Journalists in South Asia are justifiably obsessed with the tumultuous relationship between India and Pakistan. And, on the eve of foreign secretary talks between the two countries, our media's focus was especially sharp. But surprisingly, at a gathering of people in their early thirties on the same night, I picked up a sense of complete indifference to the talks.
This was a mostly well-educated group of people, global citizens really, who feel as much at home in New Delhi as they might in New York. One of them told me in quite a bored tone, ‘These talks happen every few months, and there's this huge buildup of expectations. Nothing has changed for 60 years. What's going to change now? I'd be interested if something game-changing was to happen, not the same dithering and posturing both countries do.’ Another pitched in to say, ‘There is a sense of fatigue with this. We know it will go on like this. I really feel India has bigger problems to tackle than Pakistan.’
And more than a couple at the get-together had little idea the talks were even taking place, saying post-work TV watching had been limited to the exciting FIFA World Cup in South Africa.
There clearly weren’t any feelings of indignation, rage and anger at Pakistan either; no strong statements that berated the government for talking to Pakistan, despite the country doing little to assist India in getting to those behind the Mumbai terror attacks.
Things were tenser, in fact, during an edge-of-your-seat, exciting finish to the mother of all sporting battles, an India vs. Pakistan cricket match last weekend, which I recently watched on a large screen at a crowded restaurant in south Delhi. Does this indifference indicate certain insularity for our urban and upwardly mobile? Or is it a welcome revelation?
The India-Pakistan relationship could surely do with a little less passion.