Harrison playground, V Street, Washington DC 20009
Sukun Park, Defence Colony, New Delhi 110 024
India and the US, our last two countries. In the common imagery, two totally different worlds, two almost opposite cultures. Consumerism vs spirituality, opulence vs starvation, Mc Donald’s vs holy cows…
But is that really the case? How close or how far from each other are India and the US in reality?
If we consider playgrounds as a simplified version of the world, and the rules that are in use in them as somehow reflecting the rules and the values of the societies outside, we can observe the following:
- Similarities: consuming alcohol is ‘bad’ in both societies (not sure about Italy and France, but a picnic without a glass of wine does not seem to be possible in our home-countries).
- Also littering is considered a reprehensible behavior (fair enough. Perhaps a similar sign should be put at every corner in India).
- Pets are not allowed either in the US or in India. Interestingly though, in India it seems important to distinguish ‘dogs’ from ‘pets’ - perhaps because in Nagaland (one of the states at the border with China) dogs are actually a delicatessen and not pets...
- And finally, cursing seems to be censurable in both countries.
- Differences: in India it is prohibited to play football, cricket or hockey in the parks. This seems unconceivable in the US, where, on the contrary, parks and playgrounds are meant for people to meet and play.
- In India it is prohibited to steal plants from the park (!). In the US this is not even mentioned: who would even think about that…
- In India it is prohibited to pitch tents, cook, and perform private functions in the park. Well, this gives you, in my opinion, a nice portrait of Indian society…
- ‘No drugs’ seems to be an unavoidable rule in the American parks. ‘No smoking’ (and ‘no gambling’) seems to be sufficient in India.
- And finally, dreadful but not surprising, weapons are not allowed in American playgrounds. In India, on the other hand, the rules of decorum impose people not to spit or urinate in the park.
Indeed, two different worlds…
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