately every where from street corners to stadiums. Whenever Indian team plays, You will see people from six-year-old to sixty sitting in front of the television sets. Those days are unofficial public holidays. Yes! Cricket drives India crazy.

8. At any given day, somewhere in India, people will celebrate some kind of festival. No matter what kind of occasion is. There is always a reason to celebrate and cherish. In India, life is full of festivals.

9. No matter where you go, what you do. Every journey, every occasion starts with plenty of blessings and wishes. That’s why Bus stations, Train Stations, Airports are packed with people who give Sendoffs than people who travel.

10. In any Indian house, hospitality is very much different than the terms of western world. It is not about rich food, luxurious bed to sleep. There is affection & love in treating a guest. Guest is suppose to be treated as same as god. Indians know it.

11. In India, You could see all kind of emotions in people’s faces from Happiness, smiling and crying. You will go through the feelings, and you live up to every moment of life. India is full of feelings.

12. Birthplace of many religions likes Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhism, and many. You could pray anything. You could worship anything. You could follow any religion you want. (Or) You can also follow nothing! Even, you can speak against religion.

13. In the slums or in the streets, No matter how poor people live, there is something for everyone. There is an attitude to share, there is an attitude to give, and there is an attitude to compromise. Every moment in India, you will actually learn to live.

14. The smell of food, the smell of hot coffee, the smell of flowers, the smell after the rain in summer…There is all kind of smell is in the air. India has it’s own Flavor. It is something very unique.

15. You do not need any map or driving directions; From Autowallas to the street corner grocery stores, people will give direction wherever you may want to go. You will never get lost. By the time you reach the place, you will have an adventure to remember!

16. You will find people who set their clock 20 or more minutes ahead of actual time. Still follow Indian Standard Time (ISD). You could go to bus stop 5 minutes late and still you could catch the bus!

17. Six or seven songs. Romance. Fighting. Comedy. Friendship. Indian movies offer all kind of emotions. A happy ending. All you need is only Three hours and thirty minutes to watch one Indian movie!

18. There is always a time to do everything. Time Management system is being practiced for many years. Twenty-four hours for a single day is surely not enough for a day to live in India. Time goes too fast without much notice.

19. In a bus, you could see friends meeting each other, inquiries about health, jokes, laughing, comments about the latest movie, reading newspaper, talking politics, giving up seat for elderly people. There are always 100 people in 50 people capacity passenger bus.

20. Whether you like it or not. Believe it or not. In India, everything happens in life. All you could do is just feel it and take it as an experience. You will never forget it.

After living in Switzerland for about two years and living in America for last three years, I started realizing that it is impossible to live like a European or American. It is easy to identify myself as an Indian. Not only it gives me happiness but also, gives me an opportunity to accept the positives of American culture. I do not accept whatever America has in its way of life. I always take the positives of any culture to enhance my life experience.

Unlike in America, where people are mostly Christians. I have brought up with friends of all other religions in Chennai. When I was a kid, I remember going to a church or Mosque during festivals without even knowing the difference between Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. I thought all are same as One God. All I learned is you do good things and always-good things will happen to you. So, accepting other faiths is not difficult for me. I do believe and have faith in other religions as much as I do in Hinduism. I consider Hinduism as my identity rather than a religion. I don’t understand whenever someone talks to me as if Christianity is the only great religion. All of us must leave everything about religion and be proud for what we are as humans. Religion is nothing but Old age Politics of Easter year kings.

In India, women are viewed totally different than in the western world. One must agree that “Freedom” for a western woman is always more than any Indian woman has. But, the western world’s social life style is not the same as India’s. But, considering all social and cultural values, I think, in India, many household decisions are made by woman. Their influence is valued. They are respected in weddings, in any auspicious occasions, in any public gathering, in any temple; in any Indian joint family...There are discriminations and violence against woman in India like anywhere else. The more and more women get education and exposure to the world will change this social scenario. Above all, one must not forget that Mrs.Indira Gandhi became the first woman Prime Minister of India. Today, there are few Indian states are ruled by Woman Chief Ministers. Many Indian women are educated and hold key Indian Government Service positions. Likewise there were many achievements done by women in the past. I think, Indian women are now mentally stronger than ever before.

I was absolutely impressed about your web pages. Keep this work. You will get many more Indian friends. Take care.

UmaShankar SathyaKumar
Submitted by Uma on 5/20/03.

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