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Study life, study literature. Eat food. Lots of it.
Also, I use a lot of adjectives- working on that, so bear with me.

Monday, 17 June 2013

Reflections on a Jet Plane, Mostly.

It's been a while, isn't it? Lets just say, real life has seriously been an irritant in the path of my blogging pursuits. For those of you who may not know, I've been on holiday, and the moment I came back into town, I've been plunged into tons of work for my college. Anyway, excuses aside, I kept wondering all these days what my next blog post should be about. The sights and sounds of my unbelievably amazing holiday? The problems of working 14 hour days immediately after a holiday? The experiences of heading the admission process of your college?

In the end, I kept coming back to my holiday. Now I don't mean to make you jealous, but as a very generous birthday gift from my parents and my sister, I got to spend 10 days with them in the United Kingdom. Having spent some time in Edinburgh and London, I knew that I could spend days just writing about my experiences there. However, the idea of an ordinary travelogue-ish blog post did not appeal to me much. The one thing that kept bouncing around in my head after I returned was the constant comparisons that I kept making between their people and ours, their culture and ours, their behaviour and ours. In no way do I mean to create a divide, nor do I mean to sound racist. But, the differences are very obvious, and not in a really good way.

I'm making a generalization, but the people of UK, not just the English, seem to be far more happy than most of us. This happiness isn't just in their own lives, but in the way they treat others- friends, colleagues, random strangers on the road, tourists.  Maybe its the weather, maybe its their infrastructure or maybe its just the great food and alcohol, but the people are much nicer than most people we come across everyday over here. Every one has a smile on their face, no matter how tired they are. Even a bus driver late at night wishes you a good evening when you get off, and when you run into someone else's shopping cart at the grocery store, they turn and apologize, even though they don't need to. In India, you and I will probably just mutter under our breath and turn away.

Call me a cynic with a major case of the Greener Grass on the Other Side Syndrome, but there's more. During dinner at a restaurant in Edinburgh, we forgot my sister's rather expensive camera in the restaurant, and we realised this later when we were back in the hotel room. After much panicking, we found the bill and called the restaurant, and to our surprise, they immediately told us that they'd found it and kept it safe, and that they'd stay open longer if we wanted to come and pick it up immediately. In another instance, my father lost an important document at the Tower of London; one which he would have needed for the rest of the trip. A while later, when I went to the guard's cabin to ask for help, he handed me the document with a smile on his face saying that someone had found it and had returned it to them, when they very well could have earned easily a hundred pounds simply by using it themselves!
On the contrary, when I landed in India, on the Mumbai International Airport, I found someone's thick woolen jacket on one of the chairs, with no one else in sight. Having experienced the agony of losing something necessary and the joy of finding it again, I picked it up and carried it to a nearby counter to give it to the airport support staff. They seemed least interested, and if that wasn't enough, one of the gentlemen standing around had the gall to scream at me,"Leave it yaar, why are so worried? Bhaad mein jaaye." So much for trying to be helpful.

Again, I'm not one of those foreign-return tourists who can only find faults with everything we do. I understand the limitations of the opinions I form from a mere ten days there. That doesn't mean that our faults don't actually exist. Both you and I need to wake up from our reticence, and stop being hypocrites who go on about our polite and welcoming culture all while breeding intolerance and unease. Lets learn a lesson or two from others as well, shall we? 

15 comments:

  1. We indeed have much to learn from other nations, or should I say cultures?
    Brotherhood, respect & helpfulness should definitely mean more than just words in the Oxford Dictionary (which is again British)... ;)

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    1. I understand now why they're important words in a British dictionary now, very well :P

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  2. And over here we find people who are concerned about the neighbours children, somebody's relationship status and what not. But they don't care about what is necessary. I guess people here (just an opinion)aren't really genuine. And people who care about things that matter aren't really taken seriously!
    Really nice post. I'd die if I lost my camera :P

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    1. I agree with you!
      Thanks, and yep, I almost had a stroke as well.

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  3. :) Glad that you picked the best bits Farheen. Not sure if you actually suffer from GIGOOS or not, but there's a ring of truth to your observations. As a culture and a people, the British are more conscious of their actions, their environment, their behaviour and there are many things to learn from that kind of awareness. Politeness is as much a virtue as it can be a bane.

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  4. I do agree that we have our own share of faults! But then we also have to look for the reasons which gave birth to them because historically we aren't the race known for our ignorance and intolerance.
    We were plundered by the nomadic,barbaric tribes of the East and central Asia during the ancient times. We were invaded and ruled by the Moguls for centuries. we were raised under the colonial rule of the Great Britain. and now when we got our sovereignty back, we have 1.2 billion people to feed and shelter as well as nourish and nurture them.
    So under these circumstances that we have been through and going through till now, isn't it natural for us to be ignorant, intolerant and hypocrites? What do you say??

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    1. Thank you for making the effort to write that lengthy comment, that matters a lot :)
      As for the my view on that, I understand that as a society, we've been put through a lot. But no society in the world was created without its share of troubles. That doesn't mean everyone in the world became bitter.

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  5. Yes i agree that every society has been through troubles and evolution. but here you are making comparisons between two cultures- one of which has always been the ruler and the other always been the ruled. That is quite unfair, i guess.
    I bet you will find us better when compared to the Africas or the Arabian counties..as a matter of fact!

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    1. I don't entirely think its unfair. The comparison is drastic yes, but in the little time that I spent there, it stood out as glaringly obvious. As for the other point, maybe our people are better than Africa, I wouldn't know. The point still is that just because your nation has been through something in its collective past, doesn't allow them life long bad behaviour. And even if it did, should it be towards each other as well? Its not even the ruler and the ruled, even the ruled are hell bent on destroying each other.

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    2. I disagree that we are self destructing ourselves. Due to the sufferings from our collective past a couple of generation has been raised to be ignorant. But now we are changing. The new generation is evolving. The fact that YOU cared to picked up that jacket itself proves it.
      A society which has lived through such gradual depravity, it will take time to change. Change is inevitable. Change has began. We are the change.
      Lets be patient!:)

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  6. hmmm... it is not that every thing in India is bad and every one is bad. There are more such isolated incidents in India. And yes, we need to learn a lot from others.

    What liked me most is your helping attitude... we should do our bit, gandhigiri hi sahi :)

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  7. This is directly related to economy !! Culture is effected by Economy.. A rich Indian is polished .. while a slum guy is not..
    and the Middle Class is opportunist.
    Wherever the Middle Class can lead a comfortable life or in other words ... a developed country is happier in general.
    In India,wealth is unevenly distributed.
    Dishonesty is a bi-product of poverty!
    Thats why England and India are different.. so much ! :)

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  8. An outsiders perspective of India
    "That is how they manage to live together, a billion of them, in reasonable peace. They are not perfect, ofcourse. They know how to fight and lie and cheat each other and all the things that all of us do. But more than any other people in the world, the Indians know how to love one another. India is about six times the size of France but it has almost twenty times the population. Twenty times! Believe me, if there were a billion Frenchmen living in such a crowded space, there would be rivers of blood. Rivers of blood! And, as everyone knows, we French are the most civilized people in Europe. Indeed, in the whole world. No, no without love, India would be impossible. "
    -an excerpt from Shantaram.
    I hope this helps.

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