Ok, it’s our Independence day. It’s the day when India gained the freedom to make it’s own mistakes, to quote what Gandhiji had said once…
But I was not celebrating independence today. Woke up at 11 AM(11:30 PM in India, half an hour to the Midnight of that dawned…) and realized that the software companies in India had finished celebrating our Independence on the 14th as it was a working day. Then I got dressed and with a few friends, went out to Wal-Mart, apparently the most famous and amazingly cheap store of the US. The concept of Wal-Mart is inspiring but it’s fodder for another blog post, so, later…
The Bill was about $78 for three people(reason- we had a girl in our midst!).
While returning, we boarded a bus from outside Wal-Mart and told the driver to take us to the closest Bus Station. When we had settled, the driver started the bus and without turning, softly said to us three Indians- Happy Independence Day.
I looked at the driver. He was an American. He was educated. He was an educated enough American to know that three Indians had boarded his bus. He did not assume that we were Pakistanis. He knew for sure that we were Indians. I know this as he said that Pakistan had gained independence a day before us and all he had noticed was that we were speaking in Hindi.
So here I was, sitting in the heart of the US of A with two Indian friends and getting wished by an American on a date which is of grave consequence for every Indian and which we had completely forgotten about. For a second, it was a haze. Was this true? Was this happening? Really? Wow.
I looked at my friends. They were as amazed as I was. This was weird beyond a great degree. I talked to the driver a bit more. He knew a bit about India but a lot more than one would expect him to know. He knew we had a bit of a tiff with the Chinese. He knew we had a nuclear bomb, though not the year when we got it. That was a piece of fact even I didn’t remember! He even had a stereotypical view about some clans in India. I was glad to clarify that India has never been a nation of Attackers but instead defenders. We only retaliated in case there was a threat against us. He was glad to have to talked to me. I was still in shock when our destination came.
I got down. The air was fresh, the wind was a light breeze and caressed my face with a loving touch. The sky was a deep blue color with the clouds playing with the setting sun. This was a foreign nation. Back in my country, people we getting up and wishing each other a Happy Independence Day. I looked at my friends and wished them a Happy Independence Day, with a twist.