Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Black Desi and White Pardesi

Once upon a time would be the logical way to start the story of Desi and Pardesi… Their first encounter happened more than nine months ago. Both were students at IIMB; him as a genius having cracked the CAT, her as an exchange student having obtained her first destination choice, India.

Everything seemed to separate them. He had traveled India, she had traveled the world. He was dark, she was fair. He was Hindu, she was catholic. He spoke Hindi, French was her language. He had black hair, she was red headed. He was fluent in English, she could hardly use the language of Shakespeare. But more importantly, Desi was a boy and Pardesi was a girl…

Was it really love at first sight driven by a common open mind and an attraction for contrasts?

The first time they met was purely accidental. He was pursuing a blondish girl who was temporary staying in Pardesi’s room. Gosh, he wished that girl would be alone in her own room. Who was that girl, Pardesi, doing there? Pardesi and Desi politely talked for a while, Desi looking at the blonde, Pardesi unimpressed by that pretentious guy.

Pardesi was quite a busy girl. She was willing to discover the real India and used to spend most of her time out of the campus with her Indian friends. Making Indian friends was a full-time job in which she succeeded despite a hint of Indian xenophobia and a load of stereotypes about foreigners. The most difficult cliché to fight was the erroneous belief that all foreign girls are easy. Hence, Pardesi avoided any ambiguous situations.

In the meanwhile, Desi was busy with his classes and his grass gang. He didn’t really match the IIMB profile, enjoying life to the fullest and studying only when absolutely needed. Besides spending time with his friends, Desi used to love flirting with girls, especially the ones with boyfriends.

Their story could have ended here but life is an unpredictable adventure. Two weeks later, Pardesi was coming back from a pub and heard some noises coming from the L-square. “An IIMB party?” she thought. Curious, she followed the music and discovered a strange scene. People were fighting the air with arms and legs in an unsynchronized way. She went to the dance floor trying to imitate the acrobatic figures. Much later in the night, Pardesi was still energetically moving her body. Desi, a dance lover, was up till dawn as well. He noticed Pardesi. He couldn’t say she was a good Indian dancer but recognized the fervor in her movements.

Desi and Pardesi became friends. During his vacation, discretely, he used to go at least once a day to Pardesi’s room. She was stuck on campus to study for her mid-term exams the following week. They used to talk about everything, getting mentally closer.

Both were enjoying their friendship but no physical attraction existed between them. She was relatively too tall and he was relatively too short. Innocently, like a guy naturally inclined to touch a girl skin, he was sometimes trying to play with her body but she always fought back.

Life seemed great when, one day, a small incident happened. That night, Desi slept in Pardesi’s room for the first time. They had known each others for more than a month and Desi massaged Pardesi to comfort her.

Were they already in love?

"What is love?” would say Desi. Pardesi didn’t know either.

On the campus, Desi and Pardesi would rarely show up together in public. There were only a few couples among IIMB students and Desi and Pardesi skin contrast, which they both loved, would have drawn attention on them to an undesirable level.

The secret was not fully well guarded. Desi’s grass gang knew about Pardesi hardly a few days after their first body interaction. They didn’t really approve Desi but Desi, a free thinker, didn’t care. On Pardesi’s side, all her friends knew about Desi and it created some jealousy sometimes resulting in friendship loss.

Their life was incredibly busy, hardly sleeping four hours per night, meeting friends, studying, working on projects and sharing some more than needed couple time. Pardesi had also planned to travel in the northern part of India. She left by train leaving Desi on the campus due to his academic obligations. They both had a hard time sleeping alone, feeling lost in their respective beds. 10 days and an abnormally high mobile bill later, he went to pick her up at the station and they happily reunited.

Both were tensed. Pardesi was about to go back to her country. She had tried to prolong her visa but India’s bureaucratic administration didn’t allow it. The nervousness was tangible. One night, when Pardesi came back late on campus after spending the evening at one of her friends, she found Desi angry in their room. He was supposed to work on a project with one of his groupmates and Pardesi didn’t expect him to be waiting for her. They silently fought. No word was exchanged but it was in their mind, she was returning home…

They both thought the relationship would end when Pardesi would go back to her country. On her way to the airport, Pardesi cried in Desi’s arms. Since then, they are still in touch, spending hours daily on the internet or on the phone. Does someone need to miss his/her lover to really feel love?

Maybe they were unconsciously in love before admitting it. Desi and Pardesi are shy about their emotional feelings and have a hard time publicly expressing them. Both are proud characters and loving someone was almost a sign of weakness from their perspective.

Do Desi and Pardesi have a potential future together? As Desi’s elder sister would ask, are they going to marry or is it only a pastime? Both know that their relationship won't be easy. They will have to accept the stares, the peer pressure and the cultural differences.

Update: Four years later, Desi and Pardesi are still together.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

I, Miss India

“I miss India” or as one of my friends would say “I, Miss India”?

Despite living in Belgium right now, my mind is still in India. I think India. I dream India. I speak India. I live India. I watch Bollywood movies. I try to learn Hindi.

My non-Indian friends are slowly getting sick of this obsession! If you know the cure, please help. I dread the next phase: me wearing the saree in Belgium ;o)

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Bharata Natyam

I went to my first Bharata Natyam class today!

Stamina was not a problem but I seriously lacked coordination (head, hands, legs, body, eyes, etc). In such a dance, every detail is important as your body is supposed to express the lyrics. What’s more, I faced a totally unexpected problem: my fingers are not flexible at all!

Try the Hastàbhinaya here.

According to Wikipedia, Bharata Natyam is a classical dance form originating in India. It owes its current name to Krishna Iyer and later, Rukmini Devi Arundale.

Bharata could refer to either the author of the Natya Shastra or to a legendary king after whom the country of India was supposedly named, and natya is Sanskrit for the art of dance-drama. It was brought to the stage at the beginning of the 20th century by Krishna Iyer.

Bharatanatyam is the manifestation of the South Indian idea of the celebration of the eternal universe through the celebration of the beauty of the material body. In Hindu mythology the whole universe is the dance of the Supreme Dancer, Nataraja, a name for Lord Shiva, the Hindu ascetic yogi and divine purveyor of destruction of evil.

Some videos here and here.