“Do You Have Ice Cream in India?”

Rishav Dasgupta What are the chances that you will find ice cream on your trip to India? Or, if you are in the mood for some shopping, that you will find your favorite Zara? You all must be finding these questions silly. Trust me, I too find them ridiculous, but I have to patiently answer each of them all of the time. Sometimes statements are hurled that aren’t funny, statements that make me wonder if people are genuinely ignorant or have not yet understood the true meaning of diversity and inclusiveness. Latin has always strived to build a strong culture of diversity and inclusiveness and we students have a responsibility to uphold that. I thank my school authorities and affinity groups for giving me this opportunity to share some of my experiences. I was once asked if we had slaves in India. To begin with, India never had slavery. You may read about ‘bonded child labor’ but those are simply random cases where impoverished parents have handed over their children for daily wage jobs. Such rare circumstances should not be mistaken as common occurrence. Again, there is no reason to believe that India is an impoverished country (“No way, India is so poor!”). It has a GDP (PPP) of 8.272 trillion dollars- the 3rd highest in the world. The problem lies with the distribution of wealth and political corruption as its root cause. The means are certainly there to provide, but alas human greed overcomes! Those of you who have read world history might already know that India was one of the richest countries prior to the European invasion. Agricultural lands were forcefully degraded; gold was looted and years of colonisation left its mark on the economy. Hence, one will see the signs of a developing economy in India. Another mark colonisation left on India was the division of India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. (“Do you hate Pakistan? You know you hate Pakistan.”) While the three nations are often in political conflict with each other, the people of these countries do not share this animosity and want peace. No one likes war. One of the positive outcomes of colonisation was an established common language. While each of the 29 states have a regional language, most Indians have mastered and personalised English. We still use English vocabulary like “lifts” and “rubbish” with Indian interjections like “chalo” and “by the by.” These 29 states that grew out of 567 Princely States and 1000 Zamindaries each have a different culture from one another and with that comes a different type of English. Some people tend to speak in what one would consider a “London accent” (“Why do you have a fake British accent? It’s pretentious!”), in reality this could also be called a Calcutta or Madras accent. Just like people in Tennessee don’t speak the same way as people do in Boston, different Indians speak English in different ways. On the point of language, there are over 29 languages and 500 dialects spoken in India. This is due to the amalgamation of the erstwhile estates of India. Bengali, Hindi and English are the most widely spoken followed by Tamil, Telugu, Punjabi, and Oriya. (“Do you speak Indian?”) Most Indians speak three languages- a mother tongue, Hindi and English. This is because Hindi and English are the state languages and the mother tongue is a regional language. (“Why do you speak Bengali at home?”) Indians eat a lot of good food. (“What do you eat in India- s**t?”) In fact there are over 29 distinct types of Indian food; from macher jhol to upma to idli dosa, there is not a single Indian cuisine that’s not delicious. Food is an important part of Indian culture and even the poorest consume it with dignity. (“You’re from India and you’re afraid to eat from a dirty spoon?”) Alas, finally the elephant (no pun intended) in the room: What is India like- structurally? (“Is an Indian Palace the size of an average 2-bedroom condo here?”) India has a strong architectural heritage; from the grand palaces and forts to the ornate mausoleums and mosques, India is a land of architectural diversity. In fact, India has one of the greatest feats of neoclassical architecture in the world- Falaknuma Palace of Hyderabad. Its Corinthian columns stand high above its French gardens. The pietra-dura walls and marble statues stand over Hyderabad in true royal might. The European Invasion may have taken India’s gold, crops and resources, but it has not been able to rob us of our food, languages and artistic culture. Here are some pictures of Indian Palaces: The Cooch Behar Palace owned by His Highness, The Maharajadhiraj of Cooch Behar. imgres unnamed-1 The Udaipur City Palace owned by His Exalted Highness, The Maharana of Udaipur. evening-walking-tour-city-palace-jagdish-temple-and-dharohar-show-in-in-udaipur-210534 unnamed   The Mysore Palace owned by His Highness, The Maharaja Wadiyar of Mysore. url unnamed]]>