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Saturday, June 23, 2007
Westernization?

Forget call centers, America needs to start outsourcing reality television to India. Shilpa Shetty already managed to turn Big Brother into a slight basis for fame. Next up? Fear Factor. Most of the stunts that they carry out on that show are being actively engaged in on a daily basis by the lower classes of India. Stunt car driving sans seat belt, scaling heights with absolutely no safety gear--it's all part of their job description here. And depending on the adaptation of Hinduism being practiced, the food stuff should be no problem. Have you seen how disgusting Indian food can look?

Really, I think there's something in the water here that destroys the fear gene. I wouldn't know though--I'm not allowed to drink the normal water. I drink the purified kind for wussies that have American-manufactured immune systems. But this is the source of the creative driving and somehow quotidienne daredevil moments you see along the routes of Calcutta. It's why we're still eating our chicken reshmi kebobs, despite the proximity of the bird flu. Nothing gets in the way of an Indian enjoying her meal. We're just lucky that Hinduism conveniently prepared us to not give a damn about Mad Cow disease.

This apparent courage also contributes to a general lack of self-consciousness. The first day I was here, I saw a woman wearing a bright lime-green sari. In America, if you wear that sort of color, people assume you're supposed to be making some sort of rebellious statement against societal norms or something equally pretentious. But here, people mix and match prints and colors like its wrapping paper on Christmas Day. They were wearing salwar kameez with skinny pants long before the Urban Outfitters brigade began to (and with less of a sense of irony).

This is why I think an Indian Vogue is a bad idea. Most people here don't know how to talk about fashion because it's something they are rarely aware of. The Times of India has a "Tween Times" edition for the "teen of tomorrow." I won't start on the use of "tween," which is disgusting enough. Nor will I get into their horrible ads for the tween section, with slogans like "I don't wanna 'NO,' I wanna know!" But last week, they included a so-called fashion section that made Seventeen magazine seem like a fashion bible. Half the feature was copied from Teen Vogue--the rest was even more craptacular. "Ooh! That's the word that needs to come out when 'they' see you!...X-Factor: No piece of cloth or no extra accessory can add that zing to your persona. It is only you who can do it. Simply remember it's a package deal of the person you are that sells." I'm not fashionable, but if the best fashion advice they can give makes my eyes hurt that bad, then something is wrong.

But hell, what do I know. I'm probably never going to read it until India Vacation 2008. And maybe it won't have descended into a Hell of Aishwarya Rai (well, Bachan now) by then.

That Student




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