February 03, 2016

The Airlift effect

Read Twinkle Khanna’s blog last week; she jokes about trying to help her husband promote his latest movie, about the Indians marooned in Kuwait as a result of Saddam Hussein’s invasion over there. I am beginning to love Twinkle’s blog and wait for the new posts; she writes humorously on politics, news, the elite class and even her family – referring to her actor husband Akshay Kumar as ‘the man of the house’.

Watched Airlift yesterday and I just had to write about it. I like Akshay Kumar’s movies mostly - the ones which are based on comparatively recent historical incidents. This movie is basically about 1990 airlift of Indians from Kuwait during the Iraq–Kuwait War.  It was carried out from 13th August to 20th October 1990.  The war was a result of Iraq accusing Kuwait of stealing Iraqi petroleum through slant drilling. The script and screenplay works, but the point the director Raja Krishna Menon makes at the end - that no matter where you are, what you do or regardless of how you feel about your country, during the time of crisis, when you experience severe identity crisis too, only your country will come to your resort – simply won me over. Why? Because this is something I have always felt very strongly about.

I wasn’t even born when this airlift, recorded in Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest evacuation happened, but I never needed to read this piece of history or watch this movie for that matter to feel strongly about being an Indian. What does it mean being an Indian? THAT YOU LIVE IN INDIA. I can’t relate to people who settle abroad in the first place, forget about relating to how I would feel if I was stranded in a situation like this. Simply because I know that even if I am shot dead in India during a war- I would not feel identity crisis – till my last breath. And that is really important to me.  These situations can arise- whether you are in Kuwait or USA or UK or Greenland or Timbuktu or the North Pole. Get the point I am trying to make?

Even if you are an NRI, your friends there would always refer/introduce you as ‘my Indian friend’; even if you get a citizenship, you have to say, “I am from India”, when they ask you where you come from. So where do you belong once you leave the country you are born in? I really can’t answer that question as I haven’t found an answer. What about the children born outside of India to Indian parents? Can’t answer that one either.

As per Ministry of Overseas Indians (MOIA) annual report 2012-13, there are over 25 million overseas Indians all over the globe and whenever need arises, it is the Indian government’s responsibility to bring back the country’s citizens safely. Not only this evacuation during Gulf war, Indian government has successfully executed many such missions – ‘Operation Sukoon’  in 2006  to evacuate Indian, Sri Lankan and Nepalese nationals during Lebanon War; ‘Operation Blossom’ in 2011 - Around 8,000 Indians were evacuated with help from Indian Navy from Libya. Haha! I don’t relate to people so proud to settle down abroad due to better opportunities, education or because-life-in-India-is-just-not-good, hence I don’t even feel happy about them leaving and living there. 

It is simple ya – Indians should live (love) in India; Kuwaiti should live (love) in Kuwait; Americans in America; British in UK; Greenlanders should live (love) in Greenland; Timbuktu people should live(love) in Timbuktu (it’s a city in the African nation of Mali); and if you are born in the North Pole by any chance you should live (love) in the North Pole. Get the point I am trying to make? And yes, your country you MUST love. Especially if it is developing one- it needs your love more than anything else. Love makes everything happen. It makes the world go round, so changing the face of your country is no big deal.
I would leave India only if I have unmanageable personal or financial crisis. Or if suddenly one day the oxygen just gets over due to the over and uncontrollable population and pollution – I have dreams like that so just saying. And if I do so – I would be ashamed of myself.

I just know one thing about myself which is 100% true - the fact that I am an Indian. My country is definitely my first love. I cry at times when I listen to the National Anthem. 

The Airlift effect

I Whatsapp mom –

Me: Just watched Airlift. Must watch. Do you remember reading about this in the newspaper?

Mummy: Yes, I do. I will try and watch it.

Me: I feel so strongly about this mummy. I am not ashamed of the filth, poverty or cow dungs here; I am ashamed of running away. I can change my religion every month- until all Gods of the world get confused who I am, but I can’t ever change my citizenship or nationality. All the while in the movie, I was thinking why the hell did they have to go and settle down in Kuwait?!?! Just see- one day this will happen even in the most developed countries. You have to come back to your country ya! Where else can you be during crisis. You should have seen how Akshay Kumar cries when he sees the Indian flag.

Mummy is online. I can see blue double ticks, meaning she has read my messages. I wait for her reply. Suddenly she goes offline. It was 1 AM.

Me: Mummy! How can you go offline?? I am waiting for your reply. Reply!!

Me: How can you do this? I was talking so passionately. I hate it when you do this.

Me: Mummmmmmmmyyyyyyyyy  replyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy!!!!!

I got her message in the morning.

Mummy: Sorry betu, I feel asleep reading your messages. They were too long. I took a while to read, but I read all of them right now. You sound like a patriot. I am amazed to hear you talk like this. Did you have dinner last night? I forgot to ask.

Me: What ya! I am talking about the movie and you are only interested if I ate or not.

Mummy: While you work hard on your big ideals, I need to take care of your small needs, don’t I?

I got airlifted – felt as light as I would if I were floating in the air as I know I have my mom. I thank my mom for making me who I am today and supporting and hearing me out each time, even though she falls asleep at times; even though she might not agree with me or my morals at times, but most importantly to take away my pain each time I confront her with it and make my heart feel light as air. 


  1. Do you want to say anything for your two aunts who settled in USA abs visit India every now and then !

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