If I had a dollar for every time I went to the Consulate of India in Toronto I’d be able to pay for 25 minutes of downtown parking.
But seriously. I have been there more than 7 times since January. And it’s not because they give out free Indian food. (They don’t).
This morning I thought, I should call Vasudha and my in-laws and wish them Happy Independence Day, as I walked into the elevator to the Indian Consulate. Okay, keep in mind this was pre-coffee getting into my bloodstream. So, imagine my surprise as I exited the elevator and found free food and no one looking agitated. I knew something was wrong. I asked the security guard and he informed me that the Consulate was closed to the public to celebrate Independence Day.
Ooops. My bad. I vacillated between saying, “Happy Independence Day!” and handing him my Indian permanent residency card in shame. So, sometime this week I will again make the trek downtown, pay the equivalent of a condo down-payment on parking and hope for better luck at the Consulate.
But…Happy Independence Day!!! In keeping with my serious cultural identity confusion, I’d like to add another country’s special day to the mix. Actually, now that I think about it, all of these countries received freedom from one Evil Empire….England. Hmm. Interesting. Apparently the sun has set on the British Empire. (Don’t get me wrong, I actually love England and feel 1/13th British, but that’s another story for another day.)
Back to India.
I would like to raise a cup of chai to India:
To the country that is home to 1/6th of the world’s population yet welcomes guests like family,
To the land of field hockey and cricket, butter chicken and naan,
To the home of my beloved husband and family,
To the people who invented buttons and playing cards, who discovered the number “zero” and first mined diamonds,
Happy Independence Day!!
I love this clip from the movie Khabi Kushi Khabi Gham (Sometimes Happy, Sometimes Sad). It shows a family who moved to England but who is still very homesick for India. The little boy and his class are supposedly performing “Doe a Deer” which saddens the little boy’s Mom as she wishes he knew more about Indian culture. The song performed is the Indian National Anthem, Jana Gana Mana.
Finally, the album “Share the Well” by Caedmon’s Call is perhaps one of my favorite albums ever. It was recorded with musicians and villagers in India and reflects a love for India that few foreigners have. It calls us to action, prayer and love for a great country.