Poison Pen

don't worry, she doesn't bite anymore.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

unpatriotic me?

having banished my pesky brother back to the midwest, my computer is free and i now have more time to surf. mainly news sites (and blogs, of course)

so i glanced on this in the telegraph. just reading through it made me angry. no, not angry really but exasperated. i just felt like screaming out 'enough already!'. i have seen things like this first hand, but after spending 3 years in the US, and just seeing how things are run here, i am much less tolerant about such behavior than i used to be. i am ashamed to admit now that there was a time when a month of no classes was greeted by happiness and not regret. arnab explains this very well.

and its not just calcutta i am frustrated by. blog-friend hemangini wrote about a traumatic train journey to chennai. reading the comments i see that every woman who grew up in india has her own little story to add on to it, her own little moment of helplessness and disgust, and sometimes even shame, even though she had done nothing to be ashamed of.

again, i think of my life over the last 3 years. of being able to travel in a train without feeling like i need a bath everytime i get off. of policemen who are truly there for your protection, and of men who know exactly where they get off.

and thats not all. theres a girl who gets raped in marine drive, and a college principal who blames everything on 'skimpy' clothes, and a blogger who things all this is somehow good. everytime i read the indian papers i see something that makes me angry at my countrymen. that makes me fill up with a feeling of hopelessness that theres nothing anyone can do. and over time i feel resignation. almost like i am disconnected from that world, and that they can go to hell for all i care.

this really scares me because deep down i feel prooud to be indian. but am i really? in three years i will have spent more of my life in the usa than in india. and i like the usa. i like its safety and comforts. i like living my life at my pace. but most of all i like living in a country that takes care of me. i know its selfish, and i know what jfk said, but i'm sorry. today i feel i owe more to the usa than to india, even though it is my homeland. and its even sadder because when i came here, i genuinely wanted to go back in a few years, because india was home. i dont genuinely want that anymore.

i know most of you will agree. you will say that these are material things. ties to the homeland are stronger than that. i agree, but i value these material things. here i have work, resources, friends, independence, security and comfort. there i have only patriotism. i dont think its enough.


  • At 9:06 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    "today i feel i owe more to the usa than to india, even though it is my homeland"

    the way i look at it is - since people like you (and I) have experienced America, we should think about and make a genuine effort to push India in that direction. the comforts and the security should only make one's resolve to go back and a difference stronger.

    Sorry for sounding so preachy

    Ankur (Cambridge, MA)

  • At 1:28 PM, Blogger thalassa_mikra said…

    Vish, let me comment separately on the two sections of your post.

    About the sexual harassment faced by Indian women in public places, I feel that there are a few things that would gradually address the problem:
    1. Greater gender equality in general, as well as greater public presence of women
    2. Proper implementation of law as an effective deterrent.
    3. Greater sexual awareness and freedom, less repressiveness.

    As for patriotism, I think we need a more sophisticated an nuanced idea of it. Being critical of your homeland is not being less patriotic, it is caring enough to speak out. And honestly in today's world of diasporas and global gypsies, we necessarily have multiple loyalties and identities. To love America is not to not love India. This is not an "either-this-or-that" choice.

  • At 5:26 AM, Blogger Apoplexy said…

    so much for a country built on genocide and nourished by genocidal blood.
    this is the country with the most skewed prison population ratio among ethnic groups..and of course, the country with the largest proportion of its populace in prison.no wonder, you feel safe.but for many, the question is am I next?
    think abt it.

  • At 10:59 PM, Blogger J. Alfred Prufrock said…

    Countries are artificial constructs. Especially our country.

    Do we owe loyalty to a society? A culture? I felt very alien in the USA, one of the main reasons why I chucked it up and came back. No regrets.

    Security is a major issue. The rules are much more evenly implemented over there. Even for those who make the rules.

    But - social security is higher here. The state doesn't give a damn for you, but the same fat-assed babu who demands a bribe when you visit his counter will feed you and help you if you're his neighbour. Not in Suburbia, USA. At least not in my experience.


  • At 6:34 AM, Blogger Dusty said…

    Hi, I landed here through a link on Mang's blog. You spoke about security. Does USA offer more security to women than India? Would Mangs' case be treated differently in USA? Would people come to someone's protection if they were being sexually harassed? Lots of questions. Friends in NY tell me, that it is as scary a place at night, as say travelling alone in Mumbai, India. Perhaps you can shed some light on this.

  • At 5:08 AM, Blogger Apoplexy said…

    Mumbai and New York.Great.Doesnt that comparison tell you more baout the Western ethos of Mumbai.The most violent and woman abusing news come from the most westernized city..there is a pointer there.
    By the way, USA has the highest gun crime in the world, highest prison population( yes more than China IN PERCENTAGE TERMS) and absolutely no social security( tho everybody has a card..lol..lol).It is the ONLY industrialized nation with no gun control and no universal health care .So much for the apologists for thsi system and those of you who after experiencing this would try to turn India to that direction.You have opposition back home here...we will give a tooth and nail fight to any such molestation.

  • At 6:46 AM, Blogger Mr. Quipster said…

    all sorts of people everywhere girl!...yes there is so much that could be better in india...but same is the case with US...just that its for different things. everytime i am in US i feel like going back to India cos all said and done...you will always be an 'outsider'. and someday it ll hit me right between the eyes...thats what scares me.


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