The Entitled Indian

(or) we Indians are like that wonli.

Yesterday, I happened to see an ad for in TV. A husband and wife visit this upscale jewelry showroom. They get interested in a necklace, and when the salesperson ventures to pick up the item and show, the wife quickly says “could you please show us that other piece as well?”. With the salesperson turning his back to them, they quickly snap a picture of the necklace. Cut to the next scene, where they are seen showing this picture to the shopkeeper of a small neighborhood jewelry shop. He says “yes, it can be replicated — ditto”. The ad happily ends, exclaiming what all we would do to get a deal.

I thought about this for some time. I realized that I see many of these “we Indians are like that wonli” ads these days. It is portrayed to be a good thing. The most important part — the populace seem to identify with these ads very quickly.

Today, I was looking at a post in a Facebook group called Chennai Startups. A budding ‘entrepreneur’ had posted about his website. A one-stop shop to download e-books of college textbooks free of cost. He went on to explain how he identified this ‘idea’ during his college days, when many e-book links in the web sadly pointed to payment gateways. He threw in some analytics about people from 126 countries using his site, and ended the post by inviting ‘co-founders’ to join him in realizing this product.

I sat there looking at the post for some time, and then posted a quick reply pointing out the copyright violation angle. Pat came a reply from another person, supposedly working in defense industry — “If you follow all the rules as given by government or society, you can’t even build a paper plane. Internet is free, along with everything on it. It is supposed to be”.

The reply was illuminating — it was demonstrative of the Indian mentality on so many levels. I wrote a more detailed reply, but even as I was doing it, the futility of that was painfully obvious. A couple of others chimed in, and just when I thought a few more interesting perspectives might turn up, came the user validations. A person posting a feature request — “please include the searchbox option” and another one complaining that “Computer Vision with Python e-book is not available”.

Yesterday, in my FB wall, I posted something about Breaking Bad, which led to a few of my friends asking how come I hadn’t seen it yet. My answer was “I am postponing it because it is painful to search for illegal links that actually work across 5 seasons”. I called it the first-world problem of a third-world fellow. But, I would feel cheap justifying it by the statement “we Indians are like that wonli”. I think that’s something that I should carefully avoid.

It is difficult to grow out of what has been essentially our defining mindset, through multiple generations. I try. I am glad that iTunes is there since I am now able to purchase the music that I want, song by song, without actually burning a hole in my Indian pocket. But things like Breaking Bad still break me.

You know what, I don’t know how to end this rant, and I think that is actually fitting.

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