Monday, July 07, 2008

Irreconcilable differences..?

As I'm completely uninspired to do anything else, I might as well write a few words...

I'm reading Midnight's Children by Salman Rushdie, partly because of the Indian people I know... There's an air of humility and depth around (most) Indian people, even the most intelligent (maybe because they are so intelligent), something I find endearing and easy to relate to.

But the book itself is not our topic now, I'm sure I'll write about it later. An Indian friend of mine opened a random page the other day, and started picking out random names and explaining them: "Filmfare is the equivalent of People magazine, Polly Umrigar is a very attractive actress and so and so many people live in Kerala of which so and so many live under $2 a day..."

My other friend, who has read the book himself, said that we foreigners can make out things as we read along. I wasn't that optimistic, remembering the times I wondered how a foreigner could appreciate an Orhan Pamuk book fully.

At least we don't know what we are missing.

The next day, we went to a karaoke place with my Indian friend and his friends. Karaoke (an experience like no other - hearing your own horrible trembling singing voice, it's like seeing yourself naked from outside) deserves its own post, which will come soon. At one point they started talking about social networking events that are exclusive to South Asians. I asked whether they would date non-Indians. One of them said issues arise when they do. The other one questioned the rationale behind that, pointing out that Sikh men can be annoying, and everyone else can be quite nice.

There are some truths that are common to everyone. That's what makes a good book a good book - universally. That's what will make me like Midnight's Children, and an Indian like Orhan Pamuk. Because deep down, we are similar.

But we are also different, and the importance of this difference is hard to rationalise. That feeling of recognition when you hear music, when you see a gesture, when you go to a place, the landscape, when someone talks about something you both know, even a TV show, a celebrity, a politician. An inside joke. Those names. Specifics.

These differences enrich our lives, and we try to hang on to them. Smells, sounds, tastes, the sunlight and the colors, there is only one home. It's irrational. Like love. Belonging can only be justified by differences.

But then, I have lived in a few places, and I miss them, too. With time and knowledge one can make a new home...

Would we be missing anything?

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