New Seven Wonders of the world...
... proud to say that Taj Mahal is one of them. (Not that I did anything wee-bit towards it ;) )
This raises a few questions. Why is it that then I am proud of that Taj Mahal, which I don't even remember seeing once, made into the seven wonders of the world?
The only few who should be proud are those who contributed towards its construction, who are long gone now, and those who are currently contributing towards protecting it. They deserve an applause.
Is it patriotism to be proud of any achievement that I am not even remotely connected to? What difference should it have made had Taj Mahal been in Nepal, say? Should I be not proud that the Great Wall of China is still a part of the Seven Wonders? Isn't it mother earth that we all reside in?
Where does the "my circle" begin and end? When in school, kids would cheer for one sect of the class he (I did my major schooling in a boys school) supported. Then, when it came to a bigger match, "we" became the division that one belonged to. Now, on an all-school competition, the "we" now is my whole "Standard" ("Grade" in US lingo). Everything else seems "alien". But all of a sudden, for an interschool competition, "we supported" "our school". It was not much of a surprise that it soon became "our district", "our state".
I thought the next obvious step was "patriotism" and "we" would be "people of our country" when I stepped into US for my Masters education on August 5th 2001. I expected that the group that moved together would be bound by the common thread of India. Also definitely expecting an interweaving into the host culture.
I was mistaken, by a mile. I was shocked to find "Tamil" gangs, "Telugu" gangs, etc! The cricket teams were made by this lingo-based seperation! I had zero respect for this split. It is agreed that it is easy to converse better on a known language. But, 21 years of schooling in English, 2 years of preparation for a 650+/800 Verbal score in GRE, and breeze on TOEFL, was for what? What about Hindi? National Language exists not as another 3rd Standard GK question.
I see myself really fortunate to hail from a country that has so much of varied culture and heritage. But, the culmination point of that should not be to retrieve into water-tight shells, when put face to face. To eat dal makhani with my buddy from Punjab, and to shed tears for a bit of Gonghura chutney from Andhra... I am proud! I am proud to state that I could learn at least a few dozen Kannada words in the last couple of years. The fact that we have different cultures and different language at home is not to mean that it has to remain the same way when left out of the box.
But, planting one self in the US provides a lot of other opportunities. US brings together a lot of other cultures - people from US (of course :) ), China, India, Kenya... the list goes on. I find myself really lucky to be in the mix. And I find it an opportunity wasted for those who pull into the self-defined-"we" cove.
Enough said on an aimless ramble, I would like to re-iterate "I love my country and I am proud of its rich and varied heritage!"