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The depth of my apreciation for India

I realize India has been a sleeping giant that people have ignored for too long after the British ravaged it.
Me meditating on a Barudaber temple in a 2016 Indonesia. Photo taken by my Mom, Iris Giladi.

For years, I have been utterly obsessed with Indian culture, ever since I learned about Hinduism in my middle school history class. This curiosity solidified when I went to Indonesia, a country culturally adjacent to India, and saw what Indian religions were like. 

Like Judaism, Hinduism is among the oldest original continuous religions in the world. 

And I love how it has respect for the souls of animals in a way I hadn’t seen in Judaism or other Abrahamic faiths. It led the way for other Vedic religions like Buddhism, Jainism, Sikhi and Shintoism. 

William Daryumple’s upcoming history book “The Golden Road” explores how India created an empire of ideas through its cultural influence on Asia and ancient Greece, Rome, Arabia, Persia and eventually white hippies. For those too impatient to read, listen to “Empire” podcast episodes 128-132, by authors Anita Anand and William Dalrymple. 

Eventually, after the Ukraine war started, I became fascinated by geopolitics, read many history books, listened to podcasts and kept up with obscure events worldwide. That is how I came across the “Empire” podcast where I learned about the history of the East India Company, the British Raj and the Indian resistance against the British. 

I discovered Indian political commentators like Abjhit Chavda. I enjoyed listening to the “Sham Sharma Show.” I get much of my American news from Palki Sharma at First Post, a better TV journalist than Americans. And despite the turbulent politics of India, she seems to highlight Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s outstanding diplomatic achievements and divisive blunders. 

I realize India has been a sleeping giant that people have ignored for too long after the British ravaged it. For most of its history, it has been the wealthiest region in the world, along with China. 

While it was only united a few times under the Mauryan, Mughal and British empires, and suffered a partition, it didn’t take long to bounce back after suffering 73 years of East India Company rule, and 89 years of being a colony of the British crown. 

The British were demoted by India as the fifth-largest economy in the world and will be the third-largest economy in the next few years. Major British companies like Range Rover, Jaguar, and Tetley have been bought out by multi-billion dollar Indian conglomerates like Tata. 

While my parents love to travel and have an adventurous spirit, especially my dad, they are not as interested in India as I am. My mom says she doesn’t want to get depressed by the poverty and my dad doesn’t want to go because of the weather and food.

Even my Brazilian stepmom who regularly scoffs at my mom for talking about how dangerous and poor Brazil is, is not appreciative of India. Brazil is not much better than India, a country of gangs, favelas and criminal politicians like Lula Da Silva. 

Despite my family’s skepticism, I still love to listen to Indian music, am awesome at yoga and am part of the Bollywood Dance Club as one of the few non-Indians. 

I feel odd at times not speaking Hindi and having a bland American accent, but I enjoy the process of learning. Indians are what Jewish people used to be when they came to this country, high economic performers, with big dreams and immense pride in their culture and nation. 

I pray that, unlike the American Jew, they don’t assimilate to the point of losing what makes them special.

Despite the obstacles I have faced in traveling to India, I plan to study abroad as soon as possible to see the country. My family often tells me not to have too high expectations. I don’t expect India to be like Bollywood; it’s like expecting America to be like Hollywood. But I believe that going to the country for an extended period of time and expecting to be uncomfortable at certain times would be beneficial in the future. 

India is a fantastic civilization, and maybe this obsession is a fad. After all, before India, I was obsessed with Australia, and then I went and had the time of my life. Perhaps I will be obsessed with Polynesia or the Eurasian steppe in the future, but I will never lose my appreciation and curiosity for other cultures. 

Me after being assaulted with colored powder during the 2024 Holi celebration courtesy of the Indian Student Association. Photo taken by me.


Ari Sorokin can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Ari Sorokin
Ari Sorokin, Reporter
Dogs are Ari Sorokin's first true love and caring for them is his pride and joy. He loves keeping an active and creative lifestyle through his passion of drawing, writing and yoga. Sorokin is also a bit crazy about Indian culture.

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    Humberto // May 4, 2024 at 2:53 pm

    Bollywood dance club is amazing! Bro hope you can study abroad in India soon!