Friday, March 5, 2010

"What's a 'border'?"

A friendly chat between my friend and her Aussie mate brought up a blatant truth that this side of the world is incognizant of. Blissfully so!

This conversation was conveyed to me via telephone. The chat was light-hearted, touching upon Indian cuisine, places of interest in India, the more recent hyped 'attacks on Indians' in Oz, et al. Her Aussie mate asked, "In India, you must be living so dangerously with firing taking place every day, bomb explosions and stuff (whatever 'stuff' means). How do you manage?" To which my friend replied, "Oh! Don't worry. I don't live in the border area. It happens there on everyday basis." Confused, the Aussie mate asked, "What's a border?"

This last question hit me in the eye. I first thought he must be kidding. But on second thought, I realized it was a grave, stark naked question! How are you supposed to explain to an Aussie what a border is? Just a territorial line for delineating enforcement of a State's rule? Could fit a textbook definition, a raison d'etre; but is it all that is attached to real-life meaning of border? What about a multitude of issues, humanitarian distress, conflicts, deaths, diplomacy, tears & hopelessness that is associated with 'border'. As Indians, we can easily relate to this term, albeit in a small measure because almost all of you reading this blog would be from a region far from the border. Still, some amount of appreciation would be expected.

But how do you explain this to a citizen of a continent-nation not sharing border with any other nation? Covered by ocean on all sides, for Australia, borders are nothing more than checkpoints for smuggling, illegal migrants & quarantining goods. How diametrically different from the concept of a border we have! Australia would never come to terms with a hard reality of 'border'. And I pray it never does...