Archive | July, 2013


11 Jul

After a long struggle to adapt to the environment of a company in Kerala, the skill I adopted was to first recognise the person as a Malayali (Keralite) and then as an individual. It was an attitude I did not want to take up, but I came to a point where I was convinced that if otherwise I will not survive. There was rarely a weekend that went without tears. My phisical condition was deteriorating and my skins were rashing like a dinasour. It is true that I will most probably have problem in any company, whether in Japan or elsewhere; I have that character, I have that problem. But still, the Indian/Malayali-ness of the office added to it even more.

To think of the person as a simple ‘person’, means to take him/her as equal to you, and that always has the danger of ignoring that person’s values and what are different from you. Or perhaps you recognise the differences, but you still expect the core bits to be the same or alike to you. So when a great difference strikes suddenly, it really hits you, and becomes very, extremely, hard to digest. And living in India, the degree of different-ness of this difference is often much greater than what you could possibly expect; which is why I came to the attitude stated earlier.

But which is more arrogant? Both of them are arrogant in its own way, whether to expect the same value from the other, or to categorise a living human being into some obscure collective. I tend to juggle them and get lost between the two.

In Australia, there was less tendency to judge a person from his/her look. I’m not saying it doesn’t exist; it was certainly there, and I used to have strong opinion about that. But after coming to India, and reflecting upon the situation in Japan, I now think Australia is actually doing pretty well. Prejudice is a part of human nature, and even if the racism survives strongly there, still the history has taught them to recognise racism as racism, and people are made conscious of how to deal with it.

I can survive in Japan rather easily these days, only because I know well what to expect there. I went through a process of hating that place, despite my love to the language and cultures, to careful reconciliation in recent years.

Now, here-in Kerala- whatever I say or do, people will label it as Japanese. Even very intelligent and cultural people do. Natural, I guess, in Indian context, where the identity as Indian is so important. But those who are reading here would probably know that I am not at all the kind of person to rightly represent Japanese. The major problem I have is perhaps that I do not really understand this sense to ‘be proud of your own culture’; as I wrote, I love Japanese language and some of the cultures. But am I proud of it? I am happy when I get to know some great Japanese figures. But would I be proud of them?

If people categorise me into Japanese, would that be a reflection of how I categorise them as Malayalis? But without such recognition, I can easily get into the trap of imaginative ‘we’ and collapse in disappointment. Can I give up to have my own thoughts and leave the ego?

So I come back to the same question, over and over again.

The only sure thing I can say is that I must work on the language more. I need to be more conversant in Malayalam. English is a dangerous thing when used as an international medium, because everyone thinks they have a good grasp; and leads to some unfortunate misunderstandings. I need to be able to express myself more in Indian languages.