Namaste! Wish you a very, very happy independence day!
This day is all the more significant for me this year, since I am out of the country!! Having always been a person steeped in organic India, savouring its arts, culture and heritage, I have always appreciated and loved our country and been a rather fanatic Indian all the while (as all of you probably know more than me). And I thought I could not get more "Indian", but living abroad for a few months makes you realise all the more what you have back home -- INDEPENDENCE!! If you're thinking, what the heck, it's not like you're gaoled... imagine something as simple as having to carrying a bulky copy of your passport in your handbag all the time, and you'll understand what you have! :-)
And it is amazing how much the Australians respect Indians -- NOT for the intelligence, NOT for the natural tan or the black eyes, NOT for persistence, or anything else -- but for our HERITAGE! Some Aussies claim they are jealous of us Indians because we have such a rich heritage (the word is so virtuous because it signifies a cutlural 'inheritance'), which they, as a nation of immigrants do not have. A bus driver saw me running down towards the bus stop in the city, and waited to take me on board... he wanted to chat about Indian culture. A friend tells me how her Professor's wife invited her over to dinner and made dal (with a recipe she got from the Internet) for her! Another told me how the bus driver waived the ticket fare because she was an "Indian Indian"!!
Many of you probably appreciate our culture and heritage and INDEPENDENCE already, but in case not, please try to make a conscious effort to understand it -- for every custom you follow, try to find out why or how it came about (for example, we pierce our ears and nose not because it is funky but because it has an acupuncture effect, we wear the toe-ring not just to "show" that we are married, but because it exerts force on a nerve that strengthens the uterus); try to appreciate our cultural inheritance in the form of music, dance, frescoes, bead-work etc; our architectural and artistic prowess in the temples and monuments; and God's gift in the form of our mighty mountains, vibrant rivers, and unconquerable seas! The first step is appreciation, then understanding, then spreading this consciousness to others.
Wish you a wonderful time exploring India!! Don't rely on Google for the info, YouTube for the videos and MusicIndiaOnline for the music -- get into your kurta-pyjamas or saris, get out there, and savour organic India, LIVE! If you're on this journey of discovery, we are sure to bump into each other some day, because I am too :-)