Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mera Bharat Mahaan?

Myself Mrs. Ramesh

What is the level of your education

How long have you been married … why no kids yet?

Myself Mrs. Das

Our hujhbands work for the embassy. She works!

It is so hard to find girl children especially for ashtami pooja … of course not everyone is unfortunate like us to have 2 girls!

I tell you India has become disgusting … boys and girls are living together without getting married … they say that they are friends … horrible I tell you!

Just some of the pearls of communication that we were fortunate to experience …

And Just NOT what we expected to encounter on 15th August – 10a.m. - @the flag hoisting ceremony at the Indian Embassy in Luanda. Sure we went to the ‘event’ with a lot of excitement and energy … excitement at going to apna des … excitement in meeting with our own people … oh how hard we fell! (Soumya more than me …)

Picture about 25 people … scratch that – about 25 men standing around … in groups of 2-3 … chatting among themselves and greeting everyone with the customary Indian smile …NOT! No smiles here …

We waited for a few minutes in odd silence … Soumya feeling kinda awkward … all the men huddled together and all …

The lone music-system started to feebly play some patriotic song and lo behold … a group of women appear from nowhere to witness the flag hoisting …
One second Soumya was standing by herself and shazaam! – this group of women walks out of the house (the embassy is a house!) and almost runs over Soumya … eager to view the flag or whatever other reason they had to be in front!

The ceremony was held in mind-numbing tradition

- men and women in neat separate groups standing 6 feet apart

- no one was smiling

- The “head” of the embassy gave a soulful speech! Sigh … he read out 4 lines from the Presidents speech and then … just shut up! He pretty much read out 4 lines verbatim!!! No excitement here!

- The crumbly flag was opened … there was clapping … and after precisely 73 seconds of subsequent awkward silence … everybody dashed towards the refreshments – cheap cake and wafers …

- Of course - the women picked up their paper plates and went inside the house while the men ate outside … silently ...

My conversation outside went like –

“Where are you from” … “What do you do?” … “Weather is nice no?” … “This country has seen a lot of war … ” … with generous (and awkward) pauses in between

Granted most of these men were oldish folks – in their late 40s or 50s maybe … but not one of them exuded an iota of intelligence … like someone later observed – they just seemed to be in Angola with the sole hope of being transferred later to the UK- where they could make more money and retire … nevermind that most of them did not even speak English or anything intelligent!(in no particular order)


Of course while I was standing in excruciating pain … wishing that all this was a dream and that India is a great country and that all Indians are not like this … poor Soumya had to experience the rude and discriminatory behavior of the womenfolk …

and of course all this while being given a strict visual examination …

Seriously – I always believed that Bombay was not representative of the rest of India – especially of all the small towns in UP and Bihar from where these folks came … or any other small town for that matter … but the narrow mindedness is just plain unforgivable …

Soumya has a good argument - folks from her extended family are from small towns, and yet they exude a certain class … at least they aren’t outright rude or discriminatory!

I know for a fact that we (most agnelites) grew up in a different society – a more open society … heck I had trouble adjusting to the narrow mindedness of folks I encountered in Bangalore

Then again … am I so removed from the rest of the Indians? Has the international ‘exposure’ spoilt me …

Sure you can pull someone fom the plains of rural Texas or Alabama and you would see similar ‘frog in the well’ attitudes … so I guess Indians are not exempt … still … its sad to have such experiences when you don’t want to associate with the 7 odd Indians in Luanda!

Mera Bharat Mahaan – for whatever its worth.

And oh - thanks to Anu (and santa-banta) for these images ... pretty much the only positive thing!