Friday, April 3, 2009
Six years is a significantly long period for someone to be away from ones home. And as more time passes, the more distant you seem to grow. You seldom are the same person who left a good deal of time ago. And by the time you return those near and dear around you certainly can feel the difference.
I left India as a naive 18 year old, who frankly had little or no comprehension of what he was going to see and experience in a distant foreign land.
I'm 23 now, and after six years in St.Petersburg, the experience has been more than rewarding.
I came here to study medicine, but in turn learned a lot more. Theoretical education is something that one can gain frankly anywhere, but the key lessons in life arise out of personal experience, especially in a solitary atmosphere.
I have a lot of gratitude towards Russia. Through more ways than one it has brought out the very best within me. It has taught me to be independent, strong, and frankly taught me to think for myself.
The thing is, if you constantly live under the shadow of your parents or guardians, irrespective of the fact that they mean well, you will seldom ever be able to harvest your own personal thought.
And hence the very ability to think for yourself, thus disappears.
Its almost time for me to return to India bidding this country farewell for good.
But the mood within me is neither ecstatic nor even the least bit joyous.
My country unfortunately does not exactly paint a pretty picture.
Yes we are on top of the world, we have a booming economy and have a hyperactive middle class. But as a people, I believe we are far from perfect.
When I arrived in St.Petersburg six years ago, we were ragged mercilessly by my fellow Indian "brethren".
There were no hellos or helping us around in a foreign country. For them, the main priority was to rag us to shreds in the first few days we came here.
People talk of being racially abused by foreigners when you are in their country, but what would you say if you were abused by you own countrymen in a foreign country?
On the contrary, since I live in a foreigners hostel most of my closest friends have been either Sri Lankans, Mauritians and Africans. They have been quite helpful to me. And contrary to the stuck up communist picture the Americans have painted about the Russians, they are actually quite a warm, friendly people, who are ever curious about our so called Indian "culture".
I read this news article where a boy in a medical collage was killed in a ragging incident in India. I frankly have since been thanking my stars that I did not get admission in an Indian medical collage.
There are Arabs, Chinese, Africans, Sri Lankans and Russians living in my hostel, and not one of them has ever ragged their fellow country men when they first came here.
On another note, the Russian medical graduates in India are considered incompetent and unfit to practice medicine.
The general feeling is, that a medical graduate from an unheard of hamlet in India can be a splendid doctor, while someone who studied at one of the best schools of medicine in Russia is nothing short of a quack.
Why is Russia bad? Because any university that accepts students irrespective of their caste and doesn't demands hideous sums of money in the name of "donations" is bound to be bad.
When back in India I told a doctor that I am studying medicine in Russia, he made a face as though I just barfed in front of him.
Such is the grand welcome I am going to receive when I return.
Indians must be the only race which can make their own countrymen feel bad.
Besides, their total lack of self respect can be seen in the world of cinema itself.
Only an Indian will act in a film which showcases Indians as a barbaric monkey brain eating race (Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom), and frankly Slumdog didn't exactly improve our reputation as a civilized race either. Agreed we have problems(which country doesn't?), but that doesn't give the right to an outsider (read Danny Boyle) to showcase it to the world. Who cares if the world now thinks that India is an exotic land of snake charming, minority persecuting natives who are poor to boot? At least we won two Oscars.
Suppose Danny Boyle went to China to make a film about the oppression of the Tibetans by the Chinese government, you can very well assume the sort of welcome he would get.
With the way things are going, I can guarantee India is going to lose a bulk of its educated youth to foreign countries just on account of the fact that it does precious little to make them feel welcome at home.
Its ironic that we spend crores on the Incredible India campaigns to woo foreigners, but do nothing of the sort to keep the educated strata of society from leaving the country in search for greener pastures.
If this goes on what will remain behind will be the uneducated remainder of the populace basking under the glory of a corrupt government.
Its no small wonder that most NRIs seldom return home.
I for one certainly have begun having second thoughts about returning home. But then again, as ironic as life can be, I choose to return. Mainly for my family, which is ever anxious to see me back. Not for any patriotic reasons.
The only good thing right now is that the majority of the youth are beginning to realise the problems faced within the moral strata of our country and are willing to come forward and speak out against oppression(read Pink Chaddi campaign).
And hopefully as the awareness grows, the better it is for the country to awaken to a brighter future.