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Friday, June 04, 2004

Letter to India

South Asia
Indian Subcontinent

June 4, 2004

Dear India:

First, I want to welcome you into the developing world. I think you'll do well here. You have a lot of drive, stamina, and talent.

I saw a program about outsourcing to you on the Discovery Channel last night. (You might not get Discovery yet; it's a channel with lots of documentaries and other factual programming.) I'm very glad you're making more money and enjoying it. We weren't so keen on the call center jobs anyway.

India, I must confess that I'm a little worried for your welfare. Please don't think me condescending; you are a wonderful nation and I respect you entirely, but I have an insider's view of the United States. Your young women, at least the five interviewed on the program, hope to create a "Little America" over there. They said that they're enjoying their new freedom, including living with friends in apartments, nightlife, and shopping. I'm glad your women are getting a greater shot at independence, but shopping shouldn't be confused with freedom.

I love America, don't get me wrong, but it's not perfect. I'm hoping that you can learn from our mistakes. Take our capitalism and our women's lib and have great fun with them, but keep the good things from your own culture. Those strong family ties are wonderful. Too many of us Americans are adrift, isolated, and lonely. Please don't make or consume too many cars--you'll regret the traffic, pollution, and oil prices--but follow Europe's lead and create some fantastic public transportation. Be careful about media images, especially those used in advertising. You should speak to South Africa. We've just learned that black women there are suffering from a sharp spike in eating disorders since being exposed to American and European advertisements. While we're on food, those young ladies I saw on TV are already eating Pizza Hut. Trust me, your own food tastes better and provides more nutrition than our fast food. If you're going to take McDonald's, make sure you get health clubs, too. It would be a shame if the country of glorious nan woke up obese one day and had to go low-carb!

And please, I beg you, don't import Britney Spears; I wouldn't even wish her on the Taliban. Your Bollywood musicals are great fun--what a cultural treasure!--keep making them. Yes, keep doing all those beautiful things that make you...you.

We have a lot to offer you, but do pick and choose. Name brands are not happiness, after all. Don't trust every American with a gleaming smile. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to learning more from you. I really dig the yoga and Buddhism, and I keep meaning to read R. K. Narayan.

Keep up the good work. I hope to hear more from you soon.


P.S. Remember to make time for yourself during this transition. I know all too well the drive to work long hours, especially when starting a new job, but it's the surest way to burn out.


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