India is just not a nation but also an emotion that may exist even among the people with Caucasian ethnicity or a non Indian race. Otherwise how do you explain the ‘gerua clad and ash smeared Hippies’ dancing on psychedelic trance puffing on a chillum at Kashi ghats, the firangs wandering aimlessly around Ellora caves to introspect the inner self, the hordes of Nirvana seekers making drum circles at Hampi, the saree and dhoti clad whites brooming at Vrindavan temples devoting themselves to Lord Krishna, the Americans seeking spirituality from the traditional vibes of tranquil Pushkar or the French travellers igniting their collective consciousness putting their faith in internal yoga at Matrimandir Auroville?
Being Indian is just not the virtue of birth but it’s about holding Indian essence that may exist anywhere in the world!
Indians have always been a global population and embraced the best of rest of the world. How do you think each state here in this country has its own language, traditions or identity? The credulous Indian ceremonies hold the essence of hundreds of races and their cultures who migrated to this magnanimous country.
The beats of Punjabi Bhangra, The meditative approach of Yoga, the crispiness of a south Indian Dosa or the family melodrama of a Mumbai masala movie are not confined to the walls of exclusive Indianness but they are more global now with the world embracing the best of Indian ways of living and thinking.
Indian way of thinking is more global now or global way of thinking is more Indian now. In Fact they both overlap!
We are the citizen of this world and the comforts of our desi homes can be cherished anywhere in the world even while flying at 36000 ft high in the sky? You don’t believe me? The star alliance airlines like Lufthansa fly all over the world reaching every continent on this planet with more Indianness than you can imagine. The ‘Bhartiyata’ at long haul flights while flying over European continents (or anywhere) would not only warm up your heart but also keep away the nostalgia of being away from home. The aroma of indian spices would still linger onto your meal platter just like back home,the bollywood masala movies would still make you cry and laugh hysterically like you do at the comfort of your couches or the friendliness of the familiar Indian crew members who believe in ‘Atithi Devo Bhavo’ would feel so much home.
The Indian ideologies,values and culture have engulfed the world with its simplicity creating a home away from home which is more Indian than we could possibly imagine.
I remember when I was on a family tour with my mom to Paris,France where my brother lives. The city of love where romance,art and Parisian lifestyle combine. The paintings of Picasso,the smiling mystery of Mona Lisa, the designer boutiques, the criss crossed Boulevards, the sidewalk cafes along the River Seine or the starry eyed lovers strolling around Eiffel Tower create a canvas on which memories can be painted naturally. The kind of city which will moisten your eyes and warm up your heart savouring over the nostalgia of your own lands. And what better airlines than Lufthansa which caters to our sentimental Indian souls with its vividness and Indianness. So I booked the tickets from their website http://www.moreindianthanyouthink.com/ for this exciting trip.
So anyway with three heavy suitcases which carried beachwear to my flip flops to Haldiram savouries to a nine yard saree to essentially everything that was marked important for my ten day tour there. My mum was nervous and excited both at the same time which was eased out soon when a pretty Indian air hostess smiled warmly and said ‘Namaste‘ to her. The cosyness of the seats and warm friendly faces around mingling with the passengers made me heave a sigh of relief that hopefully this long arduous journey to foreign lands won’t be so much trouble to my Mom afterall who was already nostalgic.
The airplane was bubbling with so many activities around. The friendly air hostesses were serving drinks and catering to other needs of the passengers. A few passengers were busy watching the bollywood movies or listening songs over the seat pods and a few were moving around adjusting their hand luggages with the help of flight attendants.Usual flight scenes!
I smiled and closed my eyes for a much needed nap once the flight took off. When I got up I saw my mom chit chatting with a fellow passenger which was so usual to her. Meanwhile the air hostess served us with hot delicious food according to our veg preferences. My mom shrieked with happiness when she actually saw paneer butter masala and steamed rice on her platter along with other Indian savouries. I mean she actually did not expect it relishing the rich taste of her Punjabi cuisines flying over clouds.
