25 October, 2011

Musings on Acclimation

"How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live." ~Henry David Thoreau

The Inorbit Mall decorated with festive hanging lanterns.

I'm not used to sharing this much of my life for so many to read, but it's actually been very therapeutic to share my strange, difficult, surprising, interesting, and amazing experiences that have happened since I've been here. And, I try to keep my blog as honest a depiction of what is going on as possible, I won't attempt to gloss over all the challenges, because I've had both wonderful and difficult experiences. I used to think that showing your own difficulties and challenges lessened others' opinion of you, but now I think that it makes you seem more human, because we all have our own struggles we face, and I won't pretend I don't have mine as well, it is more important how we deal with them and to remain optimistic. Actually, I believe India has allowed me to be more honest with myself, although it can still be hard for me to open up to others. And it is exactly these challenges that I believe continually make me a stronger person. India is a very confrontational culture, challenges hit you head on, and you have to deal with them whether you want to or not. Yet, the good has far outweighed the challenges, once I have started to understand this new world that currently surrounds me, I have grown fond of it. Every day I have the opportunity to learn something new. I am continually learning and growing, and asking questions all the time, I love asking questions about anything and everything, gradually becoming acquainted with this country on a deeper and more personal level. I also love wearing kurties and leggings to work, and I love learning Hindi. Traveling here has given me confidence that I am capable of doing things on my own, and it is a very empowering feeling of self-confidence, although I've also had the help and support of many wonderful people I've met here. I've heard that once you can travel to India, you can travel anywhere, and I'd believe it.

I have often found that people have a tendency to devalue that which they are not willing, capable, or don't take the time to understand. Just because things are different, doesn't make them better or worse. We are predisposed to like our own ways the best, to like things how we were raised, but does that mean everyone must live exactly as us? Isn't that a part of what makes the world wonderful? Different cultures, traditions, and lifestyles are what make the world interesting, wouldn't it be boring if we were all the same? One of my favorite parts about India is learning about how it is culturally different. 

When I decided to go to India, I often got these responses: "Wow that's great!" or, "India, huh, are you sure about that?" Sure it took preparation, lots of preparation, it's not a rash decision to be made, and it has taken time to adjust once I came, but I would tell anyone if they are debating whether or not to travel or study abroad, do it! You won't regret it, but you might regret not ever taking the opportunity. I can now admit that on my first day of work when I was being introduced to the marketing and design teams in my office, that I couldn't even understand their names, let alone remember them. But this, too, has become easier over time. And I still do stupid things, like today I accidentally misinterpreted an auto cost of 50 rupees that heard 15 instead of 50, because I thought it was a sharing auto and it wasn't apparently, and the auto driver spoke next to no English, and my Hindi numbers are limited, although this will motivate me to learn more...But, if you're not making mistakes, you're not learning anything new, right?

Learning some basic things has made me feel like a child at times, such as feeling like I am learning how to eat. Since foods, their names, and how they are eaten is different, this has taken practice. Chapati, which is like tortillas in America, are not filled like a burrito and wrapped up. Rather, chapati is eaten torn off in small sections and scooped in curry or chutney, and I've by now got the hang of it. This is kind of how Americans would eat chips and salsa, except you don't tear the chips. Rice is mixed with dhal, a kind of liquid with spices and chopped veggies and oil I believe. Usually the rice is mixed and eaten with your fingers, although some do use a spoon. I still use a spoon for this because that's how I'm accustomed. I have also learned how to order my lunch in Hindi by now. At first I couldn't handle very spicy foods, but as I try more little by little, I am growing very fond of Indian food. American food may even taste kind of bland by the time I go home. The parathas are my favorite thus far, so delicious, but they are by far the best when you eat them fresh and hot! But food is also very heavy since most things are cooked in oil. Someone told me that people didn't eat that much cheese because it was high in fat, but I'm wondering, if everything is cooked in oil what's the difference? I was asking people at work why there isn't very much information listed on nutrition labels, and they said because Indians weren't concerned with that, and if you find out how many calories are in Indian dishes you won't enjoy them! Seems like a good mindset to me. Additionally, people at work are the best food sharers I've ever met.

"The caged bird sings with a fearful trill
Of things unknown but longed for still
And his tune is heard on the distant hill for
The caged bird sings of freedom."
~Maya Angelou

"Laugh at yourself, but don't ever aim your doubt at yourself. Be bold. When you embark for strange places, don't leave any of yourself safely on shore. Have the nerve to go into unexplored territory." ~Alan Alda

P.S. I bought pens here and they said on them, "Made in Germany," and I thought it was ironic, go figure, huh?


  1. Pankaj Trivedi25 October, 2011

    I remember saying that your last blog was the best one, Well, this one has to be the best. Liked the way you look at life. Your attitude will take you places and keep you happy throughout your life. I'm so glad that you're here. God bless u :)

  2. Shruti Mantri25 October, 2011

    I totally agree with Pankaj.. This was certainly a very good read.. Looking for more posts like these :):)

  3. Nice Post.Thanks for Sharing this in your blog.Book your bus tickets to Hyderabad in Paulo Travels