Open up your minds…

As I visited India after 4 and a half years last month, one thing hit me big time. More than the pollution. More than the constant lack of rules. More than the annoying bag-checks in every store in the shopping centres. More than the filth.

It was seeing how one or two individuals I’d known for years and was close to were so narrow-minded. I thought of them as having regressed. But after talking to some mates here, I realise that we probably never openly discussed issues such as the ones we did this time and therefore, I never realised just how narrow-minded they were. I have generally been open-minded. My college in Bombay made me a lot more and Australia has made it even better. Just as an example of this narrow-mindedness was the issue of homosexuality (“Why are they making such a big deal of this”? was what was told by this person) and another by the same person was how some suburbs in Bombay are dangerous “because they are full of Muslims” and how another suburb had so many Christians.

What the fuck???

I honestly did not know how to respond. (Shakes head, rolls eyes)

Those comments above beat another one hands down made by another friend who thought I should seriously consider “settling down” (aka get married dammit!!!) because who would look after me if I fell sick? My answer to this friend was — in the past 4 years, I have fallen sick and I’ve been okay. If there is a day I fall so sick that I can’t take myself to the doctor, well, my mates are always there to help. Absolute worst case scenario: There’s always a bloody cab or ambo that I can call!!!!

It just made me wonder though — these are educated people. They have done postgraduate degrees. And if they think in this manner, what hope is there?? How stagnant can one get in life that they cannot open their minds up a teeny, tiny bit to views that are not similar? That they generalise and overgeneralise (Hmm…that is done by the Indian media too though)?

At the end though, it just made me sad.

Sad to think how individuals such as these will stick by their views rigidly and not see the world around them. And if they ever decide to go outside that little comfort zone of theirs, they are in for a big shock.

Because out in this world, there’s a lot different from what’s in India. In that little suburb and its surrounding areas where we grew up.

Change is good.

But you need to have an open mind to do so.

Until next time,


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  • Kartikey
    15 August 2009 at 9:41 am

    there are postgraduate girls who feel that women must get married or have a steady partner to coincide with their education skills; would you call them stagnant or backward?

    *they can argue with you, provide you with practical examples [aka they are smart]

    *but marrying because you are sick is no reason to marry [smiles]

    *India is the most open nation in the world when it comes to homosexuality. there is a difference between an old British rule and Indian history.

    *with droughts and floods and riots, homosexuality is not the top agenda for most people in India. So ‘why are they making such a big deal of it?’

    *does open-minded include being open to close-minded?

  • Amol Naik
    15 August 2009 at 11:02 am


    Its ultimately what you said at last…”little suburbs”

    Apparently, when we leave India, we just get broader..there is no exception. Our conviction is challenged at all times, and it widens horizontally and vertically. The eyes open wide and mind yearns for more knowledge. That is why spending time outside India is worth the experience.

    Probably, it is not “their” fault, it is just that they have not been outside their cacoons…

    So…M’am…forgive them with compassion…for they are no real sinners…;)

  • ani_aset
    15 August 2009 at 6:26 pm

    god bless you πŸ™‚

  • Richa
    15 August 2009 at 7:45 pm

    And then they must have accused of turning into an NRI!

    I feel your pain PB. I have had similar experiences. I usually avoid talking to them about anything but their spouse and kids. It keeps them happy and me out of frustration…

  • indianhomemaker
    16 August 2009 at 11:07 am

    This time I have landed here through Blog Bharti πŸ™‚

    Not at all surprised PB πŸ™ For most Indians any news that does not concern them but does concern some injustice to another group is just media hype.

    And even today we hear how ‘all said and done, they have to adjust with the husband and in laws”.

    It isn’t that we are not changing, but not all are changing. More and more parents are taking their daughters’ careers and self reliance equally seriously.
    And we do see a larger number of girls daring to get out of abusive relationships – though many Indians will call it the bad influence of the West, I know many young women who are living happily on their own.

    Single women are no longer a rarity, and that’s a huge relief. In fact I hardly know any single men.

    Within India there are many, many Indias. Within a family there are so many ‘values’, for some all values end at the female members knowing their priorities, but not in all. I see all (or both) Indias in my own family.
    There are some who make me want to blog about women’s issues, others make me want to celebrate the new Indian woman.

    Change is good most of the time, though it is happening drop by drop and pocket(locality) by pocket Psych Babbler.

    Sorry for the long comment you touched a nerve with this post.

  • Ramakrishna Podila
    16 August 2009 at 4:04 pm

    Hmm…good to see the blog! But this won’t be enough…
    we got to be the change and be the medium to induce change!!

  • Solilo
    18 August 2009 at 1:03 am

    You know what if you go and mention anything like this to anyone living in India then you will be accused of NRI throwing tantrums. Since we live outside we somehow lose our right to have a say in the things that happens in our country.

