This is a title that I hope not will come and hit be back. It is said about India that either you love it (and maybe even so much that you stay here) or you hate it. Honestly, I think I might be a little bit different. I don’t easily fall in love. And I do think that I’m too stubborn to let things go into me in such a way that I get to hate it. But I think, or maybe I should rather say hope, that I now have managed to find an “easy” way to live in India. Yes. India is still full of frustrations, but I do feel that the frustrations are fewer and they don’t happen as regularly as before. And since I’m not British, it’s surely nothing like “the Empire strikes back”. It’s maybe more of how even a Norwegian Viking can manage in a place like India 🙂
Let me give you a few examples. My credit card stopped to work a few weeks back. It turned out that the magnetic stripe was damaged. Maybe I had actually used it too much. Ok. It might only be in India that this happen after only one year. BUT; I got a new card almost without any problems. I had to go to the bank to get a new one, and yes, they asked for some copies of some documents. But I didn’t have to give any pictures (like I always used to do before), and the card came to the address mentioned within one week. And I got the pin code at the same day as I got the card. Quite good! And I was even upgraded from a standard ATM-card to a premium card. My like! This morning I renewed my membership in CSK-supporter club. And it worked perfect! Everything done through internet, and my new credit card did it all. No problem at all. My washing machine has had some problems lately, so I needed some service on it. Off course I feared that the person I needed would not come on time, and that he would not even be able to speak English. He promised to be at my place before 10 am. So I said that I would start to call him at 9 am, to check where he was. The first time I called, he said that he would be there before 10.30. Ok. So he was 30 minutes late, but he was actually there at 10.30. And he spoke quite well in English. He told me that the drum inside the machine was damaged and that the whole machine needed to be taken for repair. Even I have seen that it seems like the drum has had some problems, so I fully agreed with him. He promised to be back with the machine on Thursday. As I will be busy on Thursday, I asked him if he could come on Friday instead. Off course I will follow up with him and confirm, but I do think that he actually will be there on Friday.
How is it possible to handle India as a foreigner? I have added a few keywords below that I think is important
Patience – Not really the word that most people will associate with me. But it is really needed. Things here work in its own speed. You can off course sit down and be frustrated. But it wouldn’t help. Off course you can be a bit clever and plan so that you have the extra time, or you can have a plan B. I do always carry a book in the car, so that if someone came late, I can do some reading. It works.
Try to understand – No. I will never fully understand India. And no. I will probably never fully understand the Indian people. But I do my best to try. I have read a number of books and articles and still do that. And I do try to think when I observe something. One of my colleagues told me that people get “high on spirit” and I don’t think about the alcoholic spirit during festivals. How can that be? Try to think through it and reflect a bit about it.
Don’t expect others to understand you – A Norwegian will always, or at least quite often, think different than an Indian. I’m the one who is just one in a crowd. The people around me would probably not have any incentive to try to understand me the same way I will have to try to understand them.
Ask – Maybe the most important point here. I have had a number of discussions with a number of Indians. I have asked about things that I don’t think I should share with others. But if you really show a proper interest when you talk with people, they will answer your questions. And I think that the old cliché “there are no stupid questions, only stupid answers” still apply.
Last year I showed the adaption ladder in a blog post. I’m not sure if I have reached the final stage here, but I’m very sure that I feel very comfortable about the whole situation here now. I also wrote a post about how local a foreigner should try to be in another country. That question I think I will leave to others to answer. But paying attention to things around you is surely important, and only by doing that you can understand what really happen around and learn more about your new home place.
Talk to you soon