Today is Ethnic Day in office. Yup, the same… where you dress up according to the region you belong to :D… like Unity in Diversity and all that.  Honestly, I wish these HR guys would come up with something new. Something that is truly in the spirit of patriotism, something that brings out the “feel” of 26th Jan.  Every year it is the same workplace decorating and the tri-colors and the dressing up ethnically and every year we do it …de rigeur

It got me thinking though…What does a Republic Day or an Independence day mean to me? Frankly.. it has always just been another holiday. We don’t do anything to “celebrate” it as such, right…some of us turn up to be the part of a congregation that is hoisting the Indian Flag. Some lucky few go and catch the parade, and see the Rashtrapati Bhawan all lit up… or if you live close enough to the parade ground.. catch the white, green and saffron balloons flying up into the clouds.  Our folks would at least tune into Doordarshan and watch the parade, with Sonal Man Singh and the other commentators telling us about our Army, Navy and Air force.. or the state tableaux and the meanings… we don’t even do that.

And then there are times when I think… what is there worth celebrating anyways?  The netas, the politics, the red tape, our own lack of manners ( especially by those phoren returned types), our bad roads, our cows (!!), our backward technology, our laws and policies, our agricultural economy and lack of jobs for the urban youth? So many of us are desperate to relocate, to leave “this country” and the associate troubles and find a home in a foreign land. I wonder how many of us feel anything close to patriotism.

And then I listen to this song… and it moves me to tears.

What is it about the scenes in this clip? It is only people travelling in a 2nd class dabba in a train, fields and fields of crop, a small lake in a small village, family, shared “tripling” scooter rides, a boat ride on the Ganga, travelling by a rickety rackety bus, to places where there are no roads, no electricity… if you see the pattern.. there are a lot of things in this list which are  the same things that we crib about.

… but somehow, these images move us… because they are familiar, they are OUR OWN. 

How many of us have lived abroad and missed these scenes? Or felt alienated in the midst of a strange culture, of people and places that were “different”. I know that I have. Infact there was a time in the past, that I would dream of lovely.. (note the use of the word 🙂 ) crowds that would greet me when I landed at Mumbai Airport.  I would remember the saas-bahu serials, the smell of the wet earth in the monsoons, how we celebrate festivals,  our middle class values and superstitions. I was really homesick.. and at that point.. home was India 🙂 not xyz state, or xyz city or abc address.

Sometimes I feel that as a country  we don’t appreciate what we have, and like it is with all other things, we only realise what we had, when we miss its presence…our small villages, our farmlands, our traditions, our values, our warmth as a people, our politics ( yes, I’ll take it with a pinch of salt.. and strive to find the funnies in it too), our picture postcard perfect landscapes.. the mountains, the deserts, the backwaters, the lush greenery, the rivers). This year.. I’ll take a step back from my life, and try and look at the bigger picture… and I will be thankful!

And….

 I will definitely not crib. 🙂 🙂

Happy Republic Day to you guys!

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