I recently hit the theatres to watch a movie. I guess the last time I watched a commercial potboiler with a tub of popcorn was 2 months ago.
Anyway, I got the tickets, bought popcorn and took my seat. A couple of minutes later, a young foreigner took the next seat of mine. I had this surreal-like feel for a while.
While the stereotypical Indian in me pondered ‘why’; the ‘thought-provoking me’ quoted ‘why not?
I knew there were around 10 full minutes before the film could start rolling; so I mustered some courage to strike a conversation.
Hi. I’m Vishal, where are you from? I asked with a lump in my throat. I could already sense some discomfort in his body language.
But, he shut my doubts with a broad smile and said - Hello! I’m Miguel. I’m from Spain but settled in Bangalore.
Since there was no room for more time, I pushed the conversation and came to know that - he was residing in the Silicon Valley of India for the past one decade.
I asked him why? I know it was none of my business, but still, I gave it a shot.
‘In a gifted city like Bangalore, you’ve got the chance to experiment multiple things. So, I freelance for an advertising agency, I do photography and I travel places’, he said.
For a second, I gave a thought to myself.
Maybe, I should decode this guy rather than watching a commercial potboiler. Before pushing myself to throw the next question, we were alerted to stand up for the ‘National Anthem’
I put up the popcorn aside to stand and to my astonishment, so did Miguel. But, I wasn’t game for that reaction from him. I knew he was a foreigner and I also knew it wasn’t a compulsive requirement for a guy from a distant country. Maybe, I was forced to think like that after seeing our own Indians debating over the issue.
But, Miguel broke the stereotype in me for the second time and joined the patriotic chorus and guess what? He knew our anthem by heart. For a second, I thought, the anthem was latched onto his head. The moment we finished reciting the anthem, some guy from behind with an enthusiastic tone chanted - ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’.
This time, Miguel surprised everyone by chanting back a ‘Jai’ in a high pitch.
Since there were few more ads to go, I quickly thanked him for showering respect on our country.
I knew it might have sounded a bit cliche for few. But, Miguel sipping his coke quickly said - ‘You don’t have to thank me, buddy. As I mentioned before, I’ve travelled a lot, explored multiple places, met thousands of people and binged on crazy adventures. So, what’s wrong in giving your 2 minutes for a country that’s given so much to you in return?’
By now, I was not just shocked. I was inspired too. So, before the credits could start rolling, I just applauded him for having a broad mindset on things. So I just ended the conversation by saying - ‘I wish even a few people in India could follow your approach, Miguel’
‘You can’t force people to do things. Because they are too busy in following an ideology which ironically doesn’t give a shit about them and they’re also too ignorant in differentiating between politics and patriotism. While the former plays poison, the latter at times becomes an antidote. However, ironically speaking, why are these issues popping out only in the last 5 years?
After listening to what he said, I just laughed my lungs out and replied ‘Welcome to India once again, Miguel’.
Written By Vishal Aryan Komara