Anand Rangarajan 11.30.2006 permalink
I decided to spend a few months in Bangalore, India this year - hence the lack of blog updates. Basically, I wanted to check out for myself what the fuss was all about. I've been visiting India every two years or so but only for a couple of weeks and so hadn't really absorbed all the changes that have been happening over the past fifteen years or so. (I grew up in India but have lived in the US for the past twenty two years.)My conclusion: This place has gone nuts. Absolutely frigging bonkers. India in the early 21st century is like an acid trip - good and bad - mainly because all human achievements and foibles over the past 8000 years or so are preserved in living color. India never throws anything away - and I mean that - nothing is thrown away.What you have then is hunter gatherers living side by side technogeeks. I exaggerate obviously but one quick scan of the TV channels reveals this juxtaposition.
You have ancient Rig Vedic incantations on one channel, a tango and salsa influenced Bollywood dance on the next and a discussion of the Indian IT scene on third and so on. The Indian mind of the 21st century is a highly contextual filing system. Every moment invokes a particular context and perspective. One moment you're praying to the fire gods, the next moment you're debugging your cell phone.I think India is striving for completeness in a way that makes the US's earlier attempt look like a joke. In religion, you have a baby Jesus shrine on a major intersection, the Muslim call for prayer at 5AM every day, and innumerable Hindu temples, Sikh shrines etc. all over the place. All the religious forces are here clamoring for attention. On one channel you have GOD TV, the next one is MAA TV etc. In music, you have hip hop fused with Indian ragas with some rap and salsa beats thrown in.
There's plenty of jazz-raga fusion going on and there's also a fairly nascent rock scene emerging. I got a chance to play with a roadside band in Bangalore a few weeks ago to promote the standingonfish blog which was a lot of fun. If all goes well - and this is a big if - India should have a developed full spectrum culture in about 100 years with unimagined levels of mixing and fusion of disparate world cultures. Imagine a newly constructed cybertech village with postmodern gurus next door to a premodern village from 6000BC which practices cannibalism - and you get the idea. From Cannibals to Cannabis - now that's a nice slogan for India of the 21st century. Tagged with: Bangalore, India, Rig Veda, premodern, jazz, raga, fusion, fundamentalism, mystics, Bollywood, context