India Used to Be Intimidating. Today, Not So Much. (Norman Costa)
Once again, Ruchira, I take a moment to read your post, Overselling India, and write a comment, and in no time there are too many words to put in a comment block. So here is a new post, and I hope you and others may find it interesting.
I do not know whether to describe Overselling India as interesting, fascinating, a little petulant, intriguing, or bemused. Of course, I am not really looking for the word that describes your thoughts, rather, a way to describe my reaction. I guess the best way to describe my reaction is, “I have to think about it.”
My reaction is personal, and self-referential. That is all I have to go on, so here it is.
In my younger days, I would not have understood your exception to the idea that India is cut from whole cloth. I and all other Americans knew India through the movies. The plot settings, landscape backdrops, costumes, and characters were all the same. To the extent that stories varied, they were still derivative of Kipling and the 'high achievement' of Victoria's empire. In short, there was only one India, and only one experience.
With all the diversity we have in the US, we can still think of ourselves as one America – if only because anyone can arrive on our shores and get permits and licenses to open a business, drive a car, or travel in a matter of hours. It is the same for everyone. The Statue of Liberty is still iconic for America as the Taj Mahal is for India. What may be different, I think, is that the Statue of Liberty is a near sacred object for many Americans. Immigrants who arrived in New York harbor on a ship never forgot the sight of Lady Liberty, nor the deep emotions the felt.