There’s no grass on the other side

I’ve often wondered about cultural differences and the role they play in our lives. It does play a big role and it teaches us tolerance. Or even better, teaches us to adapt. I like learning about different cultures and the way people from other countries live. It’s intriguing and also puts the way we live into perspective. Helps us appreciate ours more or maybe even gives us room for improvement. 

But here’s what I don’t get. When people who have the balls to actually comment about other cultures and almost always point the faults out. Here’s a piece of advice to these very opinionated people – your opinion doesn’t make you well-observant, it borders on arrogant and ignorant, and it’s not appreciated at all. 

The thing that bothers me is that how people portray certain cultures. Promoting the idea that people take a dump on the streets or try to make a living selling food from a cart or throw garbage around doesn’t define a culture or the way people live. I live in the same country and I do none of the above. It’s a shame really when they visit a country like India which is rich in it’s own cultural heritage with the diversity in languages, clothes and food, to name a few, they get lost in the cloud learning about it from people who only know what they do from the badly researched articles they read and cliche documentaries they watch made by those who seem to think they know it all. I’d like for them to know two very important things – first, we do not ride around on elephants and second, we all speak English. And it might come as a surprise to them but we speak it very well, perhaps even better than most cultures for whom English is a second language. I don’t think they understand how much is too much. Fine, I understand that it’s too hot and crowded but what are you going to do when you have 1.6 billion people around? 

I’m not writing this just to justify why the country is the way it is. I’m writing this because I’m really miffed by the way that other people perceive the country. And only highlighting what is dirty or broken or incomplete is not what the culture is all about. I’m not just talking about India. This goes for all cultures. Every big city in the world is dirty, crowded, noisy and smelly. It’s how well they cover it up or even so, condition themselves to accept it for what it is. 

I think that it’s great that someone selling food from a cart is trying to make a living. At least they’re not carrying iPhones and living on welfare, or just spending the working man’s tax money and running bills of thousands of dollars in credit card charges and adding to the already mounting national debt. 

What I’m also trying to get them to understand is that every culture is different. And just because it’s different from yours, doesn’t mean yours is better. If there are certain rules or cultural norms that people have just go with it and stop cribbing. Perhaps they have these rules and ‘stupid things’ because it’s the fool-proof way to curb certain behaviour. Yes, it might seem strange but when their country has over a billion and a half people, then maybe they’ll understand why things are a certain way. 

So, here’s what we can do. If we can tolerate other people’s shenanigans, I think they can stop promoting another country as a shit hole. It just goes to show how small minded and ignorant they are. 


Culturally Awkward

What defines a societal culture? Is it progress? Is it the ease to adapt? Is it the willingness to evolve? Or is it defined by the value system that was created centuries ago? Perhaps it could any one of these or all of them or perhaps none. Every culture around the world is unique and different. Countries that share borders may have completely opposite cultures and ways of life. In our Indian culture, I suppose there are a variety of cultures. These days, there is no one culture that can be defined as Indian, but more of a value system of convenience. The people choose the values and morals  that suit their convenience. Not for mere reason but to justify the things they do. Unfortunately, when they do that, they are perceived as hypocrites. It’s very simple to blame things that they don’t agree with to be ‘the influence of the west’. Well excuse for me for pointing it out but this is the land of the Kama Sutra. Somehow over the years, in a modern age, it’s frowned upon or considered to be a sin. And it’s not all about that. It’s just the way of thinking. A repressive society where the voice of reason is just that ‘it is not an Indian thing to do’. 

I never quite understand what they mean by that. It’s okay to arrange the marriage of their offspring to complete strangers based on the family financial background but not to openly date people of their own choosing. That’s not all, it’s unacceptable to show any affection to them. This is exactly why there is an unhealthy outlook towards any sort of physical connection. A wedding in itself is society-approved consummation of the pairing. What a vulgar display of the celebration of love. Not that I’m averse to the idea. In fact I love the idea. I love it especially if it’s because of the love between the two, a sacred bond that they want to celebrate and not the fact that there were two thousand people present to see it. 

So what happens when women are harassed? Whether it’s a nasty look or a long uncomfortable stare, it happens all the time here and no one does anything about it. Are you going to ward them off a hundred times a day, everyday? Well at least we will try to because we have to start somewhere. The first thing that people have the audacity to say is that it was the girl’s fault or it was because of what she was wearing. When I hear that I just automatically categorise them into the ignorant buffoon file. What doe get to me, however, is that most of the time these are the sentiments of women. Yes! From women. There is no solidarity for the sisterhood and no empathy. Of course there are a majority of women who will stand up for you and with you and fight the fight. But when women actually utter these words it’s just appalling and downright disgusting. 

There are certain things that also don’t sit right with me. For instance, when someone tells us that that it’s not in our Indian culture to sit too close to our lover or kiss them in public. I’m all for the reason that perhaps it’s not proper protocol or not correct social decorum. It’s when people justify that it’s not in our culture then that just drives me up the wall. Even more so is when they say not to do certain things because other people take offense to it. Well hello! If it offends you then why look? It’s as simple as putting your fingers into an open flame and then complaining that it’s hot and get your fingers burnt. Everything is G rated. So I’m confused about what exactly are they getting offended by?

I have nothing to really say to these people except the fact that they should open their minds and put their time into the things that do matter. Put their energy into changing the world for the better and not get involved in the lives of those who have no relation to them at all. Well, here’s hoping.