As the post title suggests, it’s been a month away from many things – home, and for the first time away from India. Also my first full month in a foreign country.
So, what has changed in a month?
Many. I won’t focus on personal changes, as to how I am doing now, or people I might be missing. I can guarantee that I don’t feel any melodramatic about being away from India. This post is more on how my perception has changed.
Having been in one place, in the same culture, and being in an environment that has brought me up for the entirety of my life hitherto I think has made me miss the obvious. Like the famous analogy – the fish not knowing the existence of water. The first month has been adequate for me to identify these subtleties that I was not conscious about.
The differences that thrive in India, and why our diversity in every way is so unique to us, and why we should seek pride in the differences, and not in the commonalities, are some of the aspects I am seeing in new light.
The linguistic diversity we have in India, for instance seems very different to me now. Coming to a foreign land here, I can make sounds of the languages when I try to read them. Yes, Swedish, or German, or any European language that has the alphabet similar to English. (I said read, not pronounce or understand :))
Whereas, when I travel in India, there is so much more difficulty, for, the scripts of most Indian languages are so disconnected that even character recognition is almost impossible.
And one other issue in India, that seems to gain more importance in my observation is the lag in internal communication. Be it the government machinery, or people, there has never been a common mode of instruction, or communication. In endorsