[Reader-list] Hong Kong and Kashmiriat

gowhar fazli gowharfazili at yahoo.com
Sun Jun 15 02:09:24 IST 2008

Hong Kong is unnerving for someone who lives in India
for more than one reason...  the foremost being the
level of organization, order and structure...  The
buildings.... the transport system... cry out and say
the place seems to have no people... people the way we
know in India... as active agents.  High levels of
organization that people in this region... the economy
driven human change seems to have eaten away at
life...  Well there might be surprises in
store...there ought to be.
The glass faces are unnerving.  The order is extremely
alienating for someone used to nudges and pushes and
glares and protests and mocks and general attitude
communicated by the passers by in a typical full blown
Indian city or even a town.  But what is it really...
a deeper cultural background or loss of all culture...
a  complete surrender to market forces... to live as
abiding citizen to this huge engine called capitalist
state?  People do seem to be in rush to get somewhere.
 It is not that they are unhelpful and uncheerful.  It
is just that the help is so precise and the smiles are
so too much measured and polite.  Is everyone exactly
the same... one wonders at first site.
The hell is that a bus service from the metro...
something we call a feeder service in India... goes to
exact stations even while it is almost empty... even
with just two people on board who the driver knows
will get off at the last station.  He actually stops
at all stations.... goes to every hotel door to pick
up imaginary people... moves only when the valet bids
him to go!  A Kashmiri mini bus driver would either
stay on till he packs the bus with real people to the
brim or would take major short cuts and sell off the
state fuel he will save, for extra pocket money!  A
Delhi DTC guy will skip stations even when he sees
real people, only because he wants to drive fast and
be in control... may be even running down a couple of
unsuspecting people in the process (thus the name
killer dtc!)
It is by experiencing the positive attitude of the
people at another level of interaction that you
understand that there is more to this culture and
city.  The energy is bewildering.  The amount of
themselves they put into their work... the effort to
do it right... without making two bones about it (!) 
Wow!  This is how they ACTUALLY are!  They just don't
pull you down and make you feel bad at all.  How can
PEOPLE be like this!  
This short visit has changed my view about East Asian
people so drastically... I always felt Indian Asians
are smarter.  But negativeness is not actually smart. 
Because being positive and giving a pleasant feeling
to others actually pushes everybody forward... while
the cumulative effect of trying to pull others down to
move up actually ensures collective backwardness and
bad feeling... even if people do actually get a bit
crafty in the process.
There is a place called Ladies Market in Hong Kong...
some thing comparable to cheap clothes market on
JANPATH Delhi.  There is bargaining... almost exactly
alike in both places (but that Indians bargain much
harder and break deals much too often)... except in
Hong Kong... they make you feel beautiful at the end
of every deal with a smile and a bow.  The skeptic
Indian mind wonders if this is real or just habit....
but even if it were mere gesture... we all love to be
treated well.  We deserve this minimum.  In this case
Hong Kong is right.
Perfection, cleanliness, rules, have not yet left me
comfortable just as yet.  They are good but my South
South Asian sensibilities long for chaos, disorder,
warmth and some defiance... I am more at home in that.
 Perfection cleanliness and order are a mixed blessing
and come at a price.  We must bargain hard.  We
shouldn’t buy them at the cost of surrendering our
individual autonomies...  especially the right to
speak up and express disgust.  Freedom to the level of
self destructiveness is necessary for ones being and
soul... so says my Kashmiri mind (it tops the Indian
one in all senses let me tell you! especially in the
latter feature... probably we have understood the
value of freedom over the centuries of denial... and
its fake forms in recent history in a hard hard way. 
Give it to us I tell you!) How do we get a high dose
of passion and kindness at the same time and that too
without creating a bad upset!  There must be a place
in the world that has done it all well or is there
any?  I can't say... I have hardly travelled.   But I
buy this one from Irfan...  one must travel...
internationally... in order to feel the real
difference among people living under different
systems...  if only to return and understand ones own
better.  Thanks for the realization that India,
however massive and diverse... is not the World!

Unfortunately, the balance of nature decrees that a super-abundance of dreams is paid for by a growing potential for nightmares.   
Love is an act of endless forgiveness, a tender look which becomes a habit. 

Peter Ustinov


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