The Indian state of mind

I am an Indian born in India and have lived here for 20 years; stepping out of the country for only six months of my life.

To the average outsider/firangi/non-Indian who has only imagined India through the eyes of the television, newspaper and internet India is a concoction of the following three pictures; well mainly




The Great Indian Bazaar



But what the  tourist does not get to see, in it’s full extent, is the Lives and Times of the Average Indians.

India is a land of contrast. Not that no country is. But India presents stark contrast.

High rise buildings are seen behind a slum in Mumbai

Aam aadmi living alongside Khas aadmi


The vehicle of the 21st century? Going back in time

India has often been described as a “Rich country where poor people live”. While this is not entirely true, the implications of such a remark cannot be ignored. Firstly to discuss, what is meant by a rich country? Rich in resources is my guess. And poor in what sense? Lifestyle? Or cash-in-hand? According to the census of 2011-2012, India’s population is 121 crore and people living below poverty line are 27 crore. This comes up to 22.3 %.

Today in the paper i read that Indian billionaires form the 6th largest group in the world. Precisely 103 billionaires live in India at the moment. And India houses 95% of them. That comes to a mere 0.0000036% of India’s population!

The per capita income of an Indian is INR5729So where does all the money go to? I can think of only one such place: the pockets of Indian ministers. But that is a topic for another day. Today i would like to draw your attention to the classes of Indians living in India and the workings of their mind.

First to start off with the poorest of the poor. The labour class. The one who does odd kinds of jobs to support his family. He works as the construction worker at the nearby metro construction site or as a sweeper at the local school. He does not have time to indulge in baseless conversations. He enjoys the food his wife cooks for him and the occasional bidi. His wife works as the maid at 7 houses. Sometimes cooking, sometimes washing the clothes and the dishes. They have at least 2 kids and 3 if the first two are girls. The highest education the kids will ever receive is class 10 pass. If the kids are girls they will be married off between the ages of 15-19. If it’s a boy, he will start earning by the age of 13.


Bidi – the poor man’s tobacco

To show the contrast let us consider a typical upper class Indian family. The husband has a business, either textiles or industrial. The lady does not work, she only does kitty party or makes an occasional appearance at the charity organised by her husband. She is the glamour quotient of the family at parties, of which they are seen at 4 times a week. They have 2 kids. They both are educated at the best of schools and colleges in India. The boy has been groomed to take over the fathers’ business. And the girl has been groomed to be shown-off to others at gatherings, for when the mother is not at the top of her game. When the kids are not attending family parties with their parents, they can be seen a parties hosted by their friends at the poshest of clubs and restaurants with the choicest of gadgets.


The Big Fat Indian Wedding

Mind you, the pictures you see of the Big Fat Indian Wedding are not a farce! These wedding do happen but they happen only in the families of the upper class Indians. Not that i’m complaining, but just so you know its not a regular affair for most Indians, only for the bracketed ones.

And the third and most interesting category of individuals to be found in the nation belongs to that of the middle class Indian. The typical middle class Indian family consists of the father, mother, father’s father and mother(in case of a joint family), kids – 1(specially in the now trendy nuclear families) or 2(mostly) or 3 or 4(rare). The father works in the service sector doing the 9-5 job, which can easily be said now to be 11-7. He works either in the public sector or private sector, both are prevalent. The mother is also well educated and works too. The kids were sent to good schools, and upon their educational capabilities they were enrolled in colleges. But all’s not too good in this chhota parivaar, sukhi parivaar (small family, happy family) scenario.

The bills are-a-mounting, the kids want to study abroad or worse yet want to take a year drop and find their way in the world(!), the wife is concerned about her daughter’s wedding and had started buying gold 5 years past, the parents are wanting to go to rishikesh,benaras,haridwar for the umpteenth time before their final calling and the husband still cannot find time to watch the last test match series of Sachin’s life on the LG LCD HD TV he bought on his family’s insistence!


Barring class divides, there are other norms which pertain to every Indian. India has been highly publicised/criticised (depends on the border of your mind) for the following:

1. Marriage – Should be arranged. There’s nothing called love before marriage. All love happens after marriage. Once married to someone, you are bound to be together for the next seven lives (Re-incarnation is a big thing in India). Gen Y is changing that with extramarital affairs, pre-marital sex, high divorce rates.

2. Education – There is nothing else worth studying in India other than engineering and medicine. If you are not a student of either, your life is a waste.


Beta, what are you doing now?”

“Aunty, English honours at So and So college.”

Aunty (clearly dissapointed), “You should have studied harder in class 12 no, then you would not have had to suffer now.”

