Finding More of India


India is a country with a great diversity. We have 29 states and 7 Union territories; that’s not a big deal, but the fact that we have 22 official languages must mean something! If you’re still not satisfied, then hold on, the Indian census of 1961 recognised 1,652 different languages in India! This includes all those languages not native to the country. So, it’s not a wonder that almost all Indians are multi-lingual. We understand and often speak fluently 3/4 languages apart from English. It’s thus not easy to imitate the Indianness we share! But Lufthansa has embraced the task and, a simple “Namaste” has already won the hearts of thousands of Indians availing their hospitality.

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What does the word Namaste mean? It is an amalgamation of two Sanskrit words, Namah meaning “I bow” and -te is an ending that means “to you”. So, it means, “I bow to you” which we generally do with an actual physical posture. In Yoga, though, the meaning has been further taken as “I bow to the divine in you” as India believes there resides a Supreme self in every human being, irrespective of caste, creed, sex and nature.

Perhaps, this notion of ‘oneness’ has helped us much to achieve unity in diversity. And, again, for believing in this philosophy, we consider every guest as someone as high as God and do our best to make her/him comfortable. Atithi devo bhaba (अतिथिदेवो भव) as our ancient scriptures have taught us. Lufthansa is conveying the same message through their gestures of making the Indians feel at home in flights; they are doing their best as a host to make us content in every way. While doing that, one can just not forget about Indian food! Whatever be your gastronomical taste be, you’ll find your taste buds satisfied with Indian food. And, we all know, no one cooks better than mom! Apparently, the airlines’ meals have even made the Indian moms nodding in approval. (It’s a real tough job to make them smile)

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Being an Indian, I’ve been brought up in a joint family. That is, we used to live with our cousins and uncles and aunties along with our parents in a big house. Of course, there was a dearth of exclusive privacy but, it also has helped me to learn some key factors of life. Compatibility, care and collective achievement. These have immensely helped me later in my life to attain success. In a corporate job, you need all the qualities to strengthen your platform.

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Our Joint Family House

I’ve grown in a cultural ambience. The library in our house, the smell of books, names of eminent authors printed on the covers, have developed a love reading in me from the childhood. The love of books made me a member of the British Council Library in Kolkata when I was in my 12th standard. I used to spend hours there especially on Saturdays and Sundays. On one such lazy Sunday morning, I met a British gentleman who inquired me about the meaning of my name. I explained to him and, after that, in spite of a huge age difference, we became friends. He was residing in Kolkata at that time for some official projects. Most of the times, he regaled me with his myriad experiences in the city and how he was enjoying the stay. One afternoon, he told me, “how wonderful it is for you to read both Shakespeare and Rabindranath Tagore in their original forms, without translation!” That very moment, I consider myself fortunate enough to be an Indian, to know the languages in which such men wrote.

I never knew how Indian films, music and dance are popular in other countries until I met Mr Petrov (name changed). He came to our company to deliver some project from Russia and was supposed to work with me. I was astounded over his knowledge about Indian film industry; from the Raj Kapoor era to the Shah Rukh Khan! He could give a dissertation on almost every Indian superstar and, his dancing effort with some superhit Hindi songs always was successful to raise a smile on everyone’s face.

As I said, I grew up with my cousins, and one of our best pastime games was playing scrabble. The penchant for weaving words has perhaps thus developed from the childhood (that made me start this blog some three years back). I still play scrabble, on online platforms. On one such platform, I met an elderly gentleman. As we exchanged a few pleasantries during the play, I came to know he was from Germany. On knowing I’m from India, to my utter astonishment, he started speaking (virtually) in Sanskrit! Frankly, I don’t have that much Sanskrit knowledge to continue a conversation, but it made me happy and proud that he was so well acquainted with Sanskrit, one of the ancient languages of the world.

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Indian culture, in every way, has influenced the world much. Sometimes, it’s even beyond our imagination. It’s #MoreIndianThanYouThink.

Like all developing countries, we are struggling to bridge the gap between demand and supply, earning and expenditure. But still, we share a life-force, a unity. You’ll find a method in the chaotic cacophonies of Indian cities, a smile on every face when the country wins a cricket match, a cheer in every lane when an Olympic medal is won.
Lufthansa’s new TVC has successfully managed to get this vibe. Watch it here:

This struggling attitude, determination and confidence have inspired Indians to achieve success everywhere. From frugal innovation to being in the topmost positions of eminent companies, Indians have proved their excellence. Entrepreneurs like Mansukhbhai Prajapati has invented “clay refrigerators” and trying more to coax advantages out of constraints, based on our ideologies, values and culture. India, the world’s most exotic destination, is not only the land of maharajahs and the nawabs, Krishna, Buddha, Gandhi, Nehru, saffron, silk and spices, but a united nation welcoming every guest whispering Namaste.

As you’ve watched the Lufthansa TVC and realized how it is imbibing Indianness socially, culturally and spiritually, let’s welcome the influence.

Last but not the least, the word “Lufthansa” is derived from the Greman “luft” meaning air and Latin “hansa” meaning guild or association. But, in Sanskrit, the word “hansa” means swan. So, Lufthansa, you are indeed  #MoreIndianThanYouThink!

This post is written as a part of the contest #MoreIndianThanYouThink in association with Indiblogger and Lufthansa.

