“India’s destiny lies not along the bloody way of the West, of which she shows signs of tiredness, but along the bloodless way of peace that comes from a simple and godly life.” – Gandhi, Young India, October 7, 1926.
In general Gandhi believed that India had to blaze its own trail in order to find its true place on the world stage. It could not merely tack on Western principles and be off and running.
So many books written today rightly look to India as the next-in-line to bear the torch of democracy, and each has its own view of what India must do to be successful.
Bharat’s Chai Stand is my attempt to add to the conversation.
While the characters in Bharat’s Chai Stand do not adopt a pacifist approach to the intruder who runs amok in their village, it’s the way in which they deal with the threat that symbolizes what I believe is one of the greatest strengths India has: adaptability to the unexpected.
Early in the script the villain expresses a sentiment that most first-time visitors to India will understand: a distaste for India’s capacity to rearrange and sometimes steamroll expectations.
But most foreign visitors who find India difficult do so because we only notice the negative “Unexpected” and do not stick around long enough to notice the good “Unexpected.”
Bharat’s Chai Stand is a celebration of “The Unexpected” in India-about how ordinary citizens can utilize their penchant for adaptation to handle challenges in a way that can only be described as “Unexpected.”
When I think of the good “Unexpected,” I think of a middle-aged Uncle from the country who, while crammed beside me on the standing-room-only general seating car of a Delhi-bound train, began showing me web videos on his mobile. He introduced me to this “Don’t-try-this-at-home” video of a guy train surfing in Mumbai.
This encounter was integral in shaping a character like Bharat (which is the Hindi word for India for those who were unaware), a chai wallah who is using his western friend’s GoPro to launch a successful youtube channel featuring “people-are-amazing” style viral videos like this one in which an Indian man carries 22 bricks on his head and then walks the plank as if it’s a sidewalk.
Bharat’s Chai Stand is about six characters whose seemingly small contributions are creatively applied to a life-threatening situation, and the results are…unexpected.
This is a comedy, so you know how this is going to end, but I think you will be pleasantly surprised by “The How,” and I hope it will give you a positive understanding of the good “Unexpected” that India has to offer.