All Indians Love Gandhi

A rickshaw driver in Goa told us about a fabulous beach outside town, and offered to take us there. He dropped us off a few miles away and when we got there, the beach was all rock and full of nothing but vendors. I bought a Gandhi shirt from a young girl.

I wore it for a few hours before I had to change. The shopkeepers saw the shirt and tried to sell me wooden Gandhis, five films about Gandhi on one DVD, and anything else they could push on me

When I got back to Bengaluru I often found myself wearing it around the hotel. The Indian residents laughed at me. “Indians hate Gandhi,” my friend Prashant explained. “It’s obvious you’re American if you’re wearing a Gandhi shirt.”

But when I wore the shirt in Puducherry, people would gather around me, amazed that I knew him. I asked them if it was true that Indians hate Gandhi. They looked horrified.

“No,” said the twenty-something youth at the front of the group. “We love him.” He pointed to the giant Gandhi statue standing on the plaza.

I asked him if he knew they didn’t like him in Karnataka.

“All Indians love Gandhi.”

When I returned to Bengaluru and told this to Prashant, he shook his head. “You were misinformed, my friend.”

“I heard it straight from an Indian. They love him in Pondicherry.”

“You just don’t understand India.”

He was right.

About the author

Benjamin C. Krause has consorted with hippies in Goa, chatted with call center cubicle workers in Bengaluru, and been thrown out of a discotheque…

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