Friday, May 27, 2011

Impressions of India - I

Visiting India after living abroad for a few years always brings a fresh perspective. For me, I started noticing everything such as our family structure, how our public transport works, Indian toilets vs. Western toilets and their impact on the environment and hygiene, the little things as well as the big ones that delight or exasperate us whether it pertains to India or to our adopted lands, etc. I have started to grasp that inscrutable term, 'culture' and how it subtly affects our way of thinking about our life path, our marriages, the number of children we choose to have, our mobility between places and even whether we are city yuppies or laid-back small town types. Perhaps, in some ways, I have also started to understand why India is a spiritual land...

America, for example, is a melting pot of different national origins, ethnic groups, languages and religions. India, on the other hand, at least excluding some trendy metro areas, is largely like an assorted plate of hor d' oeuvres. Indians still prefer to marry within their linguistic group and religion even if they are not caste-conscious. Most of their interaction with people of other ethnic/linguistic groups happens at work, school or purely by an accident of fate such as living in the same neighborhood. Each Indian family thus maintains its distinctive linguistic, religious and even caste heritage.
This is of course slowly eroding in some urban areas with lots of inter-caste, inter-cmmunity and inter-religious marriages taking place. However, for the vast majority opting for arranged marriages, this still holds true.

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