August 15, 2001: This Independence Day, I have a confession to make: I get tears in my eyes every time I see the tricolour flutter against the sky. I also get teary eyed when I see young Indian men in uniform, and when I hear the first strains of Vande Mataram. Of course, I swell up bigger than a balloon with pride at the same time. Of course, I understand that this form of sentimental patriotism is not considered "cool" by many. It is not nearly as fashionable as mehndi, tattoos and pierced noses that epitomize "Indian" chic these days. But, let me tell you, it is a lot harder to maintain.
India is not an easy country to love. Our politicians are a joke; our courts are a travesty; and the bureaucrats are equal to the most heinous form of torture imaginable. The "system", that all of us love to blame, ensures that all of us are pulverized into submission by a steady, daily, grind. Try getting a child into a half-decent school and you'll realise how omnipotent the "system" is. The parents are put to test, not the child. In fact, the child's intelligence, energy, talent count for nothing even in the so-called "progressive" schools. What counts is the parent's position and their bank balance. Or try getting a complaint registered at the police station. From chain-snatching to domestic violence to murder; you'll feel that the cops are doing you a favour by hearing you out.
You see, that unsung hero, who is hanging up his boots, is my father. And he is a constant reminder of the sacrifices my ancestors have made for this land. He is also the reason that I cry at the sight of my tricolour.