SpiritFarmer


India Journal – How I spent my Independence Day
July 12, 2008, 6:31 am
Filed under: culture, India

Upon scheduling the dates for our trip, I realized with a little bit of amusement that we would be in India on the 4th of July.  The amusement came from realizing that I would be relieved from the inner turmoil I always experience at this time of year.  Long time readers of this blog will know that I’m pretty ambivalent (that’s probably too generous a word) when it comes to matters of patriotism.  I don’t salute the flag, my eyes don’t fill with tears when Lee Greenwood’s “Proud to be an American” or Neil Diamond’s “Coming to America” play.  I don’t really like the tone of “God Bless America.”  I do realize that the freedoms I enjoy have come at a great cost to many who have served in the military and politics and local law enforcement and protection agencies.  I am not ungrateful for that.  It’s just that I’ve taken a firm grasp of where my true citizenship lies, and my American citizenship is a very distant second to me by comparison.  I willingly pay my taxes and am thankful for the privileges I enjoy as a U.S. citizen.  But things like fireworks and patriotic songs and the waving of flags (especially when done inside churches) do produce a tension for me.  I’ve made friends with that tension.

So there we were, in India.  And someone told us about the Independence Day celebration that takes place every year at the U.S. Embassy.  At least two of my three fellow travelers got quite excited about this, and plans were made.  So on July 5th (more than two weeks after we had arrived in the country), I was in Delhi, hearing Lee Greenwood and Neil Diamond songs, eating a beef hamburger (which is pretty hard to come by there), and listening to everyone around me speak English about where they’re from and why they’re in India.  There was a fireworks show (which I imagined must have been a little random for the residents of Delhi to see).  Ironically, none of the beer they were serving was American (they had Indian, European, and Mexican varieties to choose from).

It was a little surreal.  I found myself in a place where I could have completely escaped my national identity, but instead I did perhaps the most patriotic possible in that circumstance.  Very odd indeed.  My tension was still there, to be sure, but I did enjoy myself – meeting people from all over the U.S., and hearing their stories of why they’re in country. It was a new kind of test for me, and one that may have softened some of the harder edges of my crankiness about these things.  I’m actually glad I went – it was probably my most unique Independence Day ever.  Ironically amusing.  Some of my friends should now feel free to make fun of me.

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[…] India Journal – How I spent my Independence DayUpon scheduling the dates for our trip, I realized with a little bit of amusement that we would be in India on the 4th of July. The amusement came from realizing that I would be relieved from the inner turmoil I always experience at … […]

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