    Agree with you on what you said.

  • Psych Babbler
    18 August 2009 at 3:24 am

    @ Kartikey: I would call them backward if they think every other woman must do the same. The ones mentioned in my post couldn’t give me decent reasons to get married…and mind you, I argued longer than what I have written. India the most open country about homosexuality??? Are you kidding me? Yes, it was an ancient Brit rule, but the Brits have moved on. India hasn’t. I can assure you, the person talking about homosexuality doesn’t give a damn about the other things you have mentioned. And the fact that I sit through conversations and tolerate closed minded people probably indicates that I am open-minded enough to see other views but not take them on.

    @ Amol: I agree with you. I went to the city to do my undergrad and that made me a lot more open-minded whereas these indivs did their studies in and around our little suburb.

    @ Ani: Thanks…I think?

    @ Richa: To an extent yes…but then, I have always questioned some things so it was more like “I’ve changed a lot more” πŸ˜›

    @ IHM: Thanks for the comment! πŸ™‚ And I guess change is taking place…but I doubt I will be alive to see the mindset majority change.

    @ Ramakrishna: Welcome to my blog! I must say that while I have tried talking to these individuals they are stuck in the mentality that they have to do as family says or have to think this way….and that’s what makes it hard. I think if they were even a little less rigid, change would be possible. Else, it’s like fighting a losing battle.

    @ Solilo: Lol…I have always thought this way though. I guess the change is I voice my opinions a lot more. But yea, I guess people do think it’s the whole case of an NRI throwing tantrums…

  • Kartikey
    18 August 2009 at 9:23 am

    Hi Psych,
    The British have moved on but it is taking time for Indians to move on. That is the problem and not that Indians are hung up. There were minor protests against the gay-parade a few days back but no violence.
    As a race, Indians didn’t torture homosexuals.
    That we need to move on is correct but not through unbridled criticism.

  • Blue Bike
    18 August 2009 at 6:59 pm

    while you’re accusing Indians of “generalising and over generalising” … aren’t you doing that yourself ?? Based on just a few experiences from acquaintances you’re passing a judgement on the entire populace … we might have two bad’s for each good but still its not all gloomy

    Trust me … there are many good people out there … for every person who thinks muslim neighbourhoods are dangerous … there’s someone who doesnt link “danger” and religion … for every homophobe there would be someone who accepts their way of life and considers them equals

  • Samuel Miguel
    19 August 2009 at 6:41 am

    I don’t think one has to live outside India to be open-minded. India is so diverse, an open mind is a necessity if you have to co-exist with your neighbours. Probably, your knowledge of India is limited. You needed to know more about people in India and how you cannot generalize about Indians. Do you know anything about North East India for that matter? Look at how quickly India is changing.

  • Psych Babbler
    19 August 2009 at 11:49 am

    @ Kartikey: There have been gay-bashings in India. I knew a guy in college who had been bashed when he was in Delhi and in Bombay. I’m pretty sure there’s others out there but just as women in abusive relationships do not report their husbands, with homosexuality being illegal, it’s unlikely most homosexuals reported gay bashings.

    @ Blue Bike: I’m not generalising or over generalising. If you read carefully, I have specified my two mates and other individuals like them (because I’m certain there are others like them…) I have not said the entire nation is like that. I have said there are still individuals in India like that. After all, there are several Indians that have read my blog and think like me! I’d be stupid to say the whole country is narrow-minded!!!

    @ Samuel: Again, read comment to Blue Bike. I’m guessing you guys arrived from Blog Bharti which seems to imply I have said all Indians need to open their minds. There are definitely Indians out there that are not narrow minded. I was referring to these two people and others like them. And I have said they need to get out of their little suburbs. Oh, and one thing I learnt when studying Anthropology was that the tribes in India were way more open-minded than the ‘educated’ city folks. Having said that, India is changing and developing a lot in terms of technology but it still has a long long way to go when it comes to social issues. And that’s not a generalisation.

  • SSQuo
    25 August 2009 at 4:49 pm

    πŸ™‚ This post can really be misinterpreted if people want it to be. I think its important and good that you clarified it with your comment above only because I probably get what you are saying, the most important thing is to include that ‘it is not a generalization’ but an observation of two particular people. It is then imp. for you to reserve your judgement on these two alone and not transfer it on India (even if you may find more people with a similar thought process).

    I agree. there are many who are close minded, and for those you have many who are open minded too – its how it is anywhere in the world. I think upbringing and exposure to the world around you rather than blind faith or cocooned living contributes MOST to this mindset.

    I am Indian. All Indians are my brothers and sisters. yet, all brothers and sisters do NOT think alike! So there, let’s just be a one happy dysfunctional family. πŸ™‚