[thechat] Flaws in Cultures

Madhu Menon webguru at vsnl.net
Fri Sep 27 12:31:01 CDT 2002

At 09:23 PM 27-09-02, Syed Zeeshan Haider wrote:
>According to my assessment, "trance" music and "Qawwali" are similar in many
>aspects. This thinking that "western music is always better than ours" offends
>me. I think both are arts and both have their own equal importance. One cannot
>abandon his/her own music for adopting western music.

But isn't that all a matter of personal preference? If the people in a free
society (where "free" is of course relative) want to listen to certain
types of music and ignore others, shouldn't that be up to them? As long as
nothing criminal is happening, why should one force one's views on what is
"proper" upon others? If a culture can't hold its own against a so-called
"invasion", especially one that's voluntary (the Americans aren't
air-dropping Britney Spears CDs on our countries yet, are they?), then
surely it wasn't that strong to begin with.

>In my city, there are people who like to live in western style. They speak
>English at their homes, they get their education in western environment
>and they
>many of them can't read Urdu

Does that make a Western lifestyle and speaking English a bad thing? Isn't
the ability to choose a lifestyle what democracy, er, freedom is all about?
In other words, should you force Urdu or Pakistani music on people? Should
*you* be deciding what's "right" to listen to?

For instance, I consider myself fairly Westernised. I went to an
English-medium school, interacted with a few hundred Britons throughout my
childhood, and went to University in Australia. I speak, read, and write
Hindi but can only speak Malayalam, my native language. There are many
aspects of Western culture (as vague as that term is) that I find
appealing, and some not so appealing. I adopt what I think is right. But I
don't try to force my idea of what's right down other people's throats. Our
democracy allows people to make their own choices. Britney Spears is
popular with the teenagers, but that doesn't mean Hindustani Classical
music is floundering. Both appeal to different audiences. Both have a place
in our society. I don't like Britney Spears (I don't think she can sing),
but I certainly don't go around telling people "don't listen to that
American tramp!". Similarly, I also don't go around telling people, "listen
to Hindustani classical music for the love of your country".

I suspect Ali Haider's labelling of his music has more to do with marketing
strategy than anything else. Call it Qawwali and people know what to
expect. Call it something "new" and it raises interest in the market. What
I find strange is that you find "trance" similar to Qawwali. In my opinion,
they sound nothing alike. Maybe this is a different version of Trance.

Cultures change over time. In this connected age (global village blah blah
blah), the spread of one culture to another is even faster. (If the French
can have "Le Fast Food"...) If society at large wants to adopt something,
it will happen. Desperately clinging to the past won't work. Heck, if that
were the case, I wouldn't be wearing a shirt and trousers. How dare we
Indians adopt the attire of our British rulers? That's cultural invasion! ;)



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Madhu Menon
Internet User Experience Consultant

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