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46 responses to “Finding More of India

  1. “how wonderful it is for you to read both Shakespeare and Rabindranath Tagore in their original forms, without translation!” That very moment, I consider myself fortunate enough to be an Indian, to know the languages in which such men wrote.” … Absolutely! Thanks for such wonderful post!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Mani, it is indeed a wonderful post not that you have written it for Lufthansa but the very essence of what you have captured who we are are as Indians and how we have so much to offer and share with the world and we have shied way from doing so for years… it is only when someone visit us from the foreign land and tell us how much fortunate we are living in a land of bounty and beauty manifested in so many myriad ways from culture, values, art, history, language and the richness of civilization…the more we think the more we realize how much blessed we are as a country and yes we are exotic country and as people of culturally rich country we are very warmth and welcoming to visitors all around the world…Namaste, the magical expression of bowing down to mystical power of divinity.

    By the way love playing Scrabble and it is a lovely engagement for me to relax and rejoice the playing the jugglery with words and it keeps testing us and time and again as we discover the right word, it is like the Eureka moment!!!
    😀

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  3. Excellent post, Maniparna! What a powerful and informative piece of writing, written so very well. I’ve always been intrigued with the Eastern cultures and to read this about your country kept me drinking. Thank you so much. Yes I am very familiar with the word Namaste and what it means. More of us “should” incorporate that word and its meaning into our daily lives. ❤

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  4. I live in a newer neighborhood in the San Francisco Bay Area and a lot of my neighbors are Indian so I read a book called The Namesake because they have all read it. It tells the story of a family who moved here from India, From the perspective of the little boy. My sense was that the family they left behind had less money but I was very drawn by all of the togetherness and Community and love that was shared. Here in the US we tend to be more isolated from one another. At least in the Western states. So I found myself envious of more than one family living in the same house. But maybe I’m taking a romanticized view, I don’t know.

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  5. Well rounded post, Maniparna. You have beautifully presented all aspects of Indianness, be it in the gesture of Namaste, through language, literature, films or cacophony of the cities. It is good to know that Lufthansa has incorporated all these aspects in their service. Makes a wonderful read. 👌👌

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  6. Love the ad. There may be issues but we are a truly diverse nation, community live once made our strength, rich cultural heritage and our belief to fight for our ideals and tolerance. It makes me proud of my roots and my grandparents born in the country. There is no country like India. After all, we gave zero to the world.

    Jai Hind. Proud to be an Indian
    V

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  7. It is beautifully written…also, I too mentioned the “hansa” part in my post…looks like bong minds think alike *winks*
    I hope this wins! It captured the theme well unlike some that I came across.
    Good luck dear! 🙂

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  8. I was not aware of the Airline’s connection to India. But at the very least it makes business sense to cater to the local market and foster better international relations.

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  9. What a beautifully scripted post Mani.. And all those languages to within One large country.. I am always in awe at how you speak so eloquently well and you speak several languages..
    What always has inspired me is when ever you see a young child in India being asked a question of what they want to become as an adult.. Usually they have a clear idea to aspire to greatness.. Naming their given profession at a young age..
    Here you ask many a teenager and still they have no idea, no aspirations.. Indian has the WILL.. to thrive, and prosper .. And it is in part due to your generation.. Seeking a better way moving forward..

    I did smile at the add on the video .. Not seen it before… Learning to alter our mindset, focus and our intent is the Key to our successes ..

    Loved reading some back story of your younger years too of growing up in a shared home..
    I also think the influences of older generations around us has a big impact in the way a younger child develops..

    Thank you for this amazing post.. I loved reading every word..

    Namaste my friend.. 🙂

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  10. Beautifully written, Maniparna. You covered a lot of grounds. Liked the spiritual touch. You are lucky in reading Shakespeare and Rabindranath Tagore in their original forms, without translation. I wanted to read Moner Manush by Sunil Gangopadhyay but unfortunately it was written in Bengali. I tried to look for its English translation and found one by Monabi Mitra, titled The Fakir. Well, the meaning of Fakir is totally different from the meaning of Moner Manush. When I read its reviews, I found that it’s a very poor translation of the work and then dropped the idea of reading it. 😦

    It’s good to know that you still play scrabble. I missed my childhood days when we lived together in joint family and used to play scrabble, lotto, carrom, etc. Now, we are adults doing jobs in different cities. 😦

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  11. Nice post Mani. I like how you’ve woven your experiences and the interesting people you’ve met into the narrative,

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  12. An enjoyable, educational, post. In the 1960s, my cricket club had a fixture against the State Bank of India. Our opponents spoke to each other in English, because otherwise they may not have understood each other.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Raj kapoor was very popular in CIS countries. His song Awaraa Hoon was a big hit.
    I have found that Indians are generally welcomed everywhere across the world. In some countries, people become even more hospitable when they come to know you’re Indian. Great post, Maniparna

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  14. India is indeed very rich and it is because of all these myriad of factors that you have pointed out that we are so. Beautiful post Mani, loved reading all the experiences 🙂 all the best!

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  15. Thanks God i did not take part in this writing,I would surely not be able to write so beautifully on this topic…..this post is superbly amazing, very nicely described and analyzed, specially loved the concept of reading Shakespeare and Rabindranath in their original forms.

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  16. It gladdens my heart when I read some positive thoughts about India. Thanks Mani for highlighting all the goodness we have! It is our value-based upbringing, struggling attitude and determination that keeps us going!

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  17. Absolutely loved this post on India, Mani. Over 1,000 languages is a lot of languages. India is really such a diverse country with so many communities. The Indians I have met speak different languages, from Tamil to Hindi to Punjabi to dialects I’ve never even heard off.

    Your colleagues seem to be very into Indian culture. Hope Mr Petrov was able to entertain the office with his dance moves. He sounds like a very cool guy. Bollywood dancing has always amazed me – not only colourful but so many moves 🙂

    Like

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