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Aug 15th 1986 - The Independence Day.

The ground was full of people. The Hindustani music filled the air, people were wearing patriotic colors. It was a scene each one of us has witnessed ever since we started attending Pre-school .
The only difference was, it was taking place in Los Angeles -USA.
The Indian community there had decided to make the day a memorable one by organizing a great Arts & Crafts fair with all things indian. I was with a few American friends who wanted to experience Indian event. Our main interest was the food stalls of course. The main event of hoisting the flag was just a formality that needed to be gotten over as speedily as possible.
Every one was waiting for the chief guest to arrive. A few hungry souls had already done a round of food stalls. The fair promised to be a gala occasion ending with a Jagjit concert in the evening which of course we were not attending. There were parties happening with friends, again with Indian themes and more Indian food.

The Chief Guest, The Mayor of LA, arrived amid much fanfare & hoisted the flag. The band struck the National Anthem and the familiar strains of Jana gana mana filled the air.
Automatically my spine was straightened, shoulders were squared, chin went up & my eyes were focused on the flag. My posture would have been envy of any armed force cadet that day.

I felt a surge of emotions rushing through me as I took a deep breath and fixed my eyes on the Tiranga fluttering in an alien blue sky. It looked very lonely up there. The whole event stopped being a mere formality. My eyes were filled with Saffron, white & green as I started to listen to the words of the anthem with my heart.
In the land of red, white & blue I was getting reacquainted with my colours. I sang the Anthem like never before. It was like making a personal pledge, a promise to my flag. The pledge of allegiance that we were forced to parrot in school started making sense.
Till that day I had never thought deeply about what it means to me to be an indian.

From that day onwards I have lived in the awareness that where ever I go, what ever I do, I will always remain an Indian and be proud of it. I consider this a gift which America has given to me.


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