Are we ashamed of our history or is it that we are just too indifferent to what is not directly affecting us? This question comes to my mind more often these days when I am teaching my children history. We as a family love travelling and have tried to go to as many places as possible, by road, rail or any other means available. Its always been fun (though it didn’t seem like that sometimes!), educating and more importantly helped create memories.
During some of these visits, we have gone to some historical sites and places. My husband and me would get the girls to read up on the place or the famous personality from there to help connect better to what we were going to see. We thought it was a fun and much more effective way of teaching them about our rich cultural and historical past. But I would always end up depressed at the end of the trip.
The reason, or reasons, for the sadness would always be the same. If you have visited any of our historical monuments or sites, you would know what I am talking about. The defaced walls, mutilated facades, deteriorating works everything screams for some attention and care. The hordes visiting them are just ‘visiting’ them, they do not feel for the place. Hawkers set up stall in every conceivable place possible. All the illusions about having a large portion of our population starving goes out of the window (broken or damaged, albeit) when you see piles of empty packets of Lays and Kurkure lying around. Let’s not forget the empty water bottles too! The guides are most of the time clueless, just rattling out the details which they have been memorising from the first day at work. They wouldn’t know the difference between a Mughal emperor and a Nawab. So instead of trying to educate the children about the historical significance of the place or getting them to experience the place, we end up trying to teach them the do’s and don’ts when going out, the social responsibility of each of us to keep the place up. So are they wrong when the only thing that comes to their minds when we talk about a place we visited is how unkempt it was or how someone was defecating in the famous gardens while the security staff and others were standing near the chai-walla enjoying the hot tea and gossip?
Why don’t we feel any kind of pride when we go to such places? Are we ashamed of our history? Why can’t people be a little more careful and sensitive when visiting such places? Yes, I agree, there are a lot of things I am not proud of from our history. But that’s my perspective. What’s more important is that all this has already happened and is a part of us whether we like it or not. so why not just accept it and enjoy the good parts of it. Maybe Aamir Khan should be asked to conduct classes on TV as part of his job as brand ambassador for tourism in India. Our children will grow up as proud citizens of India only if they can see around them edifices of glory, bravery, ingenuity, grandeur and honour being respected for what they are. Maybe..maybe tomorrow will be a better day for these mute witnesses of our proud past!