It is my belief that there are good people and bad people everywhere in the world. There are kind people, there are cruel people; there are geniuses, there are murderers; there are intelligent people, there are dumb people; there are compassionate people and there are rapists. Just shuffle them all up, sprinkle them on the Earth, and draw continents and countries.
I was born in India, and have now journeyed more than half a life time in this beautiful country. My mother has seen about 80 summers, and before her, my grandmother lived her life here. And then there are my aunts, cousins, friends from school, college and work places, and those I met later in life. And all of us have met many boys and men along our journey - fathers, brothers, uncles, friends, friends' husbands, our teachers, doctors, professors. Some have influenced our thinking, some we fell for and married, some we admire and hold in high esteem, some chauvinists we tolerate and some we wished we had never met - like anywhere in the world. And then there are others who helped make our lives easier - the milkman, the watchman, the dhobhi, that respectful electrician, the autorickshaw and cab drivers, the vegetable sellers and the tailors and those simple men on the road who helped when the scooter wouldn't start...all have been wonderful human beings.
My father is the first person I adored, and who I thought (when I was very young) was taller than everyone else in the world! He spun wonderful tales, and showed me the good things life has to offer, at the same time, teaching me to be tolerant of imperfections. I distinctly remember my 13-year old brother standing between me and a stranger in the queue at Tirupati, trying to protect me from a suspected bad touch. I can never forget the compassionate nature of my maternal uncle who was my friend, philosopher and guide. I have been fortunate to find a husband who is kind and understanding. And I have cousins and friends - lawyers and doctors, writers and sportsmen, artists and activists, engineers and actors, bankers and teachers - all very honourable men.
As for strangers in big bad India - I remember the day I was trying to cross a very busy road at Lakdikapul. I was standing there, terrified to put one step forward when a stranger graciously helped me cross the road, telling me not to be afraid! Then there was the time when four of us girls went off on a trip by ourselves in a hired car. Yakub, the driver, took on the role of the protective big brother, and took care of us everywhere we went, even as we giggled and found it extremely funny that he should don this role! And then another friend and I, along with my daughter and cousin went to a palatial haveli of an ex-Prince in Gujarat, and had chai in the garden with the prince and a few other men, oblivious of how far out of the nearest town we were, and how lonely our surroundings were.
Today, I want to pause for a moment and salute all these wonderful men I know and have known in my life. Thank you, dear brothers, FB friends and fellow Indians, for being who you are, and for making me believe that the world is indeed a great place to be.
This too is India and I am also India's daughter.