To me, Independence Day is a feeling, an emotional vortex. As a child, I remember sporadically penning patriotic songs in a black diary while watching them on television. Going by the speed of songs on the screen, I was almost writing in an unrefined shorthand. I’ve heard old folks talk about the freedom struggle most of my life. How difficult it can be to lead a subservient life, something our forefathers faced under British rule. Many tales tell us how they never gave up and fought hard and eventually broke free from the clutches of colonizers. That’s how our path was paved to live the life we do.

For 362 days, I relentlessly talk about issues we need to discuss and focus on. Examples include hate crimes, rising rape rates, child sexual abuse, mental health, acid attacks, child marriage, human trafficking, unemployment, manual scavenging, unsolicited violence, pollution, law and order, corruption, etc. Just a reminder that India boasts the world’s highest female feticide rate. Since we are celebrating 74 years of democracy, let’s get into the thinking mode and do what’s needed.

However, I always remember, though, that “Koi bhi desh perfect nahin hota … usse behtar banana padta hai. “As we as a nation embrace our nation’s birthday today, do not forget to celebrate and relish the struggles of those who made it a reality for us.

10 Things I love about India

  1. India has a reputation for being a nation par excellence in celebrating the important days. The biggest and most vibrant of all is the flag hoisting ceremonies, parades, cultural events. Don’t we know how to party the best?
  2. It would be an understatement to boast about Bollywood! Being the home of the best patriotic films like Rang de Basanti, Swades, Lagaan, Mangal Pandey, Gandhi, and so much more, we fill our hearts with great pride for the love of our country.
  3. You must have had your fair share of patriotic songs, no matter what day or age you are from. They possibly came to you from a broken radio, or maybe from your mother, or someone telling you stories about the freedom fighters. India has the best patriotic songs to evoke desh bhakti. You could literally cry listening to the songs.
  4. We have the most cutting-edge street vendors. From the regular wares to fake DVDs to Gucci glasses to bags of roasted peanuts and socks. But do you know the most about what I love? Ear cleaning on the go, street dentistry, and astrology on pavements.
  5. If we let the toilet part slide, Indian trains are the best and will take you on a trip through thundering towns, inching past villages, dotted coastlines, and vast mountains. And, that is precisely why we lovingly call them the “lifeline of a nation.”
  6. Humans are emotional. But Indians are largely sentimental. If Indians unite for a cause, you know, no matter what, they will find a solution. We know how to get things done. We know how to fight for feelings.
  7. People from all over the world flock to India to get a bite of its infamous entertainment, culture, and lush landscape! There are hidden gems everywhere from Hyderabad to Gujarat to Kashmir to Kanyakumari.
  8. Food! Be it the starkest street food or exotic cuisines, we have the most bewilderingly tasty and satisfying food.
  9. In India, the fascination with cricket is real. It is a way of life, rejoiced by every age and gender, by every class, and let’s not forget how cricketers are worshipped as gods.
  10. With so many religions and cultures coexisting, it is rare for a week to go by without some kind of celebration in India. We invite everyone to share joy and happiness. When you refuse the food that is offered, we get angry. Eat it! There’s no fat. It’s only love.

In India, wherever you turn, there’s always something to do or to see or feel. There are things and experiences all day long, no matter where you happen to be, whether exciting or surprising or satisfying or challenging or informative or frustrating. That’s India. Actually, that’s just a tiny slice of incredible India.

I just love it all.

But I won’t take this freedom for granted and stop working on getting better. If each one of us is better versions of ourselves, the world can inevitably change.

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