No Land’ Man

3 05 2017

Well, this title came to me long time ago because this is what I have ended up becoming. A no land’s man. However, a google search for the phrase gave a result that this is already the title of a book by Asif Mandvi, an Indian-American actor. But I will stick to the title for this post because I thought of it originally unaware of Asif’s book and secondly because this is what I have become a no land’s man.

 

Image result for india europe

I do not know if this is a good thing or bad. I just know that this is what I have become.

Now, I have always considered myself a nationalist. Not a nationalist in terms of how the word has been concocted these days. But nationalist in terms of being proud of my country and its glorious history and its hopeful future and the small achievements that it has had. Nationalist, not at the cost of putting other countries or cultures down but nationalist in the sense of accepting the sweet with the bitter. Not at the cost of hating China or Pakistan but nationalist in the sense of proudly saluting my National flag.

And then there is another side to me – the western, European. Some of the Europeans friends in fact have said this to me that I am as European in terms of my thinking and behavior as anyone who has been born there and lived there. I understand and appreciate the so called western values of acceptance and independence and freedom of choice and equality.

And yet I do not know who I am. These days everything is so politicized. You are either a rightist or a leftist, nothing in between. Either you are a Hindu-phobic or you are a Hindu fanatic. A liberal or a religious idiot! Nothing in between! I like my religion and I am proud of it. It makes me happy that I follow a religion that is all accepting, allows you to question the existence of God. It even allows you to be an atheist. It allows you to follow any path you want as long as it adheres to Dharma or righteousness. It allows me to bow my head in front of a Cross. It allows me to enter a mosque without any sense of guilt. I like how it allows evolution with time. I like how it has never contradicted the findings of modern science. But then in the eyes of the liberals – I am a Hindu fanatic. And yet I know I am not. But again who am I?

I lived in Europe knowing that I will go back to India one day. I went back. Things didn’t work out like I planned and then I again came back to Europe. I am very happy to be back here. But I also know that I miss India. However, when I was back there, there were so many things that I didn’t like about India. And yet now, I know I want to go back. It is just confusing. Or so it seems.

When I walk on the streets here, I can feel that I am a bit different. It is not so much the color of my skin which makes me realize this difference – it’s the values that I have been brought up on. What I want from life is different than an average person that I see here.

And yet, I have changed. The same values which make me realize this difference between an average European and me – these exact values do not seem to be Indian either. In India I can feel this difference too. When I say something, not everyone in India agrees with me. Neither my family nor my friends. For them, my thoughts are westernized. They are influenced by the Europeans. My mind has rather been corrupted in the land of the whites because hey – every white person is racist and UNESCO has declared that Indian culture is the best culture in the world. (By the way this was sarcasm – another thing we Indians are not good at understanding).

My parents say that I am caught between the cultures – neither here nor there. I am neither an Indian nor German, so to say. But then again, why do I need an identity like this? Why cannot I just be me? When will this end? What am I going to teach my son? Be like Ram, or Bhakta Pralhad. Take care of your parents when you get old. But hey, be independent. Leave your house when you are fourteen but do not forget to call me every day. At least send a WhatsApp forward every morning please.

Is this also a form of globalization that we evolve into a new species? And to evolve from one form of beauty to another, maybe we go through something ugly? Am I that ugly link between the east and the west? Do I even belong anywhere?





A Friendly and almost Real Guide for Indians Living and Traveling to Zürich and perhaps Switzerland – Part I

6 04 2013

Part Eins – <The Swiss>

swiss_flag 

The Swiss in general are nice people. They are, as long as you don’t poke them in the eye, or their forehead (Statistically proven). They smile at you even if you don’t smile back. Of course courtesy dictates that when someone smiles at you, you need to smile back at them, whether Swiss or non-Swiss.

The Swiss are always on time. In Switzerland, unlike in India, you do not tell your friends that you will see them sometime in the evening. What you have to tell them is that you’ll see them on Wednesday the 18th at 18:38 hours (at least a week in advance). A wise man once told me, “In Switzerland, on time is late.

The Swiss like to keep everything clean. Now unlike what many of us like to believe, cleanliness is not  a relative concept. Clean, here means absolutely clean. Like the mythical absolute zero k that drives scientists mad. When you look, for example, through a glass window, basically no part of the glass or anything on it should be visible. I think its called spec clean. Cleaning the kitchen doesn’t just mean cleaning what is normally visible to the eye but also those parts that you can’t see even if you tried hard, like the upper rim of the door. Alanis Morissette, I was told, wasn’t allowed to perform her songs from the album, Under Rug Swept when she was in Zürich

The Swiss do have a few quirks which I guess the Auslanders should respect. Some of the things that define a Swiss are:

1) Not talking loudly on the phone or even otherwise.

2) Being sad on the cloudy day.

