I’m travelling to Germany for an orientation in three months. I’m going to be deemed a global citizen and at twenty, I get to travel the world for free. This organisation, The Melton Foundation chooses a couple of students every year from different countries for a global fellowship programme. And this year I was chosen.
The interview –
I wore my pink kurta and did my hair. I was looking for the perfect pair of earrings. I found the silver loop earrings under my table in my very unkempt room, and put them on. Katy Perry was on in the background. I had one and only one plan. To be Indian. Because come on, everybody loves a slum dog millionaire. I was attending this interview simply because I love it when people want to know what I think and get to see those only parts of me I want them to see.
When I entered the waiting area, there were a bunch of people in formal clothes and I launched my behind on a big empty couch, reading Femina. It was 11:00 AM. I was called inside and the introductions took up thirty minutes. By introductions I mean, my name, my strengths and weaknesses, why I wanted to be a global citizen and so on. Let’s skip all that, because I gave them text book answers and I don’t have the patience to dwell into it. My WordPress “about me” section is much more interesting. Hahaha.
So the reason why I’m publishing this item, is in this next segment. My Indian-ness was charming them already, and they asked me the question I did not have a ready-to-serve answer for.
Lars : “What advantage will an Indian have in this fellowship programme?”
Me: ” Excuse me, you mean like how I’ll be better than the fellows from other countries?”
Lars: “Rehearsed answers bore me. Tell me honestly, your country already has a number of things to focus on. How will you help the world scenario?”
Silence for a couple of minutes. I wanted to tell him about how India is rocking the economy and the Modi wave and our IQ rates and our raw hard work and this and that. But he had just said he does not want a rehearsed answer. This was make or break. Silence for a couple more minutes.
Lars : “Hey, you okay? ”
Me : “Sir, have you heard of ‘Jugaad’?”
He repeated the word and made air quotes. I knew he had no idea what I was talking about.
Me : “Jugaad is why an Indian will be better on your programme. Jugaad is why Indians are better in every programme. We bend the rules, we mend principles, we listen and take notes in the background and we also rise and turn heads. We know how much to succumb, and we also know when to show a finger to the system and get our way. We are vindictive and we are persuasive. And that sir, is Jugaad.”
I walked out of there with my cheeks hot. Had I just implied Indians can be world leaders and top criminals? I saw a scrawny boy adjusting his spectacles and wiping sweat off his forehead. He also had the foundation’s brochure in his hand and was memorizing their vision and mission. I couldn’t help but smile at my audacity.
Sixty-five days later, I have my passport and visa and the German fellows are excited to have us over. Had Jugaad got me into a global exchange initiative?