“The quality that we call beauty, however, must always grow from the realities of life” Junichiro Tanizaki
A Japanese journalist on a recent visit to India came away disappointed. The heat and dust, flyovers under which thrive huts with babies playing in the dirt, roads pocketed with potholes; made him write off the country in a single stroke of his pen.
His comments reminded me of Rakesh and Ramini whom we visited during a recent Qualitative study in India at their home in Bengaluru. They sat smiling on a wooden divan with a blue cover, a blue carpet, blue curtains and blue walls. This was the colour for the month in their home they said.
Ramini came from a small town close by and married Rakesh in a love marriage. She gazes into his eyes with a smile, giggles and tells us how she wants to tattoo his name on her arm just like all the trendy young girls in Bengaluru. She is his partner in life and also in the little construction business they run.
Between cups of warm ginger tea, Rakesh smiles proudly and shares his dreams of growing his small business and expanding to China. He shows us his old laptop which he wants to change to a Macbook to declare his standing as a business owner when he passes through the machines at the international airport.
Together they recount the long days at work, the fun weekends spend trying out new cuisines at the high end UB city, shopping at Central and watching TV with Rakesh’s old parents. His parents who teach them the traditions in an otherwise ultra modern life Rakesh and Ramini lead.
A while later, we are joined by some of their friends, other couples with whom they go out on weekends and occasionally to resorts for longer breaks. They recount numerous stories of fun, hope and despair which bind them together.
Rakesh and Ramini’s story is the story of many aspiring Indians in modern India. The story of the people and the web of communications they weave around them. It is this web of communication and social network that is the real infrastructure of India, the structure that supports individuals and makes up their lives.
I wish I could have taken the Japanese journalist with us on this Ethnographic trip in India. Funnily though our client for this project was Japanese and so we content ourselves with the idea that maybe somehow we were able to bring to light the real story of India.