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I am yet to understand what is it that I exactly feel for my country, my city even. I mean there are times I do not particularly associate with my life here. And that would be true for any other place I feel. I guess I would be the same person or maybe better or worse depending on the external circumstances if I was born somewhere else, I don't know. I am a staunch believer of the fact that your surrounding matters in shaping you and thus I am not particularly happy to be in India as I feel I could have done much better If I was not born here.

I am a very open-minded person and have a sense of understanding of freedom and expression which is seldom appreciated, leave alone understood in India. What keeps me here is habit I guess, nothing else. If I were to find a similar climate and food and shelter with a much more liberal setting I would never live here. Largely, I am yet to find a sense of belonging and some really valuable experiences which I feel is an essential step towards developing patriotism which I do not have. In my opinion just because you are born at a certain place or raised in a certain way, it isn't imperative that you should be able to absorb or be proud of 'all' that the place or the culture or the society offers.

Ever since childhood, I have been in awe of most of my friends who have had parents who had a rotating job as a result of which they were shifting houses every four or five years. I think that gives a person a sense of adjustment, newness, and a lot of confidence because with every place that you change you are meeting new people around, you face different kinds of challenges and it sort of helps you to become more accommodating and real and present in life. Unfortunately, I have never been able to live outside for a long time or forever which I really want.

I feel that the feeling of patriotism or being proud of one's country is often misunderstood. I mean I could be working in some other country and making some discovery or bringing about a change that may probably benefit India. So being in India has nothing to do with being proud of India or making my country proud if I am not making any tangible progress here or if I am not growing. They are two independent things. Also, I think that with a cross cultural exchange there is a lot that is gained by all the countries that are involved and the growth that ensues is really valuable to the individual as also the economies involved.

Now coming to the crux of it all... what is it that I really am proud about India... There are very few things in particular, negligible in fact. But if I have to state one, I think I am really proud of India's humanitarian approach to life and living as such. And that is huge! Our history and its decisions and the subsequent actions are a witness of this. But there are times I also feel that this same approach goes against us and that it would help if we were to reform it a tad bit to better ensure our citizens of safety and justice.

All said and done, I am yet to experience the supposed spark of patriotism and in no way do I want to fake it just thinking what anyone else will think about me. I am really tired of seeing the news channel that demonstrate the supposed spirit of Mumbaikars and their ability to bounce back after a terrorist attack when in fact we need to be focussing on averting those by bettering our intelligence. I have no issues with industrialists spending crores of rupees on their familial marriages, but I would be happier if on the same streets from where the newly - weds depart for their honeymoon, there wouldn't be slums and undernourished children who do not have even the basic things for their survival. Yes, I feel very happy when a movie like Mangalyan depicts how Indians were the first to get to Mars with the minimal resources, but it also leads me to contemplate as to when are we going to stop singing praises of our resilience and really think about what needs to be done and then really do it to give the scientists in India all that they need so that they do not have to waste their energy in doing HOMESCIENCE!

I just hate the whole concept of Jugaad that exists in our country. I mean starting from the fourth seat in the train where even when three people are sitting, the fourth one wants to crumble in and that runs in our generations and we are proud of it. Well, even I am because I have seen that it sort of bonds people sometimes. But then wouldn't it help that people have a comfortable life? Wouldn't it increase their productivity? Today the men and women in India work relentlessly be it any field but what do they get in return? Not even the basic infrastructure. Our standard of living has improved on paper in terms of the average expenditure and building food joints and malls and fashion and beauty products but when it comes to a better life, we are not there yet! I mean we need to stop fooling ourselves...

I am particularly unhappy about the way women are treated in our country. And there will be many people who will argue that situations are worse elsewhere. But my point is how does comparing our progress with someone else who is not as good as us help? Comparisons are just lame. If you want to compare, compare with your own last best. Even today it is paradoxical to observe that no matter how much a girl is educated, her value as a person is always decided on the basis of how capable she is as a wife or a mother and very rarely as an achiever. Even if she earns more than or equal to her husband, she is going to be expected to stand in the kitchen and make something special for her husband. Well, nothing wrong in that. But then is the husband also going to do that for her when she is really tired. Are we open to role reversals? Not because we want to prove that we believe in equality, but simply because it is also going to strengthen the bond between the man and the woman. After all when you do something for someone out of love, you make them a part of you... and that is important for nurturing every relation!

In regards man-woman inequality there are certain incomprehensible things that I observe and feel ashamed of. I mean, what have we really achieved by allotting special seats in the bus to women? Well, it is understandable at the most if they are pregnant. But otherwise the whole thing about having a special women's seat is so contradictory to the idea of equality and women empowerment as a whole which we try to propagate. Rather than empowering her you are actually projecting that she needs more support. Well maybe she does because she is biologically different than men. But then we do see women wrestlers and athletes competing with men equally well. Why can't such examples be given more value in our society on a consistent basis rather than they just being lost in some Facebook feed after the initial surgence of success has faded. I want to understand why are men not given special seats? They also work very hard and probably go through some unmanageable androgenic cycles just as the women have their menses... Why are we ingraining such differences that project that one is better capable than the other? I feel we need to realize one thing... Men and those who are in power and even other women have to give up on their need to 'give' or 'uplift' women. Every woman is capable of uplifting herself. If you want to do something for her, just be there without feeling 'great' about it and make sure that the resources are available. Probably that is when there will be the beginning of the establishing of equality and maybe that is when I will really feel proud of India, not before that.

Currently, largely we only seem to be adapting to the west, many a times not understanding why we are doing so. And I feel if that is going to be the case, why should I live here? I would rather live anywhere else and make those adaptations for myself rather than relying on some government or authoritarians to make the choices for me! I can make them for myself. After all, one thing is clear, the change that I am expecting is going to take many years to even begin to become visible and I do not wish to spend the most valuable years of my life feeling stuck only to witness that change!

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