“Aunty, but i’m not suffering, i like the subject hence i willingly got into it.”

“English Honours is a thing to study kya? Didn’t you already study it in school?” Aunty walks away to take up the matter with fellow aunties.

I hope recent trends by Gen Y in taking up more liberal arts courses are changing Aunty’s perception.

3. Religion –

DISCLAIMER: This is specifically for Hindus in India. I am not taking into account other religions.

We dont ask you to pray only 5 times a day, but more. You should be able to recognise by face/clothes/background/number of hands/hairstyle/pet animal/instrument in hand/self-defence weapon/number of eyes  the top 20 Hindu gods(there are 6 billion Hindu deities according to the Vedas) by the time you are 10. This is a part of home education, the syllabus of which will never change.


Indian god’s pop art


4.  Making tea – The most crucial part of home education, which goes hand-in-hand with serving your elders is the art of making tea. Whether you be with an iPhone in your pocket or Nokia , when your elders ask you to make tea, you leave every pending work and go into the kitchen to make tea.

5. Dance – You are expected to dance at every function, barring funerals. And dance well. And remember the lyrics to all the all-time popular Bollywood songs and sing them along while you dance. And wear colourful clothes. The distant hint of a music should stir up something so magical in you that automatically you will get up from your seat and start grooving your waist and hands in sync and tap your feet simultaneously and shake your head as well and not pant even once and then and then only will you be deemed the Grand Dancer of the family. Inability to do this every time you are asked to, will result in great humiliation the likes of which will prevent you from showing up at other family functions.


All a game of angles and attitude.

P.S This is supposed to be inherent. Sadly it cannot be built.

Disclaimer: This post is not an attempt to boost  the tourism sector of the country. The only purpose this post serves to provide is to present the Indian state of mind.

This post will be followed by another one which will attempt to analyze the workings of the New Age 21st century Indian and Indian Sadhus.

The Bihari in Me

It is 2013 and we live in modern India where every other child – from the helper at the tea stall to the student who aspires to go abroad for further education- aspires to speak the very best English he knows and showcase it to his audience at disposal, namely his associates. I, on the other hand, acknowledge very proudly that I can speak Bhojpuri with as much fluency as I can speak Bengali.

For reference, Bengali is my mother tongue ( it is actually the language spoken at my paternal grandparent’s house, I really don’t know why we call it mother tongue!) and Sindhi is my mother tongue(the actual mother tongue, as it is spoken at my maternal grandparents’ house) and Hindi is our national language. And English is our official language. Ironically, among all I am the most fluent in English in all aspects of language measurement tests i.e. reading, writing and conversing. And Bhojpuri, which seemingly should have no link to my life in any way forms the central crux of it, at least till this phase lasts.

Let me rewind back here a bit and explain the background of the language. Bhojpuri is the language spoken in Bihar, the most backward state in India since our independence. For long and even still Bihar has been associated with corrupt politicians, riot-loving-people and low literacy rate. But there is another side to the story. Bihar is the only consistent Indian state to be credited for sending a record breaking number of IAS/IPS/IFS officers, every year, to serve the nation. Although every Indian knows this little fact about Biharis, they are often looked down upon in a society of sophisticated people. And the main factor which contributes to this humongous loss to the nation is the language spoken by them. BHOJPURI.

Bhojpuri is often called in an Indian colloquial way as Dehati, or village-like. I agree the way they speak it, it does sound like. Maybe because of the extended way of lazy talk, or replying back to a question with another question or maybe because they say Kahe and mind it, kahe pretty much sums it up for non-biharis.

I am ashamed to admit that even I was one among them, the wannabe sophisticated people with all their posh English and intellectual talks. But college changed it all for me, where I became great friends with a guy from Benaras. He had a slight Bhojpuri-cum-Benarasi-cum-UPite accent and I got influenced very quickly. So much so, I began saying, pankha toh band kar do na or batti toh bujha do na and hum nehi na bataye the tumko. I admit most of it stemmed from the fact that my friends found it hilarious, but then I saw Gangs of Wasseypur and practised it like a religion. My parents were disturbed, they thought I was planning to shift to Bihar and settle there permanently. At a point even I was shocked by my vulgarity while talking in Bhojpuri. But to my credit I found that some 90 million people speak the language, so not all hell will break loose if I get added to it. Seriously people, give the language some credit! Actually, I apologise. I don’t need credit. In fact please don’t give it any credit at all. If you have continued your existence till now without giving any sensible thought to the language, you do not deserve to give it credit now.

