Well, I'll be heading back now. It's been a good trip. As I wrap things up on my longest stay here yet, I think about the culture differences between the US and India. Of course there are things I like and don't like – but what can I say? I'm an American.
So let's get the obvious out of the way… this is a third world country. Although the big cities are modernized, it is what it is. That's a big difference right there. Here we go for the dislikes:
- I prefer toilet paper over whatever you're supposed to do with the hose/bucket of water. This reminds me of the movie "Demolition Man" where they refer to the "three seashells". I don't want to know what it's for, so don't even explain it to me.
- My favorite brands of items are not all available in stores. Let's face it, there are no Wal-Marts here but that's not the end of the world. You make do.
- Ok, we NEED a Starbucks here. Heck, I can probably keep the place in business alone with all the Starbucks coffee I drink.
- There's a lack of municipal services. So there's trash about everywhere and there's no good/rain sewer system either, so water hangs around for a while after it rains. I think this is a health concern. From what I understand, this is just an effect of how the government here works. It's a bit corrupt from what I've picked up, so that's unfortunate. The people here suffer because of that.
- TV stations play the same 5 commercials for an hour. That's really annoying. For me, that does not want me like their product more.
- The driving. Wow. I can't even begin to talk about this.
The things I like:
- The coolest thing is how everyone is more dressed up here. Even the poorer women are wearing colorful saris, jewelery and even do up their hair and stuff. They care more about their appearance it seems even though we have the influence of Hollywood pounding us all the time. Maybe I notice this more because I live in the Midwest… I mean, you travel to California and see how people care just a bit more about their appearance. It's not that we all have to look like movie stars – that's not right, but if you look your best, it affects other areas of your life and you do better in those other areas.
- There's always someone around. This is hard for me to get used to, but I found that it's actually something I like. So for instance, parking your car… ok, space is limited so there are guys that basically work in parking lots helping you park your car for tips. They have their wistles and even look "official" being in a nice uniform. So even though there's a lack of municipal services, there are a lot more people around to do things. That's how it works here and that's pretty cool.
- The head nod/bobble thing. Ok, we have our head do movements for yes and no. Well, they add a third one, which is sort of a combination of the two – you tilt your head from side to side and very often add a long blink of your eyes to it for effect. This gesture kind of means "ok" or that you understand. At first I thought they were saying no, so I kept repeating stuff and they just kept nodding that way and we didn't get anywhere (this was years ago actually).
- The British influence here is pretty cool. I'm sure they're not fond of all the influence the Brits have had – since they're renaming their cities to how they used to be called, but it's cool. Things are more civilized where you wouldn't expect it, which I think goes along with the point above about dressing.
- Everyone is nice. People are generally very friendly here and they're also helpful. You feel safe for sure. I'm sure there are bad parts, but I feel much safer here than in let's say, Chicago.
Well, that's it for now. I may add a few things to this, so check back on this post in the next few days.
It's been a good trip even though I got very sick twice – that was not fun at all… I was praying for God to take me right then. I'm ready to go home and I can't wait to start a good summer in the States. I miss everyone there but I'll also miss leaving here.