Friday, April 21, 2017

World Dancing on Desi Beats

I was 5, or maybe less. While putting me to sleep my mom told me the story of a crow who slowly puts small pebbles in a big jar so that water could rise and he could drink water from it. The tortoise story - where he steadily won the race from the hare - was my favourite. I repeated it more times than my mom to put her to sleep! There was another one where a wise man saved himself from a wolf and a lion by just being smart.

I did not grow up listening to Cinderella or Rapunzel. I grew up listening to Birbal tales and these myriad stories of wit and wisdom, of being a fighter, of Indian values, of respecting others and the environment. I grew up listening to these stories from my mother and my grandmother in a happy and homely environment - a type that can exist only in my country.

Every morning me and my brother woke up early and were spoilt rotten with good home-made food. We were taught Yoga by example because everyone in the family did that. 

Any problem and I was taught to recite the calming ‘Ek onkar’. Repetition of the same calmed my mind, body and soul. 

After coming from school I played outside the house with people from the vicinity. It included kids from castes and socio-economic background different than mine. 

I went to a Catholic school where I visited a chapel with friends every single day. On Eid I went to a friend’s place to devour Biryani and get blessings from the elders in a Muslim household. My help, who lived on the terrace celebrated her daughter’s birthday every year, we celebrated with her too, just the way she liked it, in her house.

These values, this upbringing, those stories – all this has made me successful as a human being.

I am less stressed because I do Yoga every day. I have a hymn to go to whenever my mind wanders. That story of a tortoise, well, I can’t tell you how much it has helped me in being a fighter. I can live and adjust anywhere in the world because of the multitude of people with whom I grew up. 

Such values have made us Indians successful everywhere. You see the list of top CEO’s in the world and you will notice how Indians are in majority. Think of any brand and you will see a prominent board member being Indian. It is not just our food or culture which has made us successful; it is our values, our belief system that has taken us places. 

Because of this, the world is becoming #MoreIndianThanYou think. I have not seen that once but many times.

Now imagine a Desert Camp in the heart of the Gulf land. The invitees include people from the Arab world, numerous Brits, Americans, and Indians. There is a hookah lounge at one corner. A man is teaching how to write your name in Arabic. There is a huge stage. What do we have for entertainment – performances by Indian artists on numerous Bollywood songs till wee hours in the morning. What do we have for food – Chaat, Pav Bhaji, Butter Chicken, et al. No one really cares for Shawarma, Hummus and Belly dancers! The Middle East is definitely #MoreIndianThanYouThink

I walk into a park in Lisbon. A unique concert is going on with participants over the age of 50. They start dancing. Can you guess the song? Jai ho it is! 

Oldies in Lisbon dancing to Indian tunes!
I go to Ibiza. I check events on the local website.  One event catches my fancy. It is being held on a Wednesday in a park close to my hotel. I am just as surprised as you will be on hearing its name. They are celebrating the Indian festival of colours - Holi! And this event happens every month in summers not for Indians only, but for people from across the world. Europe is strikingly #MoreIndianThanYouThink.

The banner says it all!

All of us know about Kajol and Shahrukh Khan striking a pose on Mt. Titlis in Switzerland. You cannot help but be in awe of Hindi signs across airports in the world. Indians have made the world adjust to their requirements and why not!

One of the best examples of India’s growing influence on the world is the recent Lufthansa Airlines television commercial. An England coach tells his players that to win from Indians you have to play like them, meditate like them, eat like them and if need be, dance like them. When you want to fly like Indians, hop into Lufthansa and you will be greeted like them and be fed like them. Well, not everyone is fortunate to be Indian by birth, but if you want, you can become like one!

 The hare and tortoise story that is my favourite is how Indians are taking over the world – slowly and steadily not merely as successful entrepreneurs, leaders or sportspersons, but as successful human beings. I am glad that I am one too!