Saturday, February 13, 2010

When dreams come true..

When I was a kid one of my cousins got us this little table prop which said

"I came to America because I heard that streets here were paved with gold. When I came I learned three things:
first: streets in America are not paved with gold;
second: streets in America are not paved at all;
third: I am expected to pave them."

Yet the reality of the situation does not hit anyone till they actually land here. Each day I'm more and more convinced that good old India (with its 1.1 billion population and it's corrupt politicians and love/worship of cricket) is far more developed that the US is or will be.

We've been told that the first step to victory is realising your faults (or something like that..). I think I can safely say no one in India (except maybe the BJP) has any illusions of where we really stand and what we really are. We are a poor developing country with no money and lot - and I mean LOTS of mouths to feed. We know we have the second largest slum in Asia with a 40 storey mansion right at the centre of it. We know we have the Coovum and that 50% of us have TB. We know that the men in saffron are complete maniacs who cause us constant amusement(well, cause me constant amusement - (does that guy honestly think people take him seriously? I want to know...)), we know that our hospitals are not the best in the world.

But.. but but but.. our hospitals(the govt one) don't demand you have insurance or pay 5000 rupees for prescribing you an antibiotic. They may not treat you like a princess but you don't have to be rich to give birth in one. You don't have to worry about the smallest tooth ache and how much it's going to cost you if you go to a dentist. And most of all, the government isn't run by insurance companies, is it??

Also, since all of us know exactly where we stand, we know the importance and value of hard work. We know what our paybacks are. We see - with our own eyes - what happens if we fail to work hard or if we do not study. The big bad world isn't shielded from us all the time with a shiny pink wrapper like it is in the US. In the US, it's almost as if poor people do not exist. Ask your average kid if she/he knows about the homeless or people on social security. They don't know any such person - have probably never spoken to one and think they're from a different planet at best. The kids are told to dream(which is good) but not what they need to do to make those dreams come true. We aren't told either, but then again, we don't need to be told. We see the ends of both roads in front of us all the time.

We're prudent at worst. We don't run up debts buying frivolous things all the time (most of us - not all). That is not saying we don't borrow money at all - but we think twice. And we most certainly don't buy the latest Channel outfit on borrowed money. Our mistrust of anything 'foreign' stops us from using our credit card the first time we get one. We find out what it means, what we have to do and the minute they tell us you have to pay more money if you exceed your limit. We shudder and decide we'll just use cash or debit card unless that stupid site absolutely denies us the use of one! We definitely don't run our whole economy down.

We're poor, yes. More than half of the country is below the poverty line, true. But do you realise that when we run out of our natural resources and destroy our planet completely and global warming takes over, it is that half which will survive? Provided they aren't drowned in the rising sea first of course. The live the natural life. No plastic. No CFCs. No space heaters. Just a colour TV in every house to keep them connected.

Finally, I believe that America is no longer a land where a child can dream. India is. We have free education. Till one finishes college. Half the kids here don't go to college because they can't afford it. Well, half the kids in India don't go to college because they can' afford it, you say. I say, no that isn't true. There, people don't go to college because they have to work 24/7 instead. College education itself is free (or nearly so). Here, people don't have to work 24/7. In fact they can be 'well off' and still not be able to afford a college education. You know this.. You have an uncle/aunty/cousin/sibling who cribbed about it to you..

So, to all those who did/do/will ask me where I want to settle down 'finally', well, the answer's kinda obvious, isn't it?

Oh, oh.. not to forget the fact that you just don't get anything which remotely resembles a good cup of coffee on this continent! Also, the spell check keeps insisting that c.o.l.o.u.r is wrong. That's just weird. Most importantly, Americans measure temperature in farenheit *shudder* and distance in miles *more shudders*