For those of you who are still reading, you must be curious as to why a 21st century girl would be interested in learning Bhojpuri. And the answer is that, it is a beautiful language. As sweet as Bengali sounds to hear and Gujrathi to say. Indians have so long marked it as a lowly language and even Biharis refrain from talking in Bhojpuri when they live outside Bihar. But I hope this post can change the mind set of at least one person.

You knew you grew up in India in 90s

1. Parle-G Biscuits

Because it was value for money biscuit and tasted good.

Parle G

2. Shaktimaan

Because he was our first desi superhero and we just could not get enough of him.



Superman and Spiderman still had a long way to go before their foray into mainstream Indian entertainment.

3. Doordarshan

The first channel we knew existed and only for the sole purpose of watching Shaktimaan. The only other purpose the channel served was to help you get bored to sleep.


4. Hum Paanch

Because every Indian girl knew she was similar to one of the five girls on the show.



And that fact that Vidya Balan had acted in it then made absolutely no difference to us.

4. If you spent a lot of time figuring out which one was better

Big Babool or Boomer

main-qimg-6e7e79e610690ff779a954bce3a29d94                              main-qimg-59d1e33373fc8a6d9b7cf052f4d93ae7


But it did not matter, because wrigley’s wiped out the market soon enough


5. You got used to seeing two roses kissing and electric lightning and hearing sound of thunder at the start of any passionate scene in a Bollywood movie.


6. When you played Mario and Alladin on the PC

images (1) super-mario-bros-duck-hunt-u-_001


8. Acronyms like  DDLJ, DTPH, KKHH, HAHK make complete sense to us

220px-Kuch_Kuch_Hota_Hai_DVD_Cover hum-aapke-hain-koun

10. When you have seen Antakshari on the tv so many times, yet you do not remember anyone else other than Anu Kapoor being on the show

antakshari001 hqdefault (2)

11. Sunday morning tv meant “Jungle Jungle Baat Chali Hai Pata Chala Hai! Chaddi Pehen Ke Phool Khila Hai Phool Khila Hai!” The Jungle Book aired every Sunday morning at 9.a.m and we just loved mowgli, bhalu and bagheera.

jungle book

For elders, and especially if you have grandparents living with you, Sunday mornings could also very sadly turn into Mahabharata with the televised series of the epic tale aired on Doordarshan. Which tormented child can forget the unmistakable sound of “Mahabhaaaaaaaaaraata” playing in the background during the show?


12. When you catch yourself humming the tune of “Main to raste se jaa raha tha, Main to Bhelpuri Kha Raha Tha. Tujhe mirchi Lagi to Main Kya Karoon.”





Because you were bored of listening to Vico Turmeric then and now.

Vicco Turmeric,Nahi cosmetic.
Vico Turmeric Ayurvedic Cream
Keel-Muhaso ko Jad Se MItaaye
Haldi-Chandan ke Gun Ismein Samaye.
Twacha ki Raksha Kare, Ayurvedic Cream
Vico Turmeric WSO cream.

14. And also


Ghadi detergent-Pehele istemal kare fir vishwas kare

15.When we thought of MTV in 90s, Cyrus Brocha was the main face.



He was the coolest thing back then on the tv.

16. When you watched it badly to impress that girl, in your class, with your quizzing ability.


17. When you know which detergent brand hema rekha jaya aur sushma like.

Washing powder nirma
Washing powder nirma
Doodh si safedi
Nirma se aaye
Rangeen kapde bhi
Khil khil jaaye
Sabki pasand nirma…
Washing powder nirma

Nirma_0 nirma-dancing-girl


18. Because Windows 98 was in vogue and Road Rash was the third coolest game around. Nothing gave us more pleasure than beating the policeman who came chasing after us.

win98-2-1 419746_359034700807475_1422499832_n 295302_431213333589611_1286549803_n

19. When lattu, gilli danda, golli were not played for the sake of passing time, but as a matter of prestige.

images jbm_4169 gilli-dandaWorld in my hands

20. Also when it was raining outside, you’d rather just play with your trump cards. Of American WWE stars.


21. When Frooti came in green packets and not yellow


22. Every school kid had a Milton Water Bottle hung around their necks.


23. Maruti 800 was the car of the decade and Ambassador came second.


24. Yeh dil maange more was not a movie but a style statement



25. Casettes and tape recorders were still considered cool


26. Fashion TV was the only thing closest to Porn.


27. Excite Bike

Again, the 4th coolest game of the last decade.


28. Brick Game

Who hasn’t spent hours at this?

310169_271328106244802_1239684564_n 347383586_1370856501


29. Because summers meant chuski and rooh-afza

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32. Because Melody was there way before Eclairs


31. Because this gadget was as cool as it got