We Indians are essentially credulous people. We signify intangible sentimental energy. We do not realise the predicament of being caught up in a conflict we have nothing to do with. Your problem is my problem and that is how it works in India. This is one of the several things that are quintessentially Indian.
There are people like the sabzi wala, doodh wala, rickshaw wala, kaam wali, dhobi, and maali who give our day an edge of familiarity. There is more to India and the Indian-ness we carry. Certain experiences, beliefs, attitudes, behaviour patterns and habits are uniquely Indian and we are extremely proud of them. I would try to tie together a few of them.
Relatable Indian Things
Tadka: Indian food without tadka is like spaghetti without sauce. We splurge on ghee-fed food and our aunties make sure that the masaledaar tadka adds to the spicy treat. We are a nation obsessed with food. At the breakfast table, we discuss the menu for lunch and over lunch, we list out options for dinner and before we hit the sack, we talk about what we can have for breakfast.
Jugaad: We have an instinct for jugaad and its manifestations. There is absolutely no situation where jugaad cannot be used. Jugaad is a quick-fix Indian tool to find a solution. It is a refusal to accept defeat. We think on our feet and we execute. We know how to make things work.
Horoscope: They say an Indian without a horoscope is like an American without a social security number or credit card. If the shani has laid his grubby paws or invaded your space then you cannot do much about it. The doomsayer who predicted this would come up with a solution- upaye. Upaye is an attempt to soft-pedal the ghastly truth. It can be taking 50 roundabouts of a fountain or feeding birds and cows on different days and at different times during the day.
Cinema: They say three Cs rule India – cricket, cinema and curry bind us together. We as a nation, love cinema. Be it a thriller, crime or action movie we love the dance moves. It has a unique way to regale the audience. Going south, everything has to be different to match the southern sensibilities. They use an adjective for the movie star when the cast is introduced on the silver screen. For example,
Real star: Upendra
Hatrick Hero: Shivrajkumar (s/o of Raj Kumar )
Rebel Star: Ambarish
Television News Trivia: We are inured to the occurrence of media professionals asking stupid questions. They have mastered the art of asking wholly inappropriate and highly irrelevant questions. If someone has been kidnapped and had undergone any kind of nasty experience then that person has to bear the brunt. “Aapko kaisa lag raha hai” is what they would blatantly ask. There is nothing quite as contrived as news channels. You will remain totally befuddled by what you’ll see. Stories are concocted about the chamatkari gaay (a cow that began giving milk when it was only 10 days old), or a chamatkari maala (a garland that magically grew longer and longer).
The Big Fat Indian Wedding: The heavy earrings had made her ears bleed, her waist was flayed raw by zari, and the lehenga weighed a ton – but she was having the time of her life. Then, after 6 crazy days of sangeet, mehendi, theme parties and receptions, she was rushed in her designer finery to the emergency ward. “Looking at the wounds the doctor thought I had been stabbed,” says the bride, giggling at the memory.
On the Roads: “Dad, look at that” he whispered in snide bewilderment. “Oh, that’s a cow” My uncle, who had come from Canada, tried to calm the inquisitiveness of his five-year-old son. The little one fixed his father with a perplexed stare and said “Cow, sure I can see that but what it is doing on the road.” We are accustomed to seeing men peeing on roads, overcrowded roadway buses, and instinctive driving which urges one to drive from the heart without following any traffic rules.
Obsession with English: We are obsessed with the English language as a nation. India’s elite, bureaucracy, and the corporate world don’t function without a flair for the English language. The proclivity to demand esteem, and the ability to negate it is all a matter of your proficiency with the language which has also become a barometer to measure one’s intelligence.
Sharmaji Ka Ladka: Indian parents undergo a symptom called “Sharma ji ka ladka”. This picture-perfect boy/girl has been shoved down our throats from childhood to adulthood. Every household has a neighbour’s son/ daughter who has done exceptionally well in life and every other household shall use him as a passing reference till their child does something to prove that they too stand in good stead.
Things that are quintessentially Indian make us who we are. There is a little India we carry in our hearts and our homes no matter which part of the globe we are in. So yes, it happens only in India and no matter where we go our Indian-ness will never leave us.
Views expressed by the author are their own
Suggested reading: 25 Things In Indian Households That Make You Go WTF!
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