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*°The Story of a Little Girl°*
Dec 16, 2005 09:55 PM 5858 Views
(Updated Jan 09, 2006 03:54 PM)

Once upon a time, there was a Little Girl who lived in the capital city of India, New Delhi. She had spent her entire life in one place, going to one school, being around similar people, in similar surroundings. One day, when she was chatting with her friends, she said, “ I promise I’ll Never leave India”. The next month, her father got a job in Europe, and she had to move away from everything…her home, her school, her city…her country

The first Striking Difference

As soon as she reached this new and strange land, the Little Girl realised that the English language, which is almost always sufficient in India, may not be recognised in other parts of the world. She had to understand, that while India is heavily influenced by the English language, in many other countries, people do not need to use the language at all. So the little girl was struck by the fact that, not everywhere in the world can she find her way around just by knowing English!

Education System

The first time that the Little Girl went to school, which luckily was an English-medium school, she realised that the basic difference between India and “abroad” is most felt right at the school level. As she met the other kids in school, she realised that all her life she had been exposed only to the Indian values and surrounded by the Indian culture. The environment in which she found herself now, was a stark contrast to all that she’d been taught all these years. Even the school system which she was used to, was a lot more disciplined and conservative than her present school, where she did not even need to wear a uniform! As she spent more time at school, she realised that basic teaching method in India is a lot more rigorous and extensive, while in this present system, things seemed to be comparatively laid-back, and the emphasis was put on the overall development of the students as human beings. As she thought over it, she realised that both systems have their good and bad points, so she couldn’t really decide which was better.

The People

One thing that she had been rather apprehensive about was how people would accept her. Would they think of her as a stranger and leave her alone? Or would they mock her prominent difference? Or would they befriend her, and accept her as one of them…a normal little kid? Well her questions were answered right at the beginning, when she did not have to make any effort at all to be “accepted” as such. All those assumptions that Europeans would look down upon an Indian, and be discriminative due to the colour of her skin, were proved wrong in an instant, when her classmates themselves excitedly came up to her and did not make her feel any different from them. “Maybe I am just lucky”, she thought, “maybe the teacher told them to be like this.” However, as time passed, they tried their best to never make her feel that she was different from them. True, there were some exceptions, but then, weirdos exist everywhere right? Overall, racism was really never a problem, which downright disproves the misconception in India that “whites” would look down upon them. The case is quite contrary…they are quite eager to know about us!

The Staple Diet

When the Little Girl first moved to this new place, she was pretty fascinated and thrilled to try all out all this exciting new foreign cuisine…dishes which had not been common at all in New Delhi. However, as time passed, she felt an urge to eat the regular Indian meal that one gets at any Indian restaurant. Soon, she craved for relatively simple dishes like “Chhole-bhature” and “Gol Gappe/ Pani Puri” which had been so readily available around her home in India. Although there were a few shops where they could find Indian foodstuffs, the Indian restaurants really did not match up with the “real” Indian food that she was so accustomed to. But oh well, she thought, you win some, you lose some.

East is East

Even though this phenomena wasn’t quite evident at the beginning, as she got well immersed into her surroundings and settling in became secondary, she realised that the basic “Indian” values and culture that she had always been taught, clashed in a big way with the Western cultural values. For a young girl, this was quite confusing. Her mind was in conflict about what to choose, the values of the country where she belonged to, or the place where she was going to spend a major part of her growing years in. But as she thought about it, she realised, no matter how hard she tried, she would never really be able to discard all the ethics that had been imbibed in her. She could learn to ignore them, but at the end of the day, she would be left somewhere in the middle, not really all European and not all Indian. So the Little Girl just decided to hold on to all she had been taught, and yet learn to broaden the horizons of her being, by merging what she already had, with what she was learning in this new land. After all, people’s fundamental mentalities don’t change, so its up to them whether they want to accept that and use the values in a positive way, or ignore and try to forget them and totally immerse themselves into another society. Both arguments have positive and negative points, and at the end of the day, it really is a personal choice.

West is West too

The Little Girl did not complain about being where she was, because after all, any new place brings with it new challenges and new surprises. All that she had been exposed to in India was admittedly very different from where she was now, but this didn’t stop her from accepting these changes. Instead, she took this as an opportunity to be able to get a broader prospective of life in general. Living in two radically different cultures and societies, she could draw comparisons and analyse the “world” from different perspectives, for which, she considered herself lucky. Its true that she did feel lost and stranded at first and found it hard to go through the entire process of adaptation, but it was a steady and fruitful process, so she did not have a take “the pill” in one go! India’s great, and taking the Indian perspective west and juxtaposing the two together just enriches the knowledge even more.

Last Words

After many years of living abroad, The Little Girl still considers her home and country to be India. She keeps her “Indian-ness” alive by watching all Bollywood movies, listening to Hindi music, keeping in touch with her friends and family in India, and most importantly, not forgetting her roots…her beginning.

The End

PS: The Little Girl in story has now grown up, and you all know her by the name of Neha aka Nenners...

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