That day we were supposed to be staging a dance show and we were getting ready when, draped in a beautiful light blue silk sari, accompanied with a friend of hers, meena walked in to the backstage. Meena had brightened up her eyes with a light streak of kajal and had tied her hair into a ponytail. She adorned her hair with a really beautiful metal flower kind of jewel and looked pretty. Her friend wore a pretty and a simple yellow sari and walked alongside smiling and looking at each and every participant. Here is something about these girls that you may not have suspected from this introduction. They are not Indians. They were foreigners who got so much involved in India and its rich culture. Their desire for the culture clearly reflected from the temple jewellery that meena was wearing and the Lord Nataraja dollar that the girl next to meena was wearing. It was a pretty dollar, nice and round, black in color and had a stone finish. Both meena and her friend even got themselves trained in Bharathanatyam and did quite a few shows too. Their involvement in India and its tradition was like no other I’ve ever seen. All of us in the backstage only knew meena but none of us knew anything about her new friend. Meena was from Bulgaria and visited India regularly to learn dance and to perform during the dance season (December – January). When enquired she introduced her friend to us, “This is my friend…” She said the name but could not catch it but left it not wanting to stop her. Meena continued, “She is also learning Bharathanatyam and she is from Czech Republic” she said and suddenly the girl interrupted meena and continued “… and now from India”, saying so she gave a sweet smile and looked around. It was a mixed bag of reactions in the room. There was certain hint of pride in her voice as she said those words. People were awestruck that a foreigner felt pride in being called an Indian and some were initially taken aback. I felt proud that I was an Indian, a status another foreigner desired to have.
This incident made me think, “when foreigners are falling in love with this diverse country, how any of us are proud to be a part of this diverse culture?” I’m not saying all people are like that or this sector of people are like that, but lets face it, there are people who are not that proud to be an Indian. But at the same time there are loads of people who are so proud of their very status of being called an “Indian”. But how many is the question.