Just yesterday, I realized I am blissfully oblivious and unaware of my local surroundings, while being quite aware of national news and even more profoundly cognizant of International Developments, and Global News. I observed a strange detachment from my actual reality of my surroundings from the escapism of pop-culture and the refuge of cyber-world that I spend so much of my time in.
It got me thinking into the question of what it means to be an “Indian” in a world of ultra-globalization – where News, Memes, and Information spreads faster from one corner of the world to another, much more than events in one’s own locality/region. It got me thinking on the national crisis of identity that all of us suffer, certainly in India, and I am sure across many parts of the world. Like people in other parts of the world, Indians too are in the throws of a conflicting cultural identity crisis – the entertainment, pop-culture and lifestyle we aspire to (especially the young generation) is distinctly Western/Global in flavor, and we have to reconcile that with our “Indian-ness” or lack thereof, all while living in the chaotic and colorful madness of epic proportions that is India. And then I came up with some random points of cultural satire – the explanation of Indian Identities by a satirical sketch of several terms used by the Indian Govt. (and some invented by me) to categorize various types and flavors of Indians living in India and abroad. So here goes …
- N.R.I. (Non Resident Indian) – An Indian at heart residing abroad, typically in the Western Hemisphere (especially US, UK, Canada, Australia), who despite staying abroad, streams the latest Roadies episode or judiciously catches the latest Indian Movies at Cinemas, or reads T.O.I. and Indian Express online, more than global news. And in general expresses a nostalgic yearning for all things Indian, while being a tax-payer for the likes of Uncle Sam.
- N.I.R. (Non Indian Resident) – An Indian who’s American/Global at heart, finding himself/herself unfortunately residing in India. They watch the latest episodes of Breaking Bad and Homeland with baited breath, and read NYTimes, WaPost, Guardian, Mashable/Gizmodo, Time/Forbes etc. much more than Indian news. They would tend to master the Electric Guitar more than the Sitar, and the Keyboard more than the Harmonium. And in general express a restless longing to leave their country and migrate abroad to Western pastures, and all the hedonistic individual/cultural freedom and financial/social stature it brings along.
- N.R.N.I. (Non Resident Non Indian) – An Indian who’s American/Global at heart and has managed to strike personal jackpot by getting to reside abroad, in the western hemisphere, where he/she finds comfort and resonance. Has a Netflix/Hulu/Amazon Instant Video account, and consumes copious amounts of American/Western pop-culture and entertainment. Interacts with the Yanks and the Brits as if they have always been the best of pals, coming from the same backgrounds. Chats about Chicago’s Jazz scene and NY’s art scene with their Western friends, while glossing over or judiciously avoiding serious topics on India (like Naxalism or Dowry, etc.)
- R.I. (Resident Indian) – The only person who can justifiably claim to be 100% Indian. Residing in India, and heart, body and soul belonging there. They tend to master the Mridangam or the Tabla, or perhaps even the Sitar, much more than than Rock-Drums or Guitars. They also tend to be fluent in several Indian languages, at least in speech with a good knowledge of local dialects and diverse inflections/intonations. They are quite in synergy with their local surroundings, citizen concerns, National News/Politics and are well embedded into the Indian Cultural and Social Fabric.
- P.I.O. (Person of Indian Origin) – The result of any of the following conversions (in descending order of likelihood and desperation):
- NIR –> NRNI
- RI –> NRI
- RI –> NRNI
- RI –> NIR
- NIR –> NRI
- NIR –> RI
Conclusion: It’s easier to lose the “Indian” Trait (if there is such a thing anymore) in favor of the Non-Indian trait. The identity crisis of this generation shall continue! 😛
PS – Confession: I probably fit the N.I.R. category at the moment!