The Changing Faces of Indian Teens

Contributed by Avinash Ramchandani
avinash@indolink.com

When a person walks into the street into the city of Mumbai, they can only think of one thing, "Wow what a mess!" People walking from place to place, taxis stuck in horrible traffic, autorickshaws avoiding the traffic jam by driving around the cars, and cows and other animals running accross the street in the midst of pedestrians making their way accross the crowded street. Anybody born and raised in the United States would either be facinated by how the people live there or annoyed by all the garbage collected at their feet while they stood in a spot for five mintues. But lurking behind this scene is the blooming western culture interfacing with the traditional Mumbai culture on the street.

Slowly a western craze has come over Mumbai. Although not severely effecting most rural areas and suburbs that badly, the urban centers have been hit also. Among the other centers hit badly are Delhi, Calcutta, and Madras. One lady in Delhi said briefly, "Indians have spoiled their own wonderful heritage. We have no culture anymore."

Wandering the streets now-a-days you can now not only see the traditional salwar kameeses on teenage girls, a fad of mini skirts, jeans, and even shorts has taken over Mumbai. The teenage boys have been hit a bit less, but still a new fad of baseball caps and wacko hair designs have altered the lifestyle of Mumbai.

Discos and pubs have opened all over the city, allowing teenagers in as long as they are 18 or even look 18. A few years ago, going to a disco was unheard of for teenagers, but now-a-days the opposite is true. Almost every teenager in Mumbai has gone to a discotech somewhere, sometime. It is slowly becoming the "in" thing while studying is becoming part of the backburners of life.

"One day, I went into the Gazebo restuarant and I saw one boy who I have known for several years. He came up to me and greeted me nicely but told me unshamefully 'This is my girlfriend.' Teenagers don't have any shame anymore." One traditional lady recalled this un-Indian moment.

A loss of the traditional Indian values has been accompanied by teenagers not caring about a traditional value of a person in general society (izzat). Teenagers have come up with their own society in which izzat comes from going to discos and hanging out with several friends of the opposite sex.

Boyfriends and girlfriends are not an uncommon sight anymore. Once upon a time, a boy that was after a girl would be secretive, only disclosing his attration to the girl and maybe his closest firends. Now-a-days girls and boys openly describe their attraction to each other, trying to mirror the teenage society here in the United States. Kissing and hugging in public is still uncommon, but this is still catching up with the teens.

Somehow, even behind this Western blockage, a small center of Indianess lurks inside the soul of these teenagers. Every time a teenager looks out into life, they see one thing, a life of being Indian. Although many teenagers believe that they are very western now, they will always emerge to be Indian. Sometimes people don't realize who they are, until they become who they are going to be.

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