Column: LUV PUNE

Living in America, the US and especially in San Francisco Bay Area now a days is quite an experience. You are always torn between the feeling of being at home, literally every 7th person you come across is from India as the census goes, and feeling like an alien in a world of highly developed infrastructure and high speed cars, public parks groomed like private lawns and high-rise buildings illustrating the affluence and technological advancement. Yet, living in US is far different from what one imagines as an outsider.

The real American life, or the real life for a person living in the US is no different than the life elsewhere, and here I refer to life as ones ability to extract out of life, whatever one can. There are homeless people in the US too. And in my observation, their level of disorientation is no different (or better) than that of an Indian beggar. In India, being homeless is not that big an issue, some people live without a home by choice. People here drive the ugly, scrap metal cars too. People here also skip eating-out to save money like our parents always tell us back home. People do ask for help from neighbors and friends, and family when they are in need. People are unhappy about certain decisions made by the government and do express their displeasure in all the usual ways that we do back in India. So, what is the difference of living in the US. I believe the difference is freedom of personal expression. “I am who I am and no one has the right to make me feel ashamed for who I am.”

I was driving to work the other day when I saw a license plate on a car ahead of me, it said “LUV PUNE” and what a pleasure it was to see PUNE embossed on the license plate of that sedan.Why the heck didn’t I see that ever back in India? Why?

For starters Regional Traffic Office, the Indian counterpart of DMV, doesn’t even allow one to have a personalized license plates. And even if they did, I don’t think anybody would ever put up a license plate saying “LUV PUNE” or “LUV DELI” or “LUV JAPR” becauseĀ  we are too proud to associate with anything that is local. It is considered as a sense of low self esteem.

Secondly, it certainly looks more cool to have a the firebrand Metallica poster on your car rather than printing “I listen to Laxmikant-Pyarelal.” Now come on, who listens to them anymore. If you asked the kids, they would faintly associate it to some musicians that their grandfather might once have possessed a broken record of, without realizing that their parents were singing the songs composed by the duo to woo each other back in the 80’s. As a matter of fact, that is the time when Metallica was just beginning to form a band. I guess, as long as you keep banging your head and no one can see your lips, to check the lipsync (or the lack of it), you might as well pretend that you are the greatest fan of Metallica and advertise it on the back of your car.

Dear readers excuse my ancient views, but I feel strongly about the old times, for the quality of life and artful existence, which is being replaced by strong economic focus and mechanical way of life!

Anyway, moving on, I tried to think what made that person put such a license plate on his car. Was it nostalgia? Did it emerge from the need of associating with one’s roots? Or was it because it was exotic to use a name that most of the people (here in the US) wouldn’t figure out easily?

Whatever it was, I just felt good to see that someone had dared to express themselves. This post doesn’t have any point as such, just a random rambling. I just wanted to praise the person for having expressed their love for their roots.

Keep up the Luv!