M.Phil Comparative Literature
Today in class, ma’am told us about the theorists’ recurring efforts to form an apt metaphor for the cultural diversity of America. Starting from the well-known ‘melting-pot’ to ‘mosaic’ and finally to the ‘rainbow’, they were dissatisfied. The proper one seemed elusive to their grip. Presently, they seem to have achieved a consensus on the idea of the ‘salad-bowl’, for the diverse vegetables constituting a salad don’t lose their individual identities, yet when they come together as salad, it’s even tastier.
It suddenly occurred to me that our case in HCU is no different. What are we? An admixture of different states, cultures, races, religions, castes and creeds. It’s a microcosmic India that we see here. Sharing the same classroom, hostel room, etc. we very hardly take into account any differences. We have, in a sense, acculturated ourselves with the rather pan-Indian milieu here. Yet, we don’t seem to like to forego our essential ethnic/regional identities here. We evoke Onam, Pongal and sundry other culture-specific festivals here onto this alien land and thus reiterate our essential Malayali-ness, Tamil-ness, etc. Nonetheless, we never forget to invite and include other students outside the specific communities to share the event. It’s like saying-‘Have a taste of our culture’; and further asking, ‘How do you feel?’
It is a perfect give and take here. Never is this an upholding of ‘regionalism’ or ‘parochialism’. It is, on the contrary, based on a broad consciousness that joy only multiplies on sharing, plus an opportunity-grabbed for the presentation of one’s cultural uniqueness.
For those who are on the brink of losing their specific cultural identities, this celebration throws up an option of ‘tracing their roots back’, by taking part in the ceremony. And for others who are already in close touch with their unique cultures, it is a perfect occasion to fantasize for a while that they are at their homes yet again! I believe it is moment of true elation for the academic diasporas here-recreating the quintessence of Kerala, Tamil Nadu, et al. at their doorsteps. And for a while, one lives only as a Keralite, Tamil, etc.
As it is said, it will be pretty boring if everyone plays the same orchestra. It is the combination of different instruments that makes it interesting and lively. So, let us play different tunes. It shan’t be cacophony, but rather the perfect euphony.