About eight years ago, as part of one my first ever attempts to speak publicly in English during a college ceremony, I had talked for about ten minutes on a lesson in my English short prose textbook. It was a short story by R. K. Laxman, the creator of the omnipresent common man cartoon character. In that story, RKL had talked about how he felt very old when he visited a foreign country because he was from an ancient Indian civilization. I did not know then that I would remember that short story for a long time to come.
About a year ago when I left India towards a western country, on my way I had become a few hours younger because the western world lived in a different time zone. Unlike RKL, I believed that although India had a history of >3000 years (in books), it was caught in its contemporary history, waffling incessantly on what went wrong yesterday and the day before. Hence, in my book it was not as old as it could have been.
Now, I look forward (eastward) to travelling back to India definitely a year older than I was. The trickiest part is the fact that I will be older by a few hours I had left behind one year ago. It makes me wonder where India actually stands.
It is said that romanticizing India is a really enjoyable pass-time activity for many Indians. There are equal if not more number of Indians who bash India during their coffee break every day. I think there are many things real about India than there are worthy of either romanticizing or bashing. I look forward to that real part when I go back. I am pretty much sure now that I need to find it out in those hours, the hours I had lost.