Remembering US Independence Day in India

The GNFC school year was the reverse of what it is in the States. We got two and a half months off during the winter months, and spent March through November in India. Our July Fourths were not spent cooking out, or going swimming, watching fireworks, lighting sparklers, or feasting on fruit cobblers.

Our parents wanted for us to get far away from what they considered to be American: sex, drugs and rock n’ roll. They considered India– and its culture, traditions and customs–exotic and holy. But the moment we arrived we knew that India was NOT exotic OR holy, and they too had sex, drug and rock n’ roll – just a tempered down, more repressed version of it.

The teachers and dorm matrons at GNFC were so unprepared to work with children from different backgrounds, that they often lashed out at us, targeted us, showed belligerence toward us, and used pejorative language at us. Oddly enough, this actually mobilized us to exercise what we considered to be our birth right: questioning authority. Those unrealistic expectations, placed on us so drastically, only felt oppressive and authoritarian. We had an acute intuitive sense that it was supposed to repress our will, and independent thought: wholly American traits in our minds. The thought of giving that up caused deep hopelessness – that we would never go home again, that we’d be “stuck in India”.

So, in the only manner we could defy authority, we became overtly proud to be the “obnoxious Americans”. And Fourth of July in India motivated us, even if ever so slightly, to embody true American Don’t Tread on Me Independence. And yeah, it was often a losing battle, resulting in our faces meeting the stinging hot hand of a school marm.

I’m glad today that our parents were blind to the thought of us clinging to our American traits so hard.

…Got to hand it to GNFC and India – the place charged me to develop my own freedom of thought. And the battery that we were subjected to on a daily basis only fueled it more.