Our dirty little habits

We are proud Indians but sometimes, I wonder if we are nothing but a confused nation. We seem to want to ape the rest of the world and when it comes to fashion, music and clothes we’ve done a pretty good job. Young girls and boys wearing traditional attire are novelty items, knowing how to play the mrudangam or the sitar is considered extremely traditional and even listening to Indian classical music is “so not cool”. We adopted their ideas of culture but, somehow were unable to do the same with their ideas of civic responsibility and sense.

Dressed up in the best branded clothes money can buy, you set off from home in your fancy car or bike and then you suddenly pull up at the side of the road. You get out, and blissfully ignorant of the passing traffic, you whip out your stuff and generously water the ground. This is mainly a guy thing and I’m sorry to have targeted you first but, when I think of “our dirty little habits”, this is the first thing that comes to mind. Use a public toilet for crying out loud!! I know you’re going to say that they are in decrepit condition and they stink and are dirty but have you thought that perhaps if you used them instead of the space next to a bus stop, there would be an incentive to maintain them better!?! I have passed walls that smell so strongly of urine I’ve had to hold my breath and run to get away before I threw up. Keep it in your pants you guys!!

From a nation of starving people, we’ve become one where the fitness industry is booming. What does that say, huh? We’ve come a long way.sign-34162_640 We spend hours in the gym to get into shape, but, we can’t expend even a couple of calories to walk to a dustbin to throw away an empty soft drink bottle or a packet of chips or used tissue paper. Now I know there aren’t many accessible garbage cans and I even have a friend who wants to get a ‘garbage control organization’ running once she has retired to deal with India’s garbage problem, so I feel your pain. But, you have a dustbin at home don’t you? Put the waste in your bag or pocket and dispose of it at home! It isn’t that hard.

Finally, I think our worst habit is that most of us spread disunity without even realizing it. We are a big country full of people with the tendency to look at someone and brand them as North Indian or South Indian and then decide that they must have a certain attitude before even getting to know them. It’s such a common characteristic among us, it’s quite pathetic. Being proud of where you are from is great, but, looking down on and making fun of people who are not from that place is wrong on so many levels. The other habits; urinating in public places and littering – they can be corrected quite easily. But, this is a mindset problem and much like trying to teach men that women and children are their equals, I’m afraid that this too might take a generation or two.

I’m Indian and I’m proud to be one. But, I know I could be prouder.

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Written for IndiSpire – 24 – Which bad habit of Indians would you like to change for our India?

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UBC13: Prayer

I’ve never been able to pray out loud except with my parents and brother during our evening prayers. One of my most embarrassing memories from school is stammering over the “Our Father” when I was asked to lead the rosary one week at my church. It’s a prayer I’ve known since before I could fully appreciate the deep meaning of the words, but I still drew a blank and had to be prompted. Since then, every time someone asks me to get up behind a mic and recite a common prayer, I’ve made sure I’ve had a copy of it in front of me. (For those of you who know me personally, I’m sure you don’t really believe me considering you are aware that I quite enjoy getting up in front of a crowd and talking…but, I promise you, it’s true).

I had pushed that childhood memory to the back of my mind but it came right back when my husband suggested becoming more regular hands-304398_640with our daily prayers and that I should lead. I did what anyone would do…I panicked. Me lead?? Erm… Even though I know in my heart it is a good idea, I still haven’t been able to get around to doing it.

So, I’ve done a lot of thinking and reading and I now realize that I’m uncomfortable, embarrassed and a little scared too, simply because for me prayer is a private conversation with God and not a group chat. Even if the group is just my husband and I. See, when I pray, I talk…like God is my buddy…I don’t usually say the prayers I learnt by heart when I was a child. I simply talk about my day, what I’m afraid of, what I’ve done and how I would like to be better. It’s not a conventional prayer in any sense. I admire people who can not only pray out loud with ease but also include everyone in the room in their prayer as well. As of last night, I still wasn’t one of those people. So, even though my husband suggested it and I know it’s a good plan, I still carry on with my silent prayers, hoping to be able to sit down with my husband and pray out loud in my own style one day. (I really hope that day is today).

What is your take on prayer? Do you deviate from the conventional recitation? Do you think you can pray out loud? Or like me, do you prefer private conversations?

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