Friday, April 03, 2009

The Migrant and Outsourced Ones!

I saw a great movie yesterday, named "Primeval,” really scary, too. In it an actor, an African-American says, “Man, anything you do to get out of Africa is a good thing.” Really?

Now HBO and Star Movies have English sub-titles and that’s a good thing. A lot of things are clearer, and you have a better sense of the plot and what’s happening. Earlier I didn't understand Hollywood movies, all that very much, I confess. Most importantly, regardless of what is happening around you (the pre-dinner maelstrom of son’s tantrums, hunger pangs, phone calls, raucous children outside), you can understand what’s going on on television. Sub-titling, I feel, is better than dubbing Hollywood movies into Hindi. Movie watching is a pleasure. Thanks, mucho!

But, I digress. Where was I? Yeah. This character, an expatriate African, used to the good life is really so repulsed by what’s happening in his home continent that he says “getting out” is a “good thing.” Do our own NRIs also feel that way? Having been an NRI for a brief while (one year actually, in the kingdom of Saudi Arabia) I can understand the feeling very well! When I got back, it was as if I had entered a strange distant planet peopled by the great unwashed multitudes who travel in crammed trains and buses. But I wonder why I haven't immigrated again, why I stuck to India.

The reason is not far to seek. Today I was in a train compartment so full of people that due partly to the closely packed bodies and because of the oppressive heat everyone was sweating. And no one was complaining. In Europe, Americas, why even Africa, people would have killed each other if they were cooped up in such narrow spaces. But here we adjust, and we compromise, we aren’t welcoming of change, so much so that we hold on to our chicken coop mentality so well described in Adiga’s “White Tiger”. (In Kerala it’s common for chicken thieves to pour water over chicken in the night, which make them docile and silent, before abducting them. Only difference is that in India it’s sweat, not water that people are washed with.) If anything goes wrong, even if terrorists attack us, or the floods wash over us, we "adjust" and go on as if nothing happened. No it isn't the great bounce-back-to-normal spirit as much as the lack-of-viable-alternatives that is behind this.

En Passant

Recently with the coming of outsourcing centres, I guess the world is doing business the Indian way, more than India doing business their way, or the international way. Another movie I saw recently was “Outsourced” (Ayesha Dharkar is fantabulous!) which does portray an outsourcing unit with some semblance of truth.

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