Sunday, February 09, 2014



I never worry about all about all this "Indian culture is decaying" stuff that we keep hearing about. 

Of course, my reasons are entirely personal. I simply can't give up chai or cricket. We never heard of chai or cricket before those dastardly British brought them into our country in the name of looting our riches but nothing like hot tea + samosas on a nice rainy day watching a live telecast of Sachin Tendulkar having a field day. Is there? I admit that I am too weak to go back to a pre-chai, pre-cricket India just to be a more authentic Indian. In the same vein, I can't give up biryani or avoid admiring Taj Mahal or stop enjoying Hindustani classical music and Ghazals for some tribal reasoning that the Mughals patronized them. May be … May be, I am willing to  give up democracy and go back to Chanakya's time but only on one condition: I should be born into royalty. I am not going back to be some working-class village idiot who sits in a shop or cuts grass in the palace gardens. Those days, you had to be a member of royal class or priests to claim to have a life and afford medical attention so as to not die prematurely after eating a road-side mushroom. Stuff like this and the general convenience of technology, modern medicine, railways, cell-phones, internet we Indians never invented are too important to me. I can't simply sit around eating idli and blaming my horoscope all day no matter how authentically Indian it might be. Although, I can totally do without continental breakfast (How can people have something so bland or sweet so early in the morning? Yuck!). I understand it is self-centric behavior on my part to willfully inject these alien, progressive-yet-malevolent foreign influences into my system. Of course, I am being too easy on myself but only because I am confused about what parts of Indian culture or what period of history is supposed to be authentic and what parts of it are foreign. I have a hard time figuring this out. 

The interesting thing to me about "culture" is that it's always about the past. For example, if I ask you what is 2014 culture, you won't be able to say anything (and puh-leeze, trending on twitter is NOT culture). That's because it takes time for us to figure out of all the crazy things we are trying, what  caught on and what didn't. Culture is a statistical statement on the past. It's a numbers game. When we look at the past, especially with spectacularly selective memory we humans are gifted with, the past seems like this idealistic place where people agreed with each other about everything while a more closer reading of history reveals that a few, really insane people took to stage and started screaming loudly about what they want and the rest of the normal people caved in just to avoid confrontation and bad mood before dinner-time. 

Friends, there is no culture. I mean, there is really no such thing as culture.  I guess it depends on the way you look at it but to me, humankind is always in transition. It's one story and it's one big party that we all got invited to. There was no beginning to Indian culture or any other culture and there won't be an end - at least not until the polar bears regroup their armies to come back and take revenge on us for destroying their habitat. It's one big party and we either move around or we pick our corner, hang out with our favorite kind of people for a while and SWOOSH, off we go.



But, hey, let's be a little honest. Isn't the party getting more and more interesting with all the mingling going on ? 


Continued in Part 2 ...


Thanks to Dr. Yuval Noah Harari and his "A Brief History of Humankind Course" ...



9 comments :

smanu said...

Checking the video now. The first part of it, which talks about how man once upon a time had minimal impact on the ecosystem than even a jelly fish, reminds me of a thought of mine(echoed by few of my friends too): The last 40-50 years(perhaps just a nanosecond in the whole human evolution) have seen man 'progress' from 'How to make the best use of nature's resources -> 'Yes, man is completely capable of destroying himself and along with him the nature too'.

And who knows, man might have well elapsed many such nanoseconds periodically in the whole past of human evolution so far!

Sash! said...

If you have the time, do the entire course at coursera.org ... at least some parts of it ... it's fantastic, the way he speaks and explains ...

smanu said...

Oh sorry, I don't even have (my mind-)time for doing my office work. Most of the time these days, I quickly browse/skim through videos/prose just to get the jist..that is whatever my lil mindspace allows, sometimes not even that! I'm very sure I'll not be able to do any courses in near time especially considering the fact that my father's health has become a concern for me at home, the last two days. Not now atleast. Maybe some time after May. I'll definitely let u know if I ever get to do it.

Sash! said...

Don't worry ... i understand ... stay tuned to this blog ... i am trying to write all the cool ideas one by one ... of course, time's always a constraint ... :)

I sincerely wish that your father gets well ...

smanu said...

:) Thanks! I've always been up-to-date with ur blog eversince I first visited it last year and hope to continue to "be" so :)

g2 said...

btw... Idli is most probably came from Indonesia :p

Sash! said...

po raa ...

really ? Idli is not us ?

Rohan said...

Culture is what some people selectively choose from the past to impose on the present to substantiate the said person's twisted ideals for the present. As it is well known almost all of the witnesses from history are dead. .

Sash! said...

@rohan : "twisted ideals for the present" - love this phrase ...

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