My America Tour -3
Telugu Original : Avula Gopala Krishna Murty (AGK)
English Translation: Komala Venigalla
On the way
After watching the beauties of nature while flying high in the skies we had our first halt at Derham, an oil rich sandy city in Saudi Arabia. The airport was not specially attractive and there was not much activity going around . Next we landed in Cairo thinking of the Egyptian rulers, pyramids and the knowledge of their ancient generations. The airport was bigger compared to that of Derham. It looked strictly disciplined place with big built people in lengthy dresses. Arabic architecture was found everywhere.
Our third stop was at Athens. It is small but the home of ancient civilizations. the mental pictures of great Greek philosophers- Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, Protagoras, Democretus, Thucydides, Thales and historic events like Trojan horse made me emotional in that city. The small buildings with Mangalore tile roofs, painted pots, baskets made of leaves and reeds and their musical instruments made me feel that we are closer to the Greeks in our culture. They are our older brothers in our ancient civilization .
Then we stopped in Rome- famous for their kingly dynasties. There is a similarity between Athens and Rome in the sense, that the Renaissance movement flourished in both those cities. It is the home for art, architecture, paintings which preached by the world renowned artists and personalities like Leonardo da vinci, Michelangelo , and Medici. Rome`s leanings are towards the west. We dont see here neither the French sophistication nor the Egyptian strength.It is a mixture of many things.
Our last stop was in Paris-the airport is illuminated with delicate fanciful scenes.The people were active and yet it is peaceful. It was spectacular. The people revel in their fashionable and passionate life. They seem to be proud of themselves, their literature and their western culture. From there we took a long jump, crossed the Atlantic ocean and reached New York-the city of cities.
People, Attitudes, Life Style
We may sit in our country and wish well for the world but it does not help us to know the outside world. We remain ignorant.If we tour various countries, meet people, observe their nature and their culture it may not give us a chance to know much about them but it surely enables us to know ourselves.
America is a big country though not population-wise. It helps backward countries and also interfere in their matters.Thus it is a powerful nation. Their population was up to 18 crores and 20 lakhs ( in 1963).It is less than half of our population -ours was 45 crores ( in 1963). In 1812 their population was 72 lakhs and 50 thousand.In 1852 it was 2 crores and 20 lakhs. Meanwhile 20 lakhs Europeans migrated to America. According to Homestead rule of 1862 migrant could buy 160 acres of land paying Rs 20 or 50 per acre. That helped land distribution mightily and large number of people migrated and settled in America.
People from almost all European countries we find in America. It looks like a small size Europe. Not only Europeans many people from Russia, Arab countries, Africa, Asia, Japan and China went there and formed settlements. America is a merger of various nationals into one country- a mixture of many minorities. The greatness of America is that internationalism is an inherent part of their nationalism.
The feeling of individual right is dominant here in America. They dont` differentiate between a master and a servant – that feeling is predominant in rest of the world.The way they address each one as mister is to be appreciated.
All the settlers consider themselves as Americans and English as their language. Because of this we find unity in diversity in this country.
People here are conscious and instead of expanding their families they expanded their wealth in the past 20 years keeping limiting their population between 18 and 20 crores (1963) They dont` have to struggle with family planning projects like us. They consciously limited the families while enjoying the comforts of life.
A peculiar tendency of the Americans is noteworthy. When they work they are meticulously immersed in it undisturbed When they sit to eat they do full justice to eating. They enjoy the free time with their families visiting different places. They know how to work, how to eat and how to enjoy life. That is their specialty.
Their weekend is like a festival to them.Rarely people abstain from weekend travel and enjoyment.They rush out in their cars. For me that looked like more strain than relaxation. When I pointed it to some friends they too shared my opinion. We can make them rethink and see the point.
They are fully conscious of their rights as well as their duties.
We see humane brotherly feeling towards blacks and their colored people here. But in the southerners we see the pride of their color though their number is on the decline. Their special status is taking a downward trend.
America is a country of distances-place to place, state to state thousands of miles apart. Though all speak English there is variation in style between the people of north, south and east. They are not different in eating and dressing. There are differences in industrial areas and agricultural areas. Though we see differences in some ways unity is predominantly felt there.
We can quote small examples of how humans behave similarly worldwide. We see people caring for pigeons feeding them and flying them . In India we see humane services people feeding ants with sugar.In this beef eating nations we find all such people-the humane services society.
I had witnessed a painful scene at Kaufman cafe in Belmont Plaza of New York. In India dogs, pigs and beggars fight with each other to collect food half eaten, thrown out of hotels and homes. Such scenes dissolve our independence into a zero, humanness melts into nothingness. A different scene , not that intense, I came across here. Some food was served in small cups. One gentleman just tasted a bit and pushed the dish away. A cleaner there removed top portion from that cup and reserved it for himself. It really pained me.
The scene in the restaurant was a painful reminder of India. I had not seen many such things in America. Yet I could feel the sadness thinking of them.
I did not see beggars in America. I saw an odd looking man with a card board plate around his neck asking for alms. That is their way of begging for such people here. There are shelters yet I saw one begging in in New York.
One drunkard approached me in San Francisco and asked me to help him to buy a ticket to next city. I moved away saying sorry! I saw him leaving the place , he might have asked some others for help.
(to be continued…)
Komala Venigalla, wife of Sri Inniah Narisetty is a retired Assistant Professor of English from Ambedkar Open University, Hyderabad. Written on Modern Women covering various aspects of their lives in contemporary world. Traslated M.N.Roy’s Memoirs of Cat into Telugu. Contributed articles to Misimi Telugu monthly.