Thursday, October 07, 2004

Politics, Cricket and a by-two chai

In India, politics replaces all other forms of entertainment. Well, except during the cricket season. At that time, even the politicians take a break from their mudslinging and sit in front of the tv.

So, it was not surprising to get into humungous political debates over the US elections, US foreign policy, Iraq, Bush's links (to everything mid-eastern!) and the future of US in world affairs, with my friends here in New York.

And then I wonder if I've had such vehement arguments over politics in India?

Well yes I have, most often about BJP/RSS and their veiled Hindutva agenda, sometimes over Pakistan, sometimes over the "new" Nuclear World and sometimes over US foreign policy. But for whatever reason, although politics is such a mainstay of newspapers back in India, it has never been so "in your face" as it has been here. After we've had our share of arguments and debates, we always have a "by-two chai", smoke a few cigarettes, and ask each other - "So what else is new?" And if things get too heated, there will always be someone coming over from the next table and saying "Take it easy guys!" or the ubiquitous "Relax!"

I've been thinking over this for some time now, how in the US you have to have a stand. And the stand is always 'for' or 'against'. Like you're either for abortion or against it. You're either for gay marriage or against it. You're either for the war or against it. You're either a Democrat or a Republican. There doesn't seem to be any middle ground in America!! And the funny part is you're expected to stay that way for the rest of your life!!

In India, we can let issues affect our lives only so much. After that, you've got to get up and move on! You've got to make a living, you've got buy some food, you've got to go back home because you're wife's waiting. I mean there's always so much to get done just to live that we can't afford to let issues rule our lives. Also, sooner or later, someone points out the ridiculousness of the whole thing and everyone cracks up! Until the next time, that is!

When I read the Wired article on "The New American Idol", one thing that caught my eye was the quote "It's the third way, Stupid". That's true, in life as in everywhere else. The idea is to make democracy work. The idea is to make the legal system work. The idea is to make life work. And invariably, there'll be things outside your control which will keep throwing spanners in your works. But you can't afford to stop and take a stand. If you get a spanner, take it out and look for nuts to tighten! And work around things! I guess that's why Indians are usually called unflappable.

At the end of the day, if you can have a hearty meal, enjoy the company of good friends, and when you lay your head on your pillow, think about a wonderful day spent rather than the things to do tomorrow, that's life well spent, isn't it?

PS. In case you're still wondering what a "by-two chai" is, I can't help you. You've got to go to Bangalore.


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