Friday, June 5, 2015

Cross Cultural Collaboration: Life in India as Told by Someone Who has Never Been There

The lovely Aria over at Girl In A Whimsical Land and I decided to do a post collab awhile back, and being the brilliant person that she is, she came up with a fabulous idea for it. You see, Aria is from India, whereas I live in the USA, so we thought it would be an interesting experiment to share what we think life is like in each other's countries. There is a second part to this collaboration coming up soon where we will both respond to each other's posts with what life is actually like in our respective countries.

For those of you coming from Aria's blog, I'm terribly sorry my post is up so much later. The time difference did not really occur to me, so I was not ready with mine when she posted hers. I'll do better with part 2!

As excited as I am, I am also a bit nervous, so please know I mean no offense if I get anything wrong (which I'm sure I will). The idea really was to show how stereotypes operate and to try to break some of those down, so please forgive me if I'm way off!

When I first started brainstorming for this I realized that there is a big difference between knowing cultural facts about a place and knowing what life in that place is like. I can spout off a few random facts about India or Indian history, but understanding what life is like for someone living in that country is just entirely different I think. Aria joked with me that her ideas about the US come exclusively from movies and television, but I haven't seen many movies based in India, let alone with Indian leads or that focus on Indian culture. Basically what I tried to do is imagine what I would be expecting if I were to hop on a plane and move to India tomorrow.

1. Summer All the Freaking Time

The first thing I would do if I was moving to India is sell all my winter clothes because I would not need those sweaters taking up suitcase space. I feel like to some extent this might depend on where exactly in India you live, but I'm pretty sure it is pretty warm on a regular basis across the board. I remember Aria telling me she's never seen snow before, so at the very least I could ditch my snow boots!

 2. Travel in Groups

As a woman, I do not think I'd be super ecstatic about going anywhere by myself, given all the horror stories that have been on the news in recent years. I do know that American news media likes to overplay rape stories from other countries because people like to point and say "look it could be so much worse you're so lucky" and pretend that we don't have a rape culture in this country (spoiler alert: yeah, we do), but nonetheless there has been some scary stuff going on, so I'd probably be dragging my boyfriend around like a body guard. 

3. Spicy Food

Okay I'm super embarrassed, but pretty much all I know about Indian food is that it includes a lot of curry. And I only know that because my Grandma has Alzheimer's and there are scientists that think something in curry might help fight Alzheimer's because India has next to no Alzheimer's patients in the entire country. Fun fact. I'm also pretty sure rice is involved a lot. Right? I'm pretty sure that's right.

I'm also pretty sure India has open markets as opposed to the giant supermarkets we have here. That would be pretty cool. I wish we had more of those here. I bet it really cuts down the prices on food, because you don't have to pay for all the middlemen and for shipping and everything like that. At the same time, I feel like they would be kinda stressful. I might have to sacrifice my first born for a bag of cherries, but at least I don't have five people yelling at me to buy their cherries. And haggling is the worst. I had to do it in Turkey. I'm not good at it.

4. Hella Crowded. 

I'm pretty sure that trying to get around the cities on a daily basis, like for work or school, would drive me up the wall, because there are just so many people! I would probably hide inside for days because my anxiety would not be able to deal with that. This would probably be another draw back to the open air markets, but then again Meijer can get pretty crazy too I guess.

5. Public Transportation for Days

This one I'm less sure about, but I thought I'd read that it is fairly easy to get around India on the cheap using public transportation. I don't know if that means buses, or trains, or what, but if that is true that would be a major plus for me because public transport in the US is basically nonexistent. I would love to be able to travel around the country pretty easily without the added stress of having to rent a car or something like that. Especially considering India has some of the most beautiful locations in the world to visit. My camera would run out of memory on a daily basis if I got the chance to travel around there.

6. Most Beautiful Traditional Dress in the Entire Freaking World

I do not know how prevalent traditional Indian dress is today, if most people still wear it or if it is a dying tradition like chopsticks in Japan, but oh my gosh saris are the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I have honestly been known to just Google "Indian Weddings" because the pictures are absolutely gorgeous. With the wedding saris and the henna and the jewelry, oh my gosh nothing tops that. Google it an tell me you've seen something more beautiful than an Indian bride, just try it.

7. Zero Social Mobility

This is so where I'm gonna get in trouble if I'm wrong. Like I know this is still a thing, but I guess I don't know if it is still prevalent across the entire country? But at least in the more rural parts of the country I would assume, the caste system makes it impossible for people to really improve their social/class standing. If I remember correctly it links to the Hindu belief in reincarnation, so people believe that their social standing in this life is determine by their behavior in their past life, so if they are born impoverished they must stay impoverished as a punishment for poor behavior in their previous life, and by living a good life you can improve your standing in your next life. Right? That is one thing that is really frustrating. It is sad to me that your religion would say you deserve an impoverished life and you can do nothing to change that.

As a random, I also know that people in India usually have two names, a public name and a pet name that only their family and close friends use. Or at least I know that was an Indian tradition, but again I don't know if it is still prevalent. I read The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri, so that is what I'm going off of.

And there you have it! That is me imagining what life in India would be like. I hope I'm kinda close on most of it at least. I am super excited to pop over and read Aria's post (which you can find here!) and see what she thinks life is like on my side of the pond. I hope you'll come back and read both of our posts on what life is really like in our countries and to see how well we did!

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