Thursday, 4 October 2012

#4 - Inter-cultural differences and what we can do?

'I don't understand why we are arguing about this. What is happening in India does not concern you in anyway, does it?'

'That's the solution, isn't it? It does not concern us, why bother about it. I need some time alone, I'll see you later Jay..'

'Pri don't be silly..' Priya was already out of the room.

Jess and Priya met two years back at the freshman inauguration ceremony. Jess had made it half hour earlier to the venue being the punctual pedant she was and Priya was 5 minutes late being the nonchalant realist. They were seated next to each other and they started talking. The conversation that day between two opposite characters turned into a friendship built on trust and affection.

-- 

Today they were sitting in Jess’s room when Priya read something out aloud- Religious activists were hunting down unmarried couples in public places in India and forcing them to either marry or declare kinship. These groups violently attacked the public claiming they had lost their culture and were imitating the west. This incident was not the first of its kind. Just a month ago, a mob entered a resort and physically attacked a party that included women. They took the law in their hands and believed that they were bringing India's original culture back into the society by ruthlessly stopping the teenagers from having fun.

Jess for one did not understand why Priya bothered herself with these issues. She did not understand why someone who was so realistic about everything else, let this particular issue affect her. 'I think you worry about this too much. What do you think you can do? They'll find a way to punish the offenders'

It boiled Priya's blood to know of the animosity it was causing in the society. Her parents taught her a lot about religion, culture and values and feet were firm in her principles. However the exposure she got through education and life outside India opened her up for acceptance and appreciation of other belief systems. 'It is not their right to forcefully inflict a said-culture. Culture is up to the person who carries it. Inter-cultural differences can be solved by accepting one another, not through violence. The society needs such broad-mindedness for growth'

She was also mad at Jess for not understanding her place.

-- 

They hadn't spoken for 2 weeks. Jess felt terrible. Priya was never the kind to ignore; she would always come running back even after an argument. So to make up, Jess read up on the issue. She tried to understand why this was important for Priya. She had heard all of her opinions on the matter. She put her writing skills to use and created a blog. One that addressed Intercultural harmony and ways to achieve it through effective communication.

She knocked on Priya's door. 'Hi Pri, before you say anything I have to show you something' She opened up the blog. 'I think you and I should write on this. We can publicize the issue among students and expand from there. Let's do our part by educating people on showing empathy for differences'

Priya hugged Jess. This is why she needed her.

1 comment:

Teresa Widodo said...

Hi Dhanya!

What a meaningful narrative! You described the situation very clearly. However, it might be better to shorten it a bit if possible.
I believe you must be directly observing the situation to get such a crystal clear detail, am I correct? I also face similar problem in Indonesia. Many people welcome and embrace the so-called Westernization while the others try to 'throw' it away. There is a particular organization that often threatens those who are against their culture. They tried to close 7-11 once just because it sold alcoholic beverages. They also did a 'great' job in banning movies that they found controversial or movies with some kissing scenes.
All in all, I do agree with you. We decide what culture that we embrace and violence or threat should not limit our rights to choose. :) Great job!