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When Rip met Rishi

Manjula Madan

Rip was Ripendu Ghosh but he liked to be called Rip, even back in India. He was the coolest cat of Hindu College. The girls swooned over him, especially over his looks and hip accent. Even back then, he'd feel like he actually belonged in America, that he was meant to be there and that his birth and upbringing in India was a mere accident. So it just seemed destined that he would get to go to his chosen country on a scholarship. Of course his being an IIM graduate helped a little, but he gave the credit for that to his own destiny and not to that venerable institution.

Anyway here he was meant to be, and here he was. He adjusted quickly to the new environment and soon began to feel as if he'd never been Indian at all.

And then he met Rishi. Rishi Krishnan was a true- blue Indian American. His father had settled in the US and was a respected surgeon. His mother, a physician, had however kept him in touch with his Indian roots. He spoke chaste Hindi and had even mastered the Indian dance form of Kathak.

Rishi and Rip met at a mutual friend's party. They found they some common interests but one thing was sharply different. While Rip tried every which way to hide the fact that he was Indian, Rishi seemed to be proud of his Indian heritage. He loved Indian music, Indian food and Hindi movies. What was more, he encouraged his friends to experience Indian culture at every given opportunity. Mark, his childhood friend, had already started to learn Hindustani music.

At first Rip could not understand this. How, and most important, why did Rishi like to be so 'Indian'? All along, he'd thought that living in America and being a true 'American' meant that one had to blend in completely, right? Then why did Rishi flaunt his Indianness so much?

But slowly he began to understand. That by trying to 'blend' in, he'd almost disappeared. That's right, disappeared. He'd been so busy trying to hide his true self, that he forgot the fact that he actually loved 'maachh-bhaat', that he missed the scent of the good old 'chaat-wala' in the back-lane of his home in Delhi, that he yearned for the crowds at the Durga Puja celebrations and the rush of excitement at watching the latest Hindi movie, first day first show. And then Rip became once more his old, carefree self. Even his American friends were impressed at the change in him. In fact, he found he had even more friends than before.

And now he liked to be called Ripendu and his friends quite liked it too.

(Manjula, our guest writer, a lokvani fan, write from LA. )

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