Sunday, November 11, 2012

Bucketing Indians

Note:- I have been on a sabbatical from my blog because I have been happy and occupied. I blog only when I have a lot of time and I don't know what to do with it. :D

This is the story of a corporate dinner that I attended in Essen, Germany. As usual in the morning I went to work at my Netherlands office in 's-Hertogenbosch (I like writing 's-Hertogenbosch instead of Den Bosch :P) but today was not an usual day. I had a train to catch at 14.30 hrs to Essen. I reached just in time and arrived at the venue after everyone else had reached. I was excited to meet people with whom I had interacted only over calls and emails.

The venue was a Spanish Tapas Bar (food was really good). It was a group of about 15 people and I was the only woman in the team. We had a couple of people from our client's side too. Now to give a slight background to the story, there was a team member whose wedding was due in a week and a few others who had just got married. One of the clients (here on referred to as E) was surprised to know that all the marriages were arranged and fixed by the families. E was seated one seat after me and we started to discuss Indians and marriages.

E: "So you are a woman and I would like to know your perspective on arranged marriages. Will you have an arranged marriage too?"
Me: "Probably not. I am dating some one."
E: "Oh! So your parents chose your boy friend?"
Me: <WTF expression> "Obviously not!"
E: "But aren't Indians always supposed to have Arranged marriages?"
Me: "No No. You can't categorize us like that!"

E was quiet for a while as we all sipped our wines and then he said again "So you are a woman and you drink. But you are not married. So you'll quit drinking when you marry?"
Me: "How is marriage and drinking related?"
E: "Half the men in this table stopped drinking after marriage! Indian men don't drink after marriage. Maybe the women can"
Me: "What are trying to do here? Put us in buckets?"
E: "I don't understand India"
Me: "Even half the Indians don't understand the other half."

On my way back to Netherlands, I got a seat beside an Italian (here on referred to as G) who has a shop in Germany where he sells customized wheelchairs. He spoke extremely broken English and we started talking about Indians again.

G: "You are Indian. You drink tea at 5 pm. Indians drink tea at 5 pm"
I wanted to say Indians drink coffee too. But I just smiled. He continued "Indians are very brainy. Indians always work with computers. Indians very brainy."
Well he had that correct! I choose to believe so. I asked him where is he from and what he does.
G: "I come from Ferrari and Lamborghini. I bring technology and design to Germany for the poor and disabled. I make wheel chairs. I too brainy like the Indians, right?"
G: "Indians brainy. Chinese hard working. India - Chinese together -- Rule the world, Rule the world. I think that day is coming, what do you think?"

I couldn't stop giggling. This man believes India could be the next most powerful nation in the world. I wonder how many Indians believe it?

It just made me wonder how differently we are perceived by people outside. It also made me wonder how different each Indian is in his / her outlook of life. Indians can be probably bucketed state wise to some extent. But anyone trying to bucket Indians as a whole will always fail miserably. E was even surprised to know that every state in India has a different language and even different festivals and public holidays.

Cheers to our diversity and Happy Diwali (at least that's a festival celebrated all over India - Diwali bucket :P)

Thursday, May 10, 2012

The Rain and You

The Rain has always been a special visitor for me. Days am sad it seems like the Rain comes to visit me saying “See, the Heaven’s are also sad”. As the skies turn grey and the wind makes the leaves dance, I close my eyes and there you are! Images flash past my eyes like a Kaleidoscope with the touch and smell of days gone by.

That crowded small station and both of us lost in our own ways. You came with the Rain that day, you came as my smile that day. I didn’t know who you were, yet in some way I had a very pleasant 4 hours journey. Sitting in a jam packed compartment under an umbrella and watching the rain make patterns on the window pane, I didn’t know that 6 years down the line, I’ll be missing you every time it rains. The heavens seem to conspire because where I am right now, it rains every day.

That last night on an unknown road, under an unknown tree, the heavens cried in grief as we bid goodbye. I shivered with every drop of rain trickling down me. I was standing on the threshold of change trying to hold onto whatever I had and whatever I could. But I was riding the waves of my life with a foolish big grin.

Few weeks later, it was raining again. I was scared as hell and you calmed me. Later, sitting in a bus and grinning at you across random strangers, who grinned back at me, I couldn’t be happier with my life. The whole city was swathed in rain and thunderstorms and we bid goodbye with promises. Promises that were made to be broken.

Six months later, huge waves washed me onto some unknown shores. Life was never so lost before. I did mistakes I never meant to do. I clung to whatever I could to surface back to the top, to stay afloat, to stop the rain. I did stop the rain cause this time when you came, you came with the Spring. You came back with colours and flowers. I didn’t recognise you that day. The rain was missing you see.

Almost a year later, during the rains, on a lonely seashore, I missed you again. I wanted to hold you close to me again. But I was stuck in the quagmire of my own mistakes. I shouted but you didn’t hear me. I tried to touch you but you didn’t feel it. So I left. Sitting alone in an empty house, miles away from you, as the rain made patterns on my window, I told you again and this time you heard me. The heavens cracked open and showered in joy.

After few months of what could be described as the best months of my life so far, I am miles away from you again. In an empty house, the skies are grey, the leaves are dancing, the rain is drawing images of the past and I am missing you!