Sunday, March 8, 2009

This ain't your grandma's culture

The term "Indian Culture" keeps getting thrown around a lot these days. Just like if you tell a few clients to shove their ideas you-know-where you are suddenly branded as "difficult to work with". Pfft.

What is Indian Culture? What actually defines Indian culture?

Well, the truth is, no one really knows. And if anyone tell you they do, well, they are either crazy or they work for Ekta Kapoor. Wait, that's like an oxymoron.

I'm not saying we don't have a culture. Of course. Our civilization is possibly thousands of years old. And in certain parts of South Asia, you can still see people living it up like it's 8 B.C. .

In my not so humble opinion (hey, everyone knows I'm a blowhard; so that is mostly a moot point anyway), culture is not a strict set of rules written in a book and to be followed strictly even five or six thousand years later. Culture changes according to time. And culture means adapting.

Long before Columbus discovered America and they stole our gig of being a "melting pot" of cultures, ancient India (pre-AK Hangal) was supposed to be cultural center of the whole world. (Much like modern day New York. Except the women had less silicon implants and more armpit hair.) Even most of the religons were invented in India, except the three abrahamic religions. And of course Scientology. That was invented when Tom Cruise fell from his motocycle while shooting Top Gun and damaged the last remaining working cells in his brain. Another side effect of Scientology is that it causes people to act like a nutjob whenever they are in the presence of a higher power.

I'm not one of those LSD trips in which I say that we have the richest culture in the world and talk like someone who lives in the alternate universe created by Suraj Bharjatiya's Rajshri productions where everyone respects their elders and the death of Alok Nath's character brings world peace.

Our culture has been a mishmash of various cultures around the world. Our country has been invaded and plundered more times than Maddona. I am not that big a student of history (mainly because I can't even remember what happened last night. Hey, at least I made it home. Give a brother some credit.) but we all know that there were Aryans, Greeks, Mughals, Turks, Persians, Frenchmen, Portugese, Chinese, Britons and a few hundred aliens from the planet blingon who looked like Bappi Lahri.

So our culture is pretty much like a plate of "mix vegetable" available in the choicest of really bad vegetarian restaurants, a mixture of everything that's leftover from the previous day. Hey, don't look at me like that. I would rather die than go to a place which serves vegetarian food. But when you're young, broke and in college, it's a great place to take college professors you want to bribe. By college professors I mean guy who marked the attendance.

So when people say that doing certain things "is against our culture", I find it to be as thin an argument as Kareena Kapoor was in Tashan.

Another thing that pisses me off (and fortunately I am not the only one) is when people style themselves as self-serving protectors of Indian culture. The most ironic thing about such people is that even they have no idea about what they are trying to defend. So these people go about defining Indian culture as not wearing jeans and beat up innocent people for living their lives, they are no different from the dittoheads the world over who have a certain kind of misplaced dedication to false causes like religous fundametalism and Star Trek.

Then there is another large consistency which has taken it upon itself to preserve Indian culture (or their version of it) from attacks from other less moralistic and cruel cultures so that they can stop their children from turning into Zombies who listen to hip-hop and have sex with each other and disappear the next morning. And then don't even call back.

Yes, you guessed it. This peculiar creature is commonly known as the NRI. The unfortunate one who has to leave his poor, frail home which has fifty people sharing a two bedroom apartment with just a single washroom where people have to sing when occupying it because locks are a western concept and go to greener pastures which have luxuries like indoor plumbing and twenty four hour convenience stores. (Okay. Not everybody shares Bobby Jindal's story. But you get the idea.)

A few weeks ago there were some NRI family friends visiting. We were having a discussion and I told her that I know lots of people who prefer to live-in together before getting married. Or choose not to get married at all. She looked at me like I had just shot a litter of kitten and proceeded to roast them over the burning body of their mother.

And then, she said without even blinking, with an air of sincere misplaced superiority, "But that's against our culture".

It was my turn to stare.

12 comments:

swats.... said...

so true and i believe there is no definition for Indian culture and nothing of the sort like western culture exists...its the way we tend to choose our life...i have this pic of mine in sleeveless top with a tattoo on my hand on my orkut profile...and some followers of Indian culture are screaming to take it out....damn...i am not exposing yar...no idea why ppl have lot of expectations from everyone around while they still dont know how to live on their own...

Stray said...

[Gives the Outcast an ovation] Mucho like 'cos mucho nice. :)

I concur with your POV that 'culture' encompasses multiple aspects and perspectives, but those indulging in moral policing are focused only on the values imbibed within or arising consequent to culture; it is therefore incorrect to assume (or state) that they are against culture adapting itself with time per se and consequently a new set of values being adopted by society. It is also important to understand that there is a difference between 'morality' and 'culture', which the fine specimens u make reference to neither understand nor respect.

Am setting out the wikipedia link to 'culture', as this wud provide further insight into what the term seeks to cover - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Culture.

P.S. - There's a typo in "Then there is another large consistency which has taken it upon itself to preserve Indian culture", where "consistency" should be "constituency".

Rakesh said...

Yes you outcast (now, I know why you're termed that), writing posts like these is against 'our culture'. But you do your thing, coz. that's your 'culture'.

And do get a culture test tomorrow :) he he

Brickbats,
NRI.

Che said...

" She looked at me like I had just shot a litter of kitten and proceeded to roast them over the burning body of their mother."

Brilliant.

SMRITI said...

LOL... agree with what you have written. Culture evolves time to time... now dont tell me tomo that I should go back and live in a hermit's hut and not cross a Lakshman rekha or whatever :P

"Except the women had less silicon implants and more armpit hair".

ROFL

Indian John Doe said...

Bang on...Who the F*** are these people to say that this is Indian culture and this is what everyone must do...The country is going to the dogs...

sanely insane said...

logic if for rationale people...the mob zie no understand rationale...so then why bother...just sit back and smile at their charade

Over Rated said...

@swats: I hope that you didn't remove that pic ... One of the reasons I steer clear of Orkut ... :P ...

@Stray: You didn't just wikipedia me, didja? .... Talk about the lowest form of discourse ... :P ...

@Rakesh: No, no test. That's too much culture for me ... :P ..

@Che: Thanks, bro ....

@Smriti: Even if someone asks you too, never go live in a hermit's hut .... They don't even have wifi ....

@John Doe: It had gone to the dogs twenty years ago, it's the time of the pigs now .... :P ...

@Sanely Insane: Well, I guess you really can't have an intellectual argument with people with the IQ of a household rat.

sanely insane said...

somehow i think u did an grave injustice to the household rats by that comparison :P

Over Rated said...

I guess you could say that ... :P ..

Ruchi Gupta said...

You're funny. I like to know the source of my humor - care to oblige?

Over Rated said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

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