[Haimish is] a Yiddish word that suggests warmth, domesticity and unpretentious conviviality; Haimish, its root from the German Heim, or Home, reflects not so much hominess, casualness, as it does acceptance, of feeling safe among friends.
Probably you would have already read about the famous Haimish Line concept in this article by David Brooks of the New York Times, but, I had it in the back of my mind since a long time and after a recent trip to the US, I experienced the whole thing myself, so here I am finally writing a piece on it.
for the uninitiated and lazy ones who didn’t bother to open the link !, here is what Brooks had to say – whether for travel or for life, it’s more fun to live among the people, to stay in hostels rather than dine and sleep in five star settings. He illustrates his point using a trip he took with his family to Africa, where he experienced both settings.Well, there has been a lot of discussion about the post, some of which was even politically motivated, here is something that might interest you if you want to dig a little deeper. I shall only talk about my own experiences.
India has been predominantly a very friendly society since forever, people here are very open about their life, neighbors are considered as extended family and the family trees are not only very vast and diverse, but also everyone is connected to everyone. But, things are changing here, and what I believe, the post-independence era has accelerated this change a lot.
On the other hand, American Society is very individualistic, very independent and sort of disconnected with fellow beings. I knew this all along from the stuff i had read on internet and from the talks I have had. Last month, I had gone on a week long trip to the US for attending a global summit on entrepreneurial innovation, and was organised by the Kairos Society, where I am a global fellow representing India. I got to meet people from all different countries from almost all different parts of the world, and thus I have a lot of personal experience backing up my text in this post.
As I was saying, American way of life favors individualism and everything is built up upon that. They have apartments full of people, yet nobody is sure of who is living next-door. People prefer going for interest based meetup groups in the other corner of their city but they dont want to say hello to the person whom they meet everyday while he is walking his dog. People prefer GPS over the person in front of them when asking for directions. It seems every human communication is viewed as an activity for which they would have to be accounted for. But, it doesnt mean that people there dont want to talk or engage in meaningful discussions, infact that was one of the one thing that I was really amazed at, during the conference.
We Indians, atleast people uptil my age-group, have grown up seeing the west as a formidable neighbor, we try to copy everything they do in order to become one of them. Sometimes, I think, people feel more confident and respectful about themselves when they see themselves a step closer to their American dreams. Thus, because of this dilemma in our already complex community, life has changed a lot, people have suddenly become very unfriendly in India. I see, people dis-concerned about their peers but still connected wth the family members. This has actually confused the Indian people, now we dont have a culture to follow, we have invent it so as to have it running in India and still acceptable anywhere in the world. Afterall, in this Globalized Cloud decade, everyone is connected to everyone.
I really enjoyed the discussions I had at the conference, but still there existed a void when I spoke with people outside of the society, a void which I have started feeling in the Indian society as well. Well, India had always been on the ‘right side’ of Haimish line till now, I’m afraid with the growing influence of the west in India, we might hop onto the otherside.