3) Being extremely fit, physically.

4) Similar capacity as Germans to consume alcohol and not bragging about it.

5) Being rich and believing that the whole world is a happy place to be in.

So the moral of the story is, the Swiss are generally nice people. They are friendly and do’t like to be bothered much.





Cool Physicists and Poor Chemists

8 03 2012

All science is either Physics or stamp collecting

~ Ernest Rutherford, the father of nuclear physics.

Normally when I ask my Physics friends, “what are you working on these days?” they answer something on the lines of string theory, relativistic quantum effects or dark matter or looking out for some supernova or you know, one of those cool sounding words. Contrast that with my Chemist friends who answer me something like, synthesis of second fragment of a taxol or characterizing my sample with IR or one of those things about no one seems to care much.

My Physicists friend might grumble but then isn’t it true that what a chemist does, affects the general public, or aam aadmi, directly? I mean would you rather prefer a cheaper paracetamol or would it be better if someone told you that some star exploded a few thousand light years away? But then ask people names of famous scientists and what you would hear is Einstein, Newton, Heisenberg, Feynman. You would surely not hear them say Langmuir, Fischer, Wittig or Hoffmann. I mean who cares who was responsible for the wonderful windshield of your car that dries off almost immediately when you would rather be happy about knowing that “the force between the elctrons is an exchange force arising from the exchange of virtual photons.”

Not just that. Physics has wonderful jokes too. You have jokes about Pascal and Newton playing hide-n-seek. You have movies on Heisenberg, Einstein. They are natural philosophers who write wonderful quotes about religion and ethics and say what God doesn’t like to play with. Then there are these legendary stories of Archimedes running nude and apples falling on heads. And then those wonderful T-shirt captions on the lines of “Gravity is a myth. The earth sucks.

Meanwhile we are stuck with one single joke that we repeat everywhere. “My name is bond. Ionic bond.” We don’t have legendary stories except perhaps the elucidation of ring structure when whats-his-name was sleeping and dreamt of snakes. The discovery of fullerene, beautiful molecules that looks like football, might make good movie but then do we care? Even the super-villians are more engineers or biologists who don’t have to sit in front of a foot long column separating R and S isomers of some poisonous chemical. Who cares when we say that we have 117 elements on the last count as opposed to the great GOD who has only 5?


Anyway, why am I whining? Hopefully one of us would be the next savior of humanity or something. May be then, we might get a bit of respect. At this moment all that I can do is take a potshot. No, it won’t be directed at my software engineer friends. They earn 10 times more than I do for their “work”. The above quoted Ernest Rutherford who called my poor chemistry as mere stamp collection, got a Nobel Prize in 1908 in, hold your breath, C-H-E-M-I-S-T-R-Y. **** on that.






How I failed my Driving Test!!

23 06 2011

..and managed to pass later without paying a bribe.

Finally after a lot of deliberations, I took up driving. Yes I did.

Many people, including my parents were after me to learn driving. But I would refuse. Reasons being:

1) I prefer public transport. And well, Bangalore has awesome bus service.

2) I love my cycle. Four wheelers cause more pollution and I plan to not buy one unless I just have to.

3) It increases your workload when you have to keep going to the railway station and airports to pickup guests.

But anyway, obedient son that I am, I enrolled myself for the driving classes. And awesome as I am, I picked it up really well and really fast. And then came the part that I dread. Official work. A driving test to get my learners license.

I reached RTO on time. Stood in lines like a good citizen. Then I was made to write a test. Simple test really. They asked 15 questions. Passing was 10. And well, good as I am in written tests, I finished the exam in may be 3 minutes. Submitted my answer sheet and waited for the results.

The traffic guy called my name and said I had got 12 out of 15. And then he said, “You pay 20 rs mandatory donation and collect your learners license.” and ironically handed me a “Mera Bharat Mahaan” sticker.  The rest of the conversation went thus:

Me: “mandatory” donation? What does that even mean?

Police: For army welfare.

Me: I am not interested.

Police: you got 9 out of 15, you failed. We managed to give you passing marks.

Me: But that’s cheating.

Police: We did it for you. Don’t waste our time.

Me: So is it a bribe or are you guys begging?

At this, the policeman got really angry. Said something about me failing in Kannada and asked me something in kannada. I said, if I have failed I will write the exam again. And I did. So as far as I can remember, I had flunked for the first time in my life. But I was happy.

Stood in the lines again and blah blah. And well, I passed without having to pay any bribe.

And well, doing this good  deed sort of gives me a right to give some gyan. We often find ourselves in situation where it is “convenient” to bribe someone to avoid “Zanzat”. But hey, take a step and do something right. It might cause you some physical discomfort but then you will be able to sleep happily. Believe me.

Have my permanent Driving License test on 30th. More on that later if something interesting happens.