Saturday, June 14, 2008

The Indian Image...


During the gruelling journey back to Lucknow (details in another post), I was thinking to myself "When I have a opinion of the Amreicans and the Europeans as such, I must know what they feel about Indians too, right?" Well, my "prayers" were answered, and in the most bizarre fashion!

Article on Mail Online (Click to view)

GDP above 9%? REALLY?

Great culture and glory? MAY BE, THATS'W WHAT I HEARD...

Job-takers? TO A GOOD EXTENT...

People from the land of the Kamasutra? OF COURSE !

Dirty? HELL YEAH !!!

Well, that's what we are to them - dirty, filthy people who have scant regard for our own surroundings. Wow, nice image to maintain, eh? How would you (or me for the record) like to be stereotyped as a person who leaves garbage wherever he/she goes?

Stereotypes are common as they help us create a certain image of a person from a particular society. They are usually good hunches for first impressions, but not when applied to individuals (as told by HR). But Ms. Lucy (ya for the lack of a better prefix) stereotyped the entire group - Excellent... A few years ago I would have cried out "Racist! Racist! Racist!". But not today...

Lucy Ivimy: "I know that in India throwing rubbish out of a window and total disregard for the cleanliness of a public area is normal behaviour and I dare say a number would change behaviour if firmly told that in London this is not acceptable behaviour."

I don't see any racism in her statement. (Funny, right?) Isn't this what we associate ourselves with in India? Don't we have atleast 10 TV shows that make fun of this very aspect of Indians - that we throw thrash anywhere and everywhere, especially directy from our buildings? Is it not our so-called "normal behaviour"?

I know the truth hurts, and perhaps the Indians in UK were not throwing trash around like us here. And by us, I don't mean only you and me, but I am including all the people who indeed do this - and it is indeed a large number. We do it in several subtle ways too - we spit on the roads, throw small items out of the trains (without any remorse) and rarely use the dustbin, unless prompted otherwise.

Lemme give you a example about how I personally witnessed a change in myself because of this effect. When I was in the US, I got into the habit to throwimg everything undesirable into the trash, even a small piece of paper. The place was so neat that I didn't dare to the first to actually litter such a place. But the habit stuck on. When I was coming back to Lucknow from Hyderabad, I didn't throw anything on the platform or out of the running train - all trash went into the trash can located below the sink of the compartment (Any designers listening?). And believe it or not - my berth was in the middle of the compartment, emaning I had to walk a fair distance for my weight each time. But I did it, because I was conscious of what I was doing.

We litter because we see others litter. It is as normal a behavior as copying in exams and as doing a degree for the sake of the degree and not the education value. It is ingrained into us. Many people see their parents do it, see some a few other folks do it and then fall into the cycle as everyone else. We do it because "everybody is doing it" (pickup line for Marijuana).

I hope atleast some of us change. Afterall, positive change s not as infectious and fast spreading as negativity, but hey, it is a start. I am going to try and prove Ms. Lucy wrong and the I can prove her to be a racist. I hope some of you do the same, atleast for the sake of labelling her as a true racist.


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