India Ubiquitous

Copyright : Nabanita Dhar
The world is shrinking, they say. Shrinking into a single entity, assimilating in itself diverse characteristics across cultures. The boundaries are blurring, the intangible ones definitely. It's all like one huge crystal ball. Tangerine, silver, blue and green. Colors or should I say cultures, colliding, amalgamating into one sphere. Traditions, festivals, fashion or cuisine - you name it; there's not one place or region any of it is confined now.  That's globalization right? 

One of the effects of this phenomenon called globalization is that today the world is on it's way to becoming more and more 'Indianised'. Today a little more than yesterday, in certain ways at-least, and it only keeps expanding with every passing hour. I guess the same is true for any other country too. It's not a one way street, it's an exchange. 

Now I can't speak for the entire world but based on my travels, I can surely say that I have seen the mark of India beyond our shores. And yes the statement is not totally a figment of our imagination. No Sir, I'm not romanticizing the notion at all.

You know there's something that we say here in the IT Industry, especially when we have to go and work at client locations. There's not a single place in the world where you won't find an Indian Store. Yes, you know the Indian grocery stores? For us, naive as it might be, that vouches for the presence of Indians everywhere. One of those visible testaments of India being taken all around the world by Indians. 

As silly as it might sound at first but for argument sake just ponder a bit on what I write next. The key, most obvious I should add, to making an impression, a mark rather, in a new country is through the gastronomical route? Cheesy? Well, maybe it's sounds so at first but it's not baseless you see? Taking Indian cuisine across borders too counts as taking India to the global stage, doesn't it?

Now Germany is not really known to be a place which has too many Indians. This I say in the context of the IT Industry in India. For us the UK, the US or Australia are like an extension of India. We don't worry even for a moment about getting the 'Indian stuff' there when we have to travel to those parts of the world. You know our presence has been so much there, over the years, that it's as easy as going to the next town really. Makes sense? So when I landed in Dusseldorf I didn't know what to expect. But would you be surprised if I told you that be it Indian Stores or Indian Restaurants, there was no dearth of either even in Germany?

On our first weekend there we had lunch at an Indian Restaurant. And not only Indians or South Asians, but even Germans were there enjoying Indian meals. Our food pallets being so different, this was something very interesting to note. 

Copyright: Nabanita Dhar
In the course of 3 months in Europe, I visited France, Netherlands, Switzerland and several cities in Germany. Did you know in every city there were Indian eateries? Not something to be astonished about I know. But hear this. Though Indian eateries thronged by Indians was expected, and I had too, I also observed the locals, in considerable numbers, queuing up to sample chats and curries. I hadn't expected that in Germany. Of-course, the extent is not as much as it is , say, in London or Sydney, but it's definitely there.

You know it was in 2009 while I was in Sydney that I first realized how the world had taken in a lot of things Indian. Food being one of the foremost aspect of this assimilation I think. To start with you cannot find a shopping mall in Sydney without an Indian restaurant or fast food joint. And I have had Australian colleagues who actually would cook Butter Chicken or Chicken Korma for dinner. And how can I forget the samosas? Dhokla was a regular in office parties there. It's strange how food unites people, sort of like music does. If Vegemite is something the Australians like, then samosas are also not very far behind in their list. I was amused at seeing their love for this nonchalant little Indian snack.

So if you say the world is imbibing India, I really won't be too surprised. It had begun ages ago really with the invention of zero and it's still continuing today with the applauding of India's Mars Orbiter Mission. We are going places, we are expanding our horizons.

To conclude, I think of all the places I have been to, outside India I mean, Germany has surprised me the most. I had not expected that Indians or our Indian cuisine, just one among many, to be known there. You know what I mean? But I was truly pleasantly surprised. It was like a happy journey from Danke schön to Namaste through the gastronomical route, in my case at-least! My India, ubiquitous? I dare say it certainly is!