Vice = Virtue


 It appears to me that these days I walk in a state of semi-detachment from the world. I cross traffic-clogged roads dreamily without looking at either sides. I board and alight buses and trains with my eyes firmly lodged on my IPhone.

What happened to me? You may wonder. Well nothing out of the ordinary. I am just being an NRI. My feet have gotten accustomed to pedestrian crossings and queues at bus-stops. My eyes and ears have taken a backseat, both lavishing all their attention to the Facebook app on my IPhone now.

Flashback to 4 years ago, I was like the female version of ‘Tarzan’. Sprinting after buses, elbowing fellow-passengers, trampling feet that obstructed a path to a possible empty seat, warding off curious hands and cheeky grins with a dark stare or under more unbearable conditions with a handy safety-pin. And do I need to mention, I lived in India back then? Living the Desi life to the core.

I crossed roads, dodging Godzilla size truckers and rickshaws driven by drivers with an evil glint in their eye. My heart never skipped a beat in the midst of such peril. At college, I even scaled brick walls to reach a shortcut path to my classes. And mind you, all this donning very non-gymnastic attire of the salwar-khameez paired with the flowing dupatta.

Where did that person disappear? Where is that girl in me, who haggled with auto-drivers and street-vendors, devoured chaats and Frooti fearlessly and skipped past gutters and potholes with the grace of a ballerina?

My senses used to be alert. Hand casually but firmly gripped onto the handbag and mobile when in the midst of crowds. Eyes watching out for puddles and abruptly ending footpaths and beggars sprawled on these footpaths. Nostrils diverting me from possible nasal terrors in the form of walls which sadly serve as public latrinals for the majority Indian men.

These days, my hands and eyes are either busy with the pages of a book, or fiddling with my phone. The sense of smell has gone to sleep, only to be rudely awakened by some fellow-passenger’s astonishing choice of perfume mingled with sweat. I am an invisible entity in the throng of commuters. Catcalls and pokes are a thing of the past. The invisibility is strangely comforting and yet eerie. In India, people can’t get enough of looking at you and here people can’t get enough of looking at their PS3 or more recently their IPads. There’s a calming monotony to life. The predictability of each step I take is reassuring and yet sometimes, I want to prance and hop instead of sail and glide.

How many of you NRIs miss that aspect of ‘home’ sometimes?

Curiosity versus Indifference. Unpredictability versus Predictability. Adventure versus Routine. India versus The rest of the world.

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18 thoughts on “Vice = Virtue

  1. I loved it .. !!! .. But funny thing is it made myself to look in to me. here in Germany!. In india I had better phone .. Now i have a crappy phone on which ppl call seldom .. Many days togather I have forgotton to take it to work.. ITs charge last for 10 days straight .. and when it dies I recharge the battery. !! . But you are right I too miss the home in the complete opposite way .. I have to walk here but back I could always find a cheap transport or autorickaw which would take me anywhere I want.. I always have ppl to talk to which makes me distracted ..

  2. I have seen people sit in mrt and do not even interact with anyone there,they are either lost in their phone or ipod or some other gizmo but whereas in a Mumbai local we are used to playing cards,chat,joke and do all sorts of things.In India we acknowledge each other but elsewhere it is all to material needs only.We are spiritually very rich nation.Other nations are more materially bent and Spiritually empty.

  3. You are so right. Materially very aware. Ofcourse the spiritual side of things, I am not in position to comment. But I do miss the non-stop interaction and buzz back home.

  4. @krsnaknows, lets agree to disagree on your comment mate…i do miss home but not for the reasons u have stated.

    Stuff like ‘materially bent and Spiritually empty’ dont seem to make much sense to me…why make such strong statement against other nations, that’s likely to frame wrong opinion about all Indians…

    every country is beautiful…love prevails everywhere…you can interact with people in local tubes even out here or wherever u are, you just need to be a bit outgoing and get rid of that i-do-not-belong-to-this-place mentality within…once u do that u will be able to embrace everything that comes your way…

    Back home is special cos it holds my best moments in life…

  5. Hi, I stumbled on your blog when i was browsing bloggers in Singapore in Indiblogger and I’m so happy i did 🙂
    I can so connect to what you are saying, i used to live in the crowd capital Mumbai and while life is so much easier here i do miss the ‘fight’ from back home sometimes!

  6. hey there.
    this was a beautifully written post.
    it was. it left me wondering which way was better though- to be an unwavering calm island, neatly shored up and separate…or to be part and parcel of the crowd. As a South African Indian, I…feel utterly apart from this post of yours. Of belonging so thoroughly and contributing and sensing and being irritable and still enjoying the throng.

    I think i only felt like that during the very ephermeral time of the World Cup.
    And then things tilted back to indifferent.

    • wll first of all..i loved the way you described you feelings. Elegantly put 🙂 Feeling as part of something is phenomenal as you said..I agree

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