Moving to Europe was definitely a drastic change in my life and the people around me. Apart from the time difference, job pursuits and learning the language, it has been enriching yet not so exactly smooth experience. Life has been good and as usual, I wound up making lots of friends here too or at least try. Having lived in the east, west and travelled to the south of India and hailing from the central part of India, I have encountered lots of personalities and am well-versed with the nature, traits, lifestyle, eating habits, etc, of most of them. I have had best friends who are Nagas as well as Marathis. My partners in crimes were Delhiites as well as Lungi-dancers. My colleagues ranged from Bengalis, Kashmiris, Rajasthanis to Gujjus and I fell in love with a UP man and got hitched. There are “regional” divides in India if I could say so, but people beautifully mingle amongst each other irrespective of the differences.
All this still seems rosy until one is in India, but seriously what happens to the same folks when they come abroad for either short or long term? There’s hardly any love lost between them. People ape and befriend Americans, Australians, Japanese, and Germans, Swedes but not their fellow people. Something changes, the same people who meet each other at Chai-ki-tapri and chat hours, hardly “meet” even if we have more time here. The same people, who used to ogle at girls with their pals in buses, stare into their phones and get lost in the music playing into their ears. The same people, who used to drop on weekdays unexpectedly at their friends place just to have a midnight stroll, now need to “think” of calling or meeting somebody prior to two weeks that too on weekends. Have we become more civilized or just don’t want to show our “Indian-ness”?
Moreover, we search for groups even more here. South Indians have their very own strong communities abroad and so do Gujaratis. Marathis and Bongs seek comfort if they see fellow state mates and fortunately or unfortunately we “north Indians” are a scattered group (We always were.). We try to fit with whosoever we feel good. I saw social networking sites flooded with groups of different states celebrating their own festivals, screening their regional films but somehow that sadly creates a divide. So what is it actually, is it the comfort zone, the language barrier, effect of the west or just the two states all over again? Not so long ago, my Swede friends saw me converse with my fellow Indian pal in English and asked me “Don’t you guys have the same language?” To which, I declined. He protested, saying when we meet friends, we talk to them in Swedish and you? I replied we too talk in Hindi and then realized my mistake. He smiled.
I definitely am nobody to propagate on how one should live their lives either in India or abroad. But then I realized one thing. We are the silent ambassadors of goodwill, culture and diversity when we move out (or maybe even when we are in India). We are quick witted, sweet-tongued, IT geeks, laugh rioters and beautiful. We are the unique cusp of dhoklas, pethas, kadhis, gujias, rosogullas, pakoras , dosas, samosas, momos and varan bhaat. People know and adore Indians for Bollywood, Satya Nadella, Kalpana Chawla, Kiran Bedi, Satyarthi and Sachin Tendulkar. It’s time we respect the awakening and adore each other too while in India or abroad.