Monday, February 28, 2011

Incredible India...

...Read the heading on a customs form passengers got to fill on the Air India flight.I don't know what annoyed me more- this attempt at advertisement on an official document or that the printing on the said document was smudged and blurry. A customs forms is serious business; you want people to take it in that spirit and not be put off by touristy hard-selling. And you certainly don't want first timers to the country to get a taste of the 'chalta hai' attitude on the flight itself. Please get good, legible prints, for God's sake!

Anyway, apart from this minor incident (to which I am over-reacting but I am wired that way), I had a pleasant journey and am enjoying being back in mera bharat. None of the things I was warned about caused me any worry. I bore the crazy Mumbai traffic with Buddha-like calm. As for the dust- well, it can always be dusted. I have specially welcomed the return to creature comforts like house-help and home parlours and mum-cooked meals. And I am quite relieved to not stick out like a very brown thumb in a crowd :P

No, the reverse-culture shock has come from another quarters. Just a few months of dealing with an efficient system has further sensitized me to all that we aren't. Even people from smaller, modest countries manage to score over us where professionalism is concerned (yes, even Mexico!) The problem seems to be because we are an extremely patient and tolerant race. Where else could it take over two years to hang a terrorist caught in the act? Where else would it take the country's central investigative agency so much time to come up with proofs in gruesome crimes very much in the public eye? And where else would a chief minister dare to get away with corruption claiming that his predecessors were corrupt too! Even the smallest of chores like dealing with the tailor or getting your personal system repaired have to be accompanied with a certain amount of haranguing.

Back home, people have wanted to know how it was to live in 'Amreeka'. After listening wide-eyed to my winter woes, they have all ubiquitously proclaimed India as the best place to live in any day! While I wanted nothing more than to agree with them wholeheartedly, I kept being troubled by the other comparisons.

While the government definitely needs a sharp kick in the pants, the masses also need to shake off their complacency. I am a proud Indian. Just like many of you out there. We might be living abroad but we yearn to be back. While we might lack the time or inclination or means to stage protests or fight elections, here is the least we can do: we have the power to demand- prompt action, good service and explanations for the lack of these too. And we need to use it. Our capacity for making do/adjusting is indeed incredible! Please adjust maadi no more!