When I was growing up, I always had both Christian and Muslim neighbours and friends. We knew when Ramzan started, when Id was being celebrated, we knew all about midnight mass and Ash Wednesday. My Muslim neighbour would often sent cut fruit to be stored in our fridge, and send some kheer after sunset. Christmas was always at a friend’s house — they had a large family, and the celebrations seemed straight out of a novel! Religion seemed rather obvious and normal at that time, and sometimes I wondered what the fuss was all about when song after patriotic song insisted on including “Hindu, Muslim, Sikh, Isaai”.
Cut to my present world. Lil D has only one Christian friend that I know of, and she personally knows no Muslims. Both at school and at home, she is not exposed to their world. True, she learns about Islam, churches, and the Guru Granth Sahib. But (I feel), it’s all as unreal to her as learning about the Tundra was to us. We live in a highly cosmopolitan area of Bangalore, and yet, we don’t appear to have the famed religious diversity in our neighbourhood. Either people are becoming more homogenous, and so we are unable to distinguish one from the other (which is relatively more positive), or we are becoming segregated, which is quite awful.
I am glad though that we are in India, where we see and interact with such a huge variety of people on a daily basis, that I sincerely hope she will always be able to treat everyone first and foremost as a human.