I have been reading a lot of blogs over the past few weeks. Some are so brilliant, they make my mind whirl. I have read a fair few about India and Indians. People come here from other countries with a large amount of misconceptions, and plenty of ancient stereotypes. I decided that I would write a bit about where I come from.
India is indeed a mixture of races, religions, castes, and languages. We all have different dialects for each language, and there over a hundred languages that still survive. Only a handful have scripts. The four quadrants of the country have different ways of living, just like in the different hemispheres of the world.
Lots of people have asked me or people I know if we speak Indian. That’s like saying do Americans speak American. India is a country, Indian is a person from India. Our languages are more on the lines of Hindi, Kannada, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Punjabi, Gujarati, Marati, Marwadi, Sindhi, Sanskrit, and more. Hindi is the national language.
As much as I would love to say I know all about my country, I could never say that honestly. My country has so many nooks and crannies that hide secrets like a protective mother. A few weeks ago, my sister discovered a temple that is more than 700 years old. This temple is dedicated to the Lord Vishnu (the savior.) Its such delicious surprises that await people here.
My country is crowded, I agree. It has a lot of people, animals, and recently, vehicles. Villages and cities have marked differences. And that would mean when we city dwellers venture into the slow paced, tiny, lovely villages, we are as lost as you would be.
Indian villages are ideal spots to be if you want to learn what hard work and living really mean. The villagers are up before the sun, and in bed early too. They eat ragi mudde (finger millet flour mixed and moulded into a ball,) which is really very difficult to chew. It sort of sticks to the roof of your mouth, and you swallow it. This is what keeps them running throughout the day. The ragi that they eat is most nutritious, and power packed. I have ragi mixed with milk, made into porridge for breakfast.
Villages are no longer backward. The number of schools that have sprung up in the past few years, and the fact that television is now quite popular, people in villages are not that far behind from the city dwellers. In fact, they have the best of both worlds.
A lot of people I know have given up well paying jobs in the city to be a part of the wonderful Teach for India venture. This aims at making the less fortunate kids as educated as the ‘fortunate’ ones.
The wonderful thing about my people and country is our ability to welcome people. Athithi devo bhava literally meaning “a guest is like God” is almost always the motto we follow. My country, the Mother of yogashastra, is something that everyone has to experience once in their lives.
There is so much more that I have to say but cannot find words enough to describe our Mother. She is often defined, in our Bollywood film music, as “the bindi on a bride’s forehead” the significance of which is as strong as a bride’s wedding band in a Christian wedding.
Like any country, we have our drawbacks, and the exceptions that make you stereotype us. But I would say, come here with an open mind and an open heart, and be prepared to want to stay here longer.