Thursday, December 31, 2009

Viva America

People are celebrating halloween in india now...waiting for the day we'll have 4th of July fireworks. Viva Ameerika!

That's what my FB status message read around last Halloween. Some of my friends reacted quite sharply to it, labelling me as no-fun and an anti-American. Now i take serious offence to that. Not the no-fun part. I largely agree to being a no-fun boring kind of a guy. But i have serious reservartions against being labelled an anti-American. Because i love America. I’ve never been to America, but I have this genuine love for some things American, not all, but most. I love America as I know it, these images I get of America through Hollywood, media, American sitcoms, music and popular culture.

I love films, and you cannot love cinema and be oblivious to Hollywood. Hollywood of 70s (which I only saw later), 80s and 90s played a huge part in discovering my love for cinema. Well most of Hollywood fare is utter crap but then there are some gems every now and then. I love American sitcoms, they’ve got more easy humour than British ones. I love the Stand up comedians. I love the whole idea of New York. I want to spend at least 6 months of my life there. Soak up on all the urban ‘culture’. Watch Musicals (they are unarguably the best in the world), visit pubs and listen to underground bands, jazz acts, stand ups video artists. Be part of The Central Park and the Times Square of hurried, smug people. Of warm and clipped smiles. Be part of the cosmopolitan jamboree that New York is.

How can I love a place without ever being there? Well, I haven’t met Madhuri Dixit also, but boy, don’t even get me started on how much I love her. Yes, even now.

One can always divide oneself into being a hindu or a muslim, gujarati or a Bengali, south Indian or a northeasterner and then there’s this whole thing about being a world citizen. But I believe after being an Indian, more than anything else, we are American. The urban Indian life imitates American lifestyle. And it is true for most of the countries around the world. We are bombarded by everything American (some of them excellent, some good and some bad). You switch on the TV and the sitcoms you love are all American, the music you mostly like is American, so is the fast food you so love, the language you pass off as English is American. For a country colonised by brits for over 200 years, we are more American than we are British. We drop our easy on tongue American and put on our best Liverpudlian accent only to sound exotic. You go to “fookin hell” or "let’s rob sum ciggies fellas" only when you want to sound different.

We have the same kind of family values and melodramatic ideas about patriotism and social behaviour. Are homophobic, and have closeted ideas about sexuality as Americans do. Only they being a ‘first world country’ and us being ‘third world country’, there are differences in how we approach them, but the basic structure of society is the same. Being American makes us feel at home. Gives us a sense of belonging. For example, sometime back a couple of my friends were traveling through Cambodia and Vietnam. They were sick of eating ‘exotic’ asian food and then they saw a McDonalds and they immediately felt ‘at home’. That’s how American we are.