Nodding my head along with every sentence in this piece. Thank you, Nish.
Having travelled in India (it is a mesmerising, fascinating, intriguing, confounding, simultaneously heartwarming and heartbreaking place to which I can’t wait to return), I see what you mean here. And I also see this play out amongst our American Elite. It sums up what’s wrong with the system; maybe it’s just everywhere. Ridiculously huge homes need a cleaner or a painter or a fix-it guy (we’re rich+cheap, so we’ll pay them under the table and call it “frugality,” saving a buck wherever we can so we can afford the next smartphone or other fancy toy), but the owners of said homes don’t want “those types” in their schools, alongside their children (“why?” I scream in my head, “will they maybe get educated and do better than your kids?”). They vote for people to kick the “others” out, yet to make themselves feel better, pay $25 a year to some celebrity’s PR campaign on the plight of some country’s poor or homeless. Maybe they take a selfie with the celebrity, too. That’s the hypocrisy of the American Elite.
What was really evident to me when I was in India — for better or for worse — is that people owned who they were. Maybe it’s cultural or maybe it’s some other, more realistic, sense of self; I don’t know. The metal collector is proud to have a job so he can support his family. The guy selling samosas on the street is proud to be the best samosa-seller in the neighborhood. The chaiwallah’s smile says it all. Sure, all want improvement and a better quality of life — who doesn’t. But there’s this divide — I’m not sure where or how it happens…is it education? Is it a certain income threshold? Is it not having to share a room with another relative? When people cross that line they put up a wall that says you are now “them” or one of “those types” and forget their history or where they came from.
I just wonder how these people, these Elites, sleep at night, contradictions rallying in their heads upon fluffy down pillows. It must be exhausting.