IT’S strange that one has to get far away from one’s own home to think about one’s roots, but that’s what happened to me on Sunday (September 23) night.
Sitting in a theatre in Columbus, Ohio, watching an Indian singer on stage, it came home to me with some force that no matter where in the world they are, expatriate Indians can be very boorish.
The night was obviously not meant for those of no means; everyone at the theatre had paid at least $US30 a seat and those in the seats from where they could focus properly had forked out a hundred big ones.
Yet when the singer, Shreya Ghoshal, came on stage and started giving voice to songs that the audience was obviously familiar with, the catcalls and howls, which sounded quite feral at times, were not geared towards allowing the audience to enjoy the music.
No, they were meant to establish in people’s minds the familiar idea that those making the noise were very much there and that they meant to keep making that point right through the performance. They were shouting loudly, “Hey, we are here. Look at us.”
Never mind if it showed that Indians, whether at home or abroad, can be extremely boorish.
I guess the singer did not quite cut it as well; she seemed to be in a constant battle to make herself heard above the orchestra accompanying her. This made it quite plain that the musicians who were around her did not constitute a group who have played with her for any length of time, but rather a group put together for the tour.
But even this lack of professionalism does not provide an excuse for the sort of behaviour one witnessed. No, this is common when Indians congregate together for any kind of function; most of them are in a schizophrenoid state of mind brought about by living abroad despite being desperately homesick.
They can’t go home and enjoy the material prosperity they do in the US; they can’t stay here and behave as they do in India. Hence when opportunity presents itself — and the Ghoshal concert was one where there was hardly anybody not of Indian origin — they behave as they would in their village back home in India.
Which is, frankly, not exactly edifying to either man or beast.