Last week I had some guests at home.
Though they were of Indian origin, they had not been a part of my country for a long time. The husband was an American citizen who left India almost 25 years ago. The wife was an Australian who had never lived in India. Their laptop was stolen at Mumbai airport. The wife sheepishly admitted they were pretty lax when it came to such issues and the thought of locking their suitcases had not occurred to them. "We no longer have the habit" was what she said to be precise. Traffic snarls, potholes and numerous questions later, (What are these? Slums? Is it where Slumdog Millionnaire was shot? How come there are so many people on the roads? Why do trucks have Horn Please written? Isn't it impolite to honk here?) when we finally reached home, it was almost as long as their journey across an ocean and several seas. The weather was gloomy and it continuously rained which created further delays.
And I kept on thinking, what do they see when they look at my country? When they see barefoot children playing in the rain, do they see the poverty or do they see happy children? When they see policemen taking bribes from commuters, ( happened right in front of us) do they see how immune we have become to corruption? When their laptop went missing, did they think this was inevitable? And the unruly traffic and the constant honking? What do they think of that?
When they see my India, a country that I think is vibrant, colourful, confusing and endearing, what do they really see? A billion people working hard just to survive? A dirty, messy, smelly country? A country full of crooked people trying to con the foreigners? What do they see? Do they see the love?