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09 January 2008

View From Bogota - Being an Indian

"Why do Sikhs wear a turban?" question from a curious Bogotan who had spend some time in Canada and had interacted with a lot of Sikhs.
I have answer for this. "Sikhs consider their hair as holding their strength and Spirit. So cutting down their hair is like cutting their spirit"
"Excuse me, does it apply only to hair on the head?" comes the counter question.
Bogotans are incredibly curious about India. Unlike those in England and US, who get a lot of information about India through the English news channels and papers, the Spanish papers do not spend a lot of ream on India. These people have some idea about India albeit not very accurate.
If Americans and English men think that Indian's are snake charmers, the people of Latin America has a different view of India. They think that India is a country where cows roam about on the roads freely. Their staple food being meat - especially beaf - there is a touch of self interest in knowing this aspect of India.
"We hear that India is a country where cows roam about on the roads?" they ask me with a touch of wistfulness on their voice. All those free food roaming about and here we have to pay for the same meat through the nose.
"Is it true?"
I nod in the affirmative.
"Here in Colombia, if we see a cow on the street, we kill it and eat it", they inform me.
"Why do you let them roam about?"
"Cow gives us milk and we consider it as equivalant to the mother" I tell them in a 'holier than thou' tone, "You don't eat your mother"
Not very convinced, these Bogotans.
"How many languages do you speak in India?" comes another FAQ
"We speak over 22 languages" I inform them proudly.
"Of course you should, you hold about 15% of world's population"
I point out that China with more population than India speaks only two languages. This silences them. But not for long.
"Is India a poor country?" comes the next question
"Are all Indian's vegetarians?"
"Why are Indian's vegetarians?"
"How many gods do you have in India?" first time I am hearing of gods specific to India.
Some of these questions can make you think. For example the question, why are Indans Vegetarians....
I tell them that Indian culture considers all thing as a part of god. So killing animals is a sin.
"If all the things are a part of god, then you should not be eating plants also" opines the questioner.
I did not know what to say

1 comment:

Anonymous said... you also get into the trap....mucho gusto !!!
It was very lucky that we have Indian life explained on internet, else I would have never been able to make them understand India....
Some time ppl here ask so specific things about India that allow me to scrach my living here...
- Sunil Soni