Tuesday, August 22, 2006

A cliche'

Well... I have become a cliche'. I am now one of the millions of young Indian students who cross the "seven seas" and look for their fortunes in the distant land, whose name only looks the way it should, when lit up in disco colours - USA - the land of opportunities some call it.

I had heard about this cliche' before - there are so many back in India "The vegetarian and strict Tam-Bram", "the Pseudo intellectual super emotional Bong", "the wannabe MTV generation"..i could go on and on... I was safe in the knowledge that I would never be any of these. Well - this security blanket has been pulled away. It hit me - on the flight to the USA, a good old Air India flight - where the air hostesses are pleasantly rude..and the landing reassuringly bumpy. The guy sitting next to me was an employee of TCS going to the US for the first time. Having consumed my second lunch for the day - I was about to settle into a pleasant slumber when the guy next to me thrust his hand out. "Hmmmpphhh" I thought - being the unsociable grouch that I am. Surely and not so slowly, the guy started outlining his plans for the future to me. He was apparently looking at buying a petrol pump in the US and starting his own petrol pump fleet business. He had apparently overheard during a coffee shop conversation that this is a sure shot way to get rich and famous in the US. It was like reading a passage from Amrit Mathur's "The Inscrutable Americans" - but horror of horrors - I was a character in the story - a cliche' used by the author to get his story going. Anyway, in the meantime the future "petrol pump king of the east" - had announced to me that he wanted to meet Bobby Jindal. Bobby who??....I blurted out before I could stop myself. Call me shockingly ignorant of "World Affairs" but show me one american who knows or gives a shit about Madhavrao Scindia..or Jagat Singh...or Phoolan Devi. The eyes were opened saucer wide - "KYA Yaar...u havent heard of Bobby Jindal???He is very close to Bush yaaaaar!! I want to meet him as soon as possible" All I could manage was a "?????!!!!!".

Yenyways.... I also realised that had I not come to the US, I would have never realised how much Hollywood had influenced my idea of the place. As I started, with increasing frequency, interacting with Americans - I realised how prejudiced I had become. I constantly expected some racial slurring, or to see african americans with impossible hair-dos, or to see a gun toting beer guzzling redneck rushing at me in a mad fury. It hasnt happened yet....and god knows I have kept my eyes open.:)

I am still getting used to the place and its very many different kinds of people - and have realised that I have to wipe the slate - scribbled on my Hollywood movies, TV sitcoms, Newspapers, Bestsellers...several others besides- clean and start writing on it on my own. It will take some time until this takes sizeable proportions - and until that time I will refrain from comment.

I am constantly reminded of something I had read somewhere a very long time ago - it sums up to " 99% of what people tell you about anything, is hogwash. Go out there and find out for yourself".

Am I on my way to becoming a cliche'? - I surely hope not.


V.S.Narayanan said...

ok , firstly , the stuff on hollywood and sitcoms biasing the opinions ; cannot agree more ..the bad part is in my first two days here ...i had some unpleasant encounters , which simply reaffirmed my bias ! ...and as usual great post ! [:D] Still finding my feet here; it will take a lot of wiping

Saikat said...

machchan, its not amrit mathur...if i am not terribly mistaken, its anurag mathur.

Ch@ry said...

come to think of it, judging a place by its bus conductors is a pretty good idea - and that's so true about b'lore's conductors! :) no point being like andy (in the book), anyway.