Boy am I glad to see you! See the thing is, when I moved to Mumbai (back when we still called it Bombay) it was the year 2000; the first Internet bubble hadn't even burst yet and we were still reeling from all the Y2K suspense, #BulletDodged! Slumdog Millionaire was at least a decade away from putting us on the proverbial map (FYI, nobody ever has, or ever will fist bump each other "Jai Ho"), and nobody spoke in hashtags, #JustSaying. I was 22, owned an alphanumeric pager and Facebook didn't exist. But something else did. Something that most people -- at least those that lived outside the Indian subcontinent -- hadn't fully grasped.
While the world watched documentary after documentary on our economic and social challenges, the evolution of the global desi went unnoticed. We spoke English, followed international pop culture and developed a taste for global trends. At the same time, we danced unabashedly to Bollywood songs at our best friend's wedding, observed centuries-old traditions, and fell deeper and deeper in love with our beloved Bollywood (which is a blog post of a different color, and coming soon I promise!). Basically, an entire generation of educated, cosmopolitan, travelled and proud Indians that embraced the world. In the '90s you'd have to wait for an expat uncle to bring you back that fancy shampoo or a generous aunty to gift you those new Nike kicks you could only read about in an imported magazine. Not so in the new millennium. In fact, now we can proudly claim our own iconic Indian brands that are celebrated the world over. (PS. Yoga? Yup that's ours too.)
Young India today spends hours on the Internet, and watches Homeland and Game of Thrones in the same sitting as Bigg Boss and Koffee With Karan. We own modern smartphones and spend hours on Tinder and Snapchat, just like everybody else. We even make our own listicles!
When people ask me what I write about I always answer, "I write what I know." I grew up around the world but I've lived in India for two decades. My India has always been filled with enterprise and growth, Bollywood stars and big dreams. Yes, we still have our demons to overcome. Those documentaries were made for a reason. But we also have much to celebrate, and that's why I do what I do. As we march towards progress, it's important to celebrate our successes, and to remember all of the things we love about our country, big and small.
So you see, it gives me great pride to welcome you to India; as further acknowledgement that the global desi has really and truly arrived; as another sign that all of our stories are worth telling; and as a new and powerful platform to share them from. So thank you Huffington Post, for coming over to say hello. Can we buy you a drink? #JaiHo!