March 25, 2011

When in Rome

Just another day at the office. Had a short discussion with a superior during which I was asked to take up a new task. Some information was given and some assurances exchanged. I was then asked to promptly prepare myself for the task at hand. So I spent the better half of the day trying to gather information about a topic that was so far quite alien to me. At some point during this massive exercise, it became imperative that I found out the full-form of an abbreviation that I had come across--GPTA. Nothing new or sensational here, since it is quite common for an engineer these days to come across something totally new, look it up in Google and spend the better part of the decade pretending like he already knew.

For the reader: the full-form of the GPTA that I was looking for is purely incidental. What amused me, however, were the results Google had to offer.

1. Georgia Professional Tennis Association
2. Greater Portland Telugu Association

Greater Portland Telugu Association. Their website, here.  And that, I felt, was worth a post.

Now, I'm fully aware that we, in India have our fair share of uniquely Indian terms. NRI, foreign-return, fast bowler, export quality, games village and others that I cannot currently recall. But the Greater Portland Telugu Association, somehow, sticks out like a Munaf Patel fielding display. Perhaps its because I am constantly in a work-environment where it is the dying wish of everyone I know to either settle abroad or to be sent onsite for just as long as it takes to be able to make enough money to pay off one's dues, pay off an uncle's gambling losses, buy a sauna-belt for all immediate family, buy enough Hershey's to appease the neighbours, gather sufficient interest from the girls in one's community(by way of the foreign-currency-salary-slip), print expensive wedding invitations, book a reasonably-priced choultry that is within walking distance from your childhood home, buy kanjeevaram sarees for all the women in your family-tree, pay a middle-aged topless man to conduct a wedding ceremony that, while in keeping with the highest of family traditions, also guarantees your spouse a ticket to foreign, before finally heading back with her to the Promised Land, in the hope of raising little angels that would continue this wonderful tradition, all of this, while trying to save enough for a honeymoon that your parents couldn't afford. Oh, and on Independence Day, uploading videos that evoke national sentiment on networking sites, with the comment Mera Bhaarat Mahaan

Nothing wrong with that. Because we, as a country are multiplying at a rate that would put Shakuntala Devi to shame. And since we do not know what to do with our population, we offload some of them to other, unsuspecting countries at the speed of light. That's still alright, but why this inexplicable urge to feel at home while abroad? Do the Norwegians form associations in Nellamangala? Do the Vietnamese form associations in Vijaywada?  

I do understand that it is only natural to miss the food, the language, the negotiable vegetable prices, the inconsistent traffic rules and the flexible bus timings, but surely, chitranna, basundi, mother tongues, native places and random festivals can take a backseat every so often? There are certainly things worth knowing and appreciating about other places and people, and surely, that should be the reason we travel? As opposed to the "give-me-your-dollars-but-keep-your-ungodly-lifestyle-the-fuck-away-from-me" or the "try-our-lassi-but-keep-your-Heineken-to-yourself" approach--the proponents of which, are known to prepare for foreign assignments by packing their suitcases with Priya Pickles and MTR Sambhar powder, home-made chutnies and alu bhujia from Haldiram's. The kind that would also not shy away from asking whether foreign Snickers is 100% vegetarian, whether a Black Forest pastry contains egg, or whether there is alcohol in the Rum 'n' Raisin ice-cream. However, ironically enough, members of this group would also have no hesitation in eating a plate of idly-vada with a fork and knife, since they were told during an intercultural training, that that was the most professional, corporate-y and aesthetically pleasing way to do so and that it might, some day lead to an unmerited promotion or an unwarranted salary hike.        

No doubt then, that the members of the Greater Portland Telugu Association are keen on spreading aforesaid traditions, culture and stereotypes. I wish them all the best. I also wish that they would eat a Whopper or two at Burger King, down a couple of Budweisers, smoke a couple of Marlboros and watch The Simpsons every so often. And maybe the entire Greater Portland area would be the better for it. So long as the Greater Portland Telugu Association do not someday fight for a 51st state, that is.

1 comment:

  1. 51st state - one can never tell. Portlangana ?
    Whopper - 2 years on, n you still havent stopped craving that indigestible burger?


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