Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Familiarity Breeds Contempt

All the times that I have been out of the country, I have noticed this. Desis (as they are popularly known outside india) would hardly give their own country ppl so much a glance. They infact would try to avoid you. I stayed in New York for 3 months , travelling to office and back by the ferry. I would see most of the faces daily, but there would be no sign of recognition in the eyes, no smile even on the lips (let alone eyes)...
By saying this I am not drawing a rigid picture of Indians outside India being cold to their own country folks. For i was contradicted in the most sweet way.
I was in Switzerland recently with my husband. Both of us had almost started to get used to the cold stares of all our fellow countrymen over the few days that we had been there....and then we reached the last leg of our journey-the capital city Bern ...We passed this colorful group of young American girls... admist them we spotted this Indian person ... And as used we were to the fact that he would not respond to any of our overtures, we just passed by him..
We soon forgot about him , when suddenly somebody tapped my husband's shoulder and lo we found him there .... with almost tears in his eyes .... Said "Hindi sunke mein apne aap ko rok nahin paaya" .... His pleasure in seeing and talking to us was soo evident that it touched us so much ... We exchanged details about ourselves. He was on an exchange program for some social service institute. He hailed from a very remote village from rajasthan.
It was then that i felt .... Here was a person who was so much less educated , seen so less of the world , than the so-called modern people ... and here he was feeling so happy to have seen his own folk and making attempts to know all about us .... We , so called "educated" folks ... have a thing or two to learn. The more we grown up the social chain, the knowledge chain, the more we become nuclear and more we retreat into our own shells.
There will be a day when we probably will know none other than our own wives/husbands , parents and kids ...


Inca said...

I agree with you Jo - Our own folks think that they waste their precious energy by widening their lips a li'l bit. Alas! Least they know that a smile is less costly than a scowl.
On the other hand I see a number of Americans smile and say how do you do - He/She could be a complete stranger.
Nowadays my lips refuse to smile on seeing an Indian outside India, fearing there would be no responce. However I give a ready smile that is not once artificial to an unknown American (And believe me I get an equally charming smile)

2 said...

I usually force my smile on such desis - in a sort of "in-your-face" manner, if possible. Being the first to smile sometimes leads to interesting results. I have run into an Amway/Quixtar groupie once, and some one who thought I might have some "green" on me :)