It’s been a minute since I posted a piece. Nevertheless I am here! At home and alive. That’s all that really matters in this bizarre time we’re living through, right?!
The only line of defense I can give you is moving continents! That stuff trips you up big time. Sure, it’s an opportunity to reinvent yourself. But before you do that, there is this daunting process of assimilation!
I’ve done this before. I’ve busted my booty moving suitcases and rewired my brain several times. YET something about this move has been overly dramatic! Lockdown hit the second I landed. We were all cooped up in the house for months on end (read here for more insight). And even though things are slowly trending toward normalcy, there is still a brewing platter of covid strains served to the 1.4 Bn of us…So as you can tell, this has been quite the homecoming for me!
While this is “home”, I am not the same person I used to be when I left. I’m noticing things that I didn’t used to before. I’m also going through an intercontinental transition at the comfort of my couch- Not being able to step out to soak in the city has been rather strange!
But as I go through this transition I wanted to write it down- might as well rope you into a piece of my mind…
- The privilege problem
The definition of “privilege” in our country is KILOMETERS apart from the west’s definition. And I seem to realize it more in these current circumstances.
Simple things like having a balcony or terrace to step out to breathe “fresh air” is a privilege. Having space to walk around is a privilege. Being able to socially- distantly stay at home without worrying about supplying food to your family is a privilege.
I know a part of the assimilation process is to absorb information around you and make peace with it. But it’s the weight of this contrasted reality that I am living in that makes the move more unsettling. Nothing SCREAMS privilege to me than comparing my past life in the west to the one I live now. I cringe, at times, thinking about all my complaints, which are quite honestly luxuries here.
However, a part of me believes that me recognizing the privilege problem is a step in the right direction. Its made it sweeter to appreciate every bit of “luxury” I have access to in this part of the world. I now feel more grateful and attuned to every activity than unconsciously going through the motions like I did before.
2. The Culture Quotient
Ahh the Indian Culture! Radiant as ever and at its core — a community based affair!
I used to tell people how much I missed that community aspect of my culture when living abroad. Getting fed by my parents (as they continue commenting on how scrawny I look) and getting all the love from the people I adore seemed like the perfect dream!
What I didn’t anticipate is how the cultural dynamics are at play in every situation we are a part of. As a fully grown adult, I see it more clearly than ever. Allow me dumb it down for you: No decision can be made without inadvertently factoring the weight of each “close person’s (a hundred of them BTW) opinion!
You might say. “Oh come on, don’t give a crap about what the world thinks- DO YOU SISTER!”… I wish… but it’s not that easy when grappling with the “we” over “I” concept here. People are incredibly generous, but people also talk. That’s exactly what keeps the Indian culture glowing even centuries later!
The mountainous task for me has been to figure out a mechanism that incorporates the individualistic ideologies I developed in the west as I respect and foster the culture quotients in the east- I’ll let you know if I keep sane while I am at it!
3. Networking Etiquette
This is a no brainer. Every country has its own distinctive style of communication and India is no less. A rule of thumb to survive here is 1. Your referral should come from a trust worthy resource, otherwise you are no good and 2. Remain connected to someone via WhatsApp (trust me on this!).
Everything they told you about harnessing the power of LinkedIn to make connections does not apply here. I even had a connection tell me that it’s too much of a commitment from their end to assist someone new that they don’t “trust”! (So tell me how is a 20 something going to grow in their lives?!). And consider your informational incomplete if they do not ask you the “Where do you see yourself in 5 years?” question!
As I try to crack the networking system in India; a hot tip from my dad is to talk yourself up to every professional you get intro’d to. Apparently that’s one way to get them to hear your story and up that trust ante!
4. Amalgamation of perspectives
1.4 BILLION PEOPLE = 1.4 BILLION PERSPECTIVES, spread across the social hierarchy chart. Coming home has been a mix of overwhelming + delightful + colorful thanks to all the perspectives I have gotten a taste of. I can assure you I did not have this amplitude of thought until now!
Every perspective has either kept me in check or humbled me more. Within the limited interactions I’ve had since returning, my mind is blown at how fragmented my thinking was until now. I was swept up in the rat race, living in a bubble with all the favorable conditions! I was blissfully ignorant about the real problems in life.
Now I get to unlearn and relearn. I have a chance at listening and factoring perspectives I didn’t think of before. Its the immediate result when you face diversity of thought staring directly at your face.
So where is my head at now?
Transitions aren’t rosy. That I can assure you. Regardless of the times I’ve moved, I’ve come to terms with the fact that getting comfortable with the uncomfortable takes time and patience (which isn’t one of my greatest strengths!). I know by the end of this I’ll find the confidence, but until then, it is a process of taking one day at a time- something I am learning to remind myself everyday.
The power of compounding opportunities has continuously helped me keep perspective that there is a great life ahead. A life rich with family, friends, ongoing learning and constant cultural experiences- that’s all ya need in one life. Its granted me this incredible opportunity to bust my booty again and draft an entirely new chapter in my life book… before I run away to the next adventure, of course! (let’s give my parents peace that I’ll be staying put — for a hot second! ;) )