I was the first of two siblings to be born in a love and care filled family of Marwari migrants to the great city of Bombay. Our generations past had never visited what was once called Mumbai. We didn’t greatly participate in the pride of renaming it Mumbai nor the ego of sticking to the name Bombay. We are generally considered to be a practical clan adhering only to what affects us directly and staying close within the community. I believe we are one of few societies left around the world that still enforce community beliefs amongst our children irrespective of how much the world is shifting to a solo existence culture.
Being the only child for the first nine years of my life, I was pampered heavily in the family. My requests were fulfilled as demands and I was guarded from the outside world in safety as well as exposure. This came to a sweeping change with my decision to pursue studies abroad. For someone who hadn’t traveled beyond the East-West school ride of a single suburb of Mumbai, seven seas away United States was a distant prospective. While safety was still paramount for the family and guarded with the presence of relatives in my US state of study, the exposure was something that couldn’t be guarded anymore.
Almost a decade later, spent more abroad than home, the return to India was mesmerizing to say the least. While some attributed the return to Pride in India, others claimed the unmatched luxury available here to be the reason. Single chain of thoughts dismayed the punishing lack of civility in traffic while cherishing the spice filled Pani Puris as unparalleled to any cuisine available around the world. I came to realize the generalization of thoughts and the fascination of the Indian masses to follow them. Everyone had the same reasons to be proud of India and the same complaints to follow. Every emotion was reducible to an image share on facebook or a well phrased ‘forward’ on Whatsapp.
Exuberated by the introduction of social media, our mass following culture took to new heights leaving behind the political gatherings of the illiterate and encompassing an all billion populous to voice short lived, short felt single emotions. Pockets of collective rage against the current media chosen topic (Celebrity jailed, Rapist punished, Politicians exposed) sprinkled with moments of pride during colorful festivals, Gandhiji’s birthday, or simply while enjoying a vada pav with a friend became the norm.
Yes, I am proud. I am proud not in a measure of comparing India to any other country in the world as one does not compare apples and oranges. I am proud of how a country uniquely survives managing the most diverse and dense populous of the world and still find moments of collective pride. I am proud of a country that widely adapts a language introduced merely 200 years ago in a 2000 year history while preserving the existence of the hundreds of languages from times past. I am proud of how a country’s collective rage still has the power to sway the direction of the country and result those in power also to atone for their crimes.
I was born Agarwal, which is a sub-caste of Marwari, which is a sub-caste of Hindu, in Rajasthan, which is a state in India, which is a country in Asia, which is a continent on Earth to grandparents who would probably exclaim that I have married out of clan if I marry an Agarwal from southern Rajasthan. I am proud that our generation is bridging the gaps in bringing the world closer and hopeful that citizens of Mother Earth will learn to co-exist in peace, harmony and the rightful pride of being Human.