So far so good! What relief! My mum was actually happy.
There were lot of foreigners of different age groups on the plane and the seats just beside us were occupied by a French Family with a 5 year old kid who was very fussy about things. Her mum was trying her best to calm him down but a quiet long journey was too much to ask from a five year old. Kids are meant to be naugthy, bubbly,playing around and throwing things after all (at least by Indian contexts). The lovely air hostesses intervened twice and offered him candies and toys but it was all in vain.He kept on throwing his tantrums consistently. A few fellow passengers were throwing nasty expressions and the parents were returning embarrassing smiles to all of us now and then.
My mom could not take it any longer and requested me to talk to them that she will take care of the kid. I tried to communicate with them in English regarding it but they looked perplexed by my language and gestures towards the kid. As I was pointing out towards the kid with a gesture to send him over to our seat which they thought the other way and started rebuking the poor kid in French some more. After a few more hopeless attempts I gave up and put on my ipod carelessly. One air hostess approached my mom and asked if there was something she could do to help her.
She said “Beta agar wo uss bacche ko yaha bhej denge to mai usko acche se dekh lungi.”
She nodded and turned towards them and translated everything in French to them. The helpless couple beamed like 100 watt bulbs and gave us super broad smiles. Afterall nothing could be as thrilling as offering a generous babysitting to any traumatised parents. The kid was also bored stuck into his seat and happily jumped out of his seat. My mother took him to her lap and hummed in a few age old loris right from ‘La La La La Lori’ to ‘Lakdi ki Kathi’ with various gestures and signs very affectionately. Soon they were making faces, laughing their hearts out and the parents could actually take a nap comfortably leaving their kid with my mom and attentive airhostesses at the comforts of the flight. The people around were smiling now and finally the flight attendants could heave a sigh of relief.
The French couple was astonished by our ease and comfort through which we could easily make friends with an irritated kid who was not even familiar with our language. He was not even willing to let go off my mom once flight landed to the Charles de Gaulle Airport at Paris. The lady even said that they are so glad that their kid could actually get to spend so much time with my mom just as he enjoys it with his grandparents but considering their busy schedule they don’t get to meet them very often. She also requested my mom to send some lullabies and poems over emails.
My mom laughed it out saying these lullabies are passed over generations in India and can not be sent over emails. The essence of these lullabies which make them special is in the family bonding and time that we spend with each other.
I have been a convent educated corporate woman throughout and I actually never had time to take pride in our Indianness. And I got this most amazing lesson about our own identity and culture which made me stand proud and special among the people who were not Indian but surely appreciated the essence of being an Indian and absorbed quintessential Indian ethos from us with all their open hearts.
The warmth that we posses to our neighbours,the smiles that are thrown even to the strangers, the narrowed eyes and furrowed brows that are used even for a disaster on foreign lands, the food is meant to be shared with friends and family,the crazy ceremonies where we dance even without invitations, the hugs that are offered to unknown people, the welcomeness that we offer to our guests and all such other special things which can not be described in words make us truly distinct as a country and people.
Our values teach us to be welcoming even to our enemies and provide them the best we can offer. Our culture believe in ‘Vasudev Kutumbkam’ or world is our family phenomena which allow us to see the pains and problems of the people beyond the boundaries of our nation and consider them our own family members. We are an extremely warm,friendly and fun loving country that believe in holidays,taking vacations,travelling but all with family and friends. Our ideologies teach us to meditate ourselves and control our senses and improve ourselves rather than controlling others preferences. Our roots lies in ancient civilisations and we are still prevailing. It talk about our ethos and values which have been accepted by the world centuries after centuries.
We are an incredible country and people something that reminds me of this superb Lufthansa TVC #MoreIndianThanYouThink. It’s hilarious,remarkable and meaningful just like the Lufthansa Airlines itself.