Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Those meddling Americans!

As I was preparing to leave Bangalore, one night at the dinner table conversation turned to my notoriously naughty toddler. Pampered by all and sundry in Bangalore, my daughter would laugh in the face of disciplining adults. In Bangalore, people used to say "That's all right" and laugh when my daughter would try to push them, bite them, slap them; all the anti-social behaviors. Their philosophy is that the child is "king" until they can be reasoned with (around 5 or 6), until a Magna Carta of sorts will reign in the child's whims.

"What will you do if she misbehaves in public over there, like she does here? You cannot hit her in public, you know. People will call the police and children's services on you."

That is the fear of many, many immigrant parents, as I have learned. They fear/respect the American police because their honor is rarely besmirched, and, because children's services can take away your most precious belongings: your kids. Perhaps there is also a little bit of shame involved when the neighbors notice the police at your doorstep.

"That is what is wrong with the people over there! Nobody minds their own business!," he declared.

Somewhere in the back of my mind, the gong was struck on the Muppet Show... because that is what so many of my Indian friends say of the people back home in India.

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