It was a beautiful day today with the sun shining and a nice cool breeze blowing, so Abhi and I went to the park today to enjoy our lunch. While we ate our lunch we began discussing the things we like the most about living in the States. In having this discussion I realized that I haven’t taken the time to appreciate the country that I’m originally from and what I love about it. So here you have it, the 7 things that I love about living in the States. (Seven is a lucky number after all)
Structure and organization. I never realized how much of a role these two things played in my life until I went to India last year. To tell you the truth I think it was the insane traffic that played into this realization. In the States you have lanes of traffic, defined by lines, and lights and stop signs at intersections, which are put in place for the safety of everyone and enforced by laws and regulations.
In India it was a completely different story. Trucks, cars, bikes, rickshaws, autos, people, dogs and cows all shared the road with little regard as to which side of the road they were driving on. I only saw one accident on my entire trip and remarkably their system works (but I honestly have no idea how). The simple difference in traffic led me to realize that I need structure in my life. I need a schedule of how my day will go and I need things organized so I can find things and function properly. Thank you India for teaching me this so I can be more productive :).
Sitting in the park I realized how much this country has embraced individualism (for the most part). We saw intercultural/interracial couples sitting on benches, gay couples walking hand in hand, hair dyed bright pink and blue, piercings of all kinds, preppy style of dress to goth. Literally, the people of this country make it a point to express themselves through their dress, style, actions and words. While it can be overwhelming and sometimes offensive, it really is something that I appreciate. No one really cares what anyone is wearing so go ahead, be yourself!
I’m not saying that Indians are not courteous. They just simply have a different idea of courtesy than what I grew up with. Growing up, and to this day, you still hold doors for people, you say thank you, you say bless you when someone sneezes, you don’t stare and you don’t talk behind people’s back. In India, it’s a rare occasion to have a door held open and the staring happens incessantly. Of course neither of these are done with malicious intent which is why they are tolerable, just different.
On the other hand, in India, if you would end up meeting with an accident loads of people would stop to help you, check to see if you are okay and the situation would be worked out right then and there amongst all of the onlookers and those that stopped to help. In most cases in the States a few people will stop to check if you’re okay but everything is handled by police and other public agencies. So each country has their own version of courtesy, neither of which is better than the other.
In India it’s a rare moment when you don’t hear cars honking, music playing, cows mooing, dogs barking and people carrying on in general (especially during holidays and wedding season). While my current apartment is not quiet either since we are in the middle of the city, I have grown to appreciate the quiet that can come from solitude in rural communities such as the one I grew up in. When Abhi and I came back from India in January I took him back to my hometown with me and taught him how to play in the snow– complete with snowman building and sledding riding. We went to the park in the middle of the day during the middle of the week. We were completely alone in the middle of the woods with my family’s dog standing on top of a snow covered hill looking over a frozen lake with ice fishers in the distance. It’s honestly a memory that will stay with me for some time. Seriously if snow didn’t muffle sound you could have heard a pin drop. It was incredible.
I love space– wide open space outside, space between myself and the next person in line, space to spread out, to stretch and lounge (do I need to continue?) In India it seems as though space is one of the biggest commodities. Huge families live together in a single house, stores are in every space imaginable and food stalls litter the sides of the streets. It has to do with the sheer number of people in the cities within India. However, this is a stark contrast to what I grew up with, 7+ acres of land with woods, horses and camping. Very different indeed. It’s always such a breath of fresh air to leave the city and to experience the space and the green that I’ve grown up with. (But I can always satisfy this with going to the Himalayas- an even more incredible scene)
This is probably pretty obvious, but I have learned to appreciate the fact that I can easily communicate with everyone here. They all speak the same language so I can ask store clerks questions, order my own food and get help if needed. In India, since I am still learning Hindi, my communication is limited. While everyone in the house has gotten significantly better at speaking English it can still be a challenge sometimes.
The States encompass everything I grew up with and everything I know. It is here that I am able to celebrate and uphold traditions that have been in my family since my childhood. I’m used to the food, I’m used to the people, and I’m used to most situations here. It’s what I know. Going to India forces me to leave this comfort zone and travel to something completely foreign to me. But it’s something I accept and go into with an open mind and heart knowing it will only change me for the better.
Whew! Sorry about that. I feel like I’ve been rambling forever. Hopefully these points give you a little bit of insight to both the culture I am engulfed in both in the States and India. What’s the one thing you appreciate the most about your home country?