Narendra Modi’s speech was captivating. Was it the famous hashtags in social media or the well-crafted ads on television or the glamour of Madison Square, I do not know. Nevertheless, the crowd did go: Bharat mata ki JAI. Patriotism was at its highest in America. In India, we know better, we know the truth.
We know Bharat Natiyam doesn’t look like that, and we sing our national anthem another way. But when in Rome, do as the Romans do, right?
There are a few things that Modi spoke about that I would like to ponder a bit more on.
I am writing this as a sort of a conversational letter to Mr Modi. I may sway off track at times. I apologise for that in advance and I will try my best to avoid discrepancies in the narrative.
I have tried to watch the speeches of your predecessors on Television. I could not understand most of what they were saying because they were speaking in Hindi. I am a South Indian, but I have learnt Hindi for 10 years in school. I do speak Hindi fairly well with my friends, who are currently mostly from UP and Bihar and my mother who is from Bombay.
Having said that, I started watching TV hoping to hear your speech in a language that I understand best, English. Given the media storm your visit has created, I don’t believe I was wrong to expect anything else. I have several friends and cousins and aunts and uncles who are settled in the United States and I can assure you that most of them don’t speak Hindi well enough to understand Bollywood movies without subtitles, let alone your speech. That may be because of their South Indian lineage or their American upbringing, or both.
As one can say that South India is as much a part of North India is, I noticed that your speech conveniently forgot to mention any South Indian state while you were talking about “Bihar se leke Bengal tak”. That offended me.
English may not be an Indian language, but I believe it is a language that binds us Indians together more than Hindi does. You should see how the Tamilians respond to Hindi speaking folk.
You also mentioned that Indians are everywhere in the world. That is sort of true. But I doubt we have as much coverage as the Chinese. But that is not a point I wanted to make. Indians are all over the world. Accepted. But are people from all over the world ready to come and live in India? Second generation Indians living in America don’t want to settle down in India. Indians don’t want to stay in India. Why is that? You will agree with me when I say there are several reasons for that. Which brings me to my next point: cleanliness
I couldn’t agree with you more. The need to not litter should be inculcated in every Indian mindset. We must let go of “Yeh India hai, chalta hai”. No bro, nahi chalta hai. That cigarette butt that you don’t throw on the road, makes the road cleaner, whether you like it or not. And teach your children and friends the same. Lead by example. So what if you have to pick up somebody else’s shit a few dozen times. That shit will decrease eventually. Shame them into making themselves better. The Gandhi way. (I understand that the Gandhi way is subject to interpretation in different ways.)
I was thinking of spreading the idea of stewardship of the public resources. Have billboards and posters in public places showing people how much of it they own, and how much of their money is in it. This may be a small amount, but it is their money.
You spoke very highly of Mahatma Gandhi. You did make a mistake once, you called him Mohanlal Karamchand Gandhi instead of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. That’s alright, sir. Everybody makes mistakes. We understand. But when you took the sacrifices of our revolutionists as disposable, recyclable deaths, you were gravely unjust to them, sir. We cannot all dwell in what if’s and many hot-blooded youngsters criticise Mahatma Gandhiji for his non-violent approach. I neither agree nor disagree with them. I believe everyone had their own part to play and things would have turned out differently if we erased anybody’s input in the struggle for our independence. I hope you will take special care to not belittle peoples’ efforts in the future, sir.
Thank you for your time.
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How important is it to record information during your internship?
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We leave the for the end. And the little little pieces of shit you promise yourself you’ll clean up later become a ginormous pile of daunting work.
On my second sleepless night, with my laptop running 18 hours everyday, I dont know how long it will be before my baby succumbeth to the stress. I am pumped up on coffee and incomprehensible french songs (parallel note on the coffee:the beans, like Ernst Hemingway had them, not like the CCD-frequenting ‘artists’ of this generation)
I have read about people being so tired they’ve slept for days. I think if I sleep now, I shall wake up only on Monday. And that thought scares me enough to keep me awake(that, and the coffee)
I solemnly swear to do my work on time.
Yeah, I know I shall be doing it again soon enough. Kutte ki dum and all that