Sundeep Bhutoria

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ess bee

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Sunday, August 15, 2010

Independence Day in Kuala Lumpur

Attended the Independence Day flag hoisting function at the Indian Embassy in Kuala Lumpur. The Ambassador Vijay Gokhale hoisted the flag at about 9:30 am and read the speech of the President of India given to the nation on the eve of Independence Day. Besides the embassy staff, there were few of the local Indians at the function.
I felt very happy seeing the enthusiasm among the children during the flag hoisting ceremony as they took pictures of the Indian Flag and sang Jana Gana Mana. Thanks to their parents, at least they cherish the Indian Independence Day in their hearts. After the flag hoisting we were treated to a breakfast of Indian delicacies at the Embassy and the Indian Ambassador made sure that each guest who arrived to witness the flag hoisting on their own got something. I chatted with some of the other embassy staff and Mrs Pooja Kapur, Counsellor for information, culture and community affairs.
I was wondering if a gathering of 60 to 70 people was enough in a place like Kuala Lumpur that has a strong Indian presence not only in numbers but also in terms of power sharing and economic clout. Malaysia has a large number of Tamils who have been living here for two or three generations but most of them have never been to India. They wear lockets of Indian gods and traditional jewellery and the ladies apply sindur and use bindis, watch Hindi films and have Tamil ring tones in their mobile phones and many associate with many other aspects and symbols of Indian culture but call themselves Malaysians.
In fact, every 5 star hotel buffet has some Indian food items. Some of these people of Indian origin have really done well in this country. When I landed here yesterday from Air Asia I was really in two minds whether to travel by this low cost airlines but my experience turned out to be far better than expected. I think it is better than our Indigo which I regard as the No 1 airline for economy class. Air Asia has won the award for being the world’s best low-cost airline.
The most successful business tycoon of Indian origin in Malaysia is Tatparanandam Anandha Krishnan or popular as Tak, whose family migrated to Malaysia from Sri Lanka. He is one of the richest Malaysians and is associated with companies and brands like Maxis Telecom and Astro and also with the famous the Petronas Towers, satellite MEASAT and Tanjong Golden Village (TGV) chain of multiplexes. He is said to have recently settled in Melbourne.
While on my way to the hotel from the airport in Kuala Lumpur, I asked my driver, who was listening to Tamil music, from which country he was?
He said Malaysia. After some 20 minutes of friendly conversation, he admitted that he wants to stay in India. He said he felt whatever it may be, he’d have lot more mental peace being in India. He had never been to India nor did he have any idea about the significance of August 15th as he asked me twice what would I do at the Indian embassy the next day being a Sunday. But his comment that it is better to belong to the country of one’s origin conveyed a great existential truth that, I think, all NRIs face.
ess bee

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