I meet a lot of people during my travels. A few continue to be great friends and the rest just become distant memories. The best part about travelling is that you can either be yourself while meeting other people or you can make up a character and be that person. Being a dramatic person at heart, occasionally I bring out my mischievous side and make up a character that I would like to play in front of my audience. It helps me get an insight on the way humans think and their reactions help me study their behavior.
On my way to Jodhpur The passengers that were travelling with me in the same compartment fell prey to this game of mine. I decided to be an NRI (non-resident-Indian) living and working in Australia, who had just decided to travel back to her roots (India).
My audience consisted of two police inspectors travelling to their native village, an English teacher, a medical professor and a medical student. With a slight accent to my English, I could convince them of my story. A little bit of knowledge about the geographical and economic structure of the place was enough to kick start any discussion about my origins and way of life. Of course, it did often bring up the sentence “India is the best”, I did however observe the sudden patriotism that each one of them exhibited the minute a foreign land was talked about. On one hand, they would speak about the Indian government and people slacking off with basic habits and on the other hand they would get defensive whenever the Australian government was spoken about.
Being a South Indian, I did notice that north Indians are more patriotic and biased in the presence of a foreigner. They would bring together ends trying to show off their country and would always shine a positive light. The Indians in the south, however, do not have such biasness and treat an Indian and a foreigner similarly. Maybe it is because, during the early days, many foreign colonies were established in the coastal areas of the south. These areas have seen settlements from the Dutch, Portuguese, French and English. So much of the culture in these areas have been influenced by these colonies. There is a huge contrast between the lifestyle of an Indian born in the south and an Indian born in the north.
It only goes without saying that India, albeit small, has a vast number of varying cultures, traditions and lifestyles across. Indians in the north are so different from the Indians in the south, Indians in the east are so different from those in the west and yet all are unified under the Indian nationality.
I learnt a lot about the little group I travelled with. Their supernatural beliefs (the medical professor even read my star chart (kundli) for me), their political beliefs, their mind set, their take on women, etc. through them I also learnt about Rajasthan. The various festivals and folk dances. The primary occupation, the friendly and homely culture. It is these encounters that open my eyes to a whole new world that I stepped into.
Rest assured they were extremely helpful and told me a lot about Jodhpur itself. The medical student I spoke about earlier even helped me get to my hostel in Jodhpur once we reached. It goes without saying, no matter how different people may be across the land, most of them can have extremely interesting things to say only if you are willing to listen, as an Indian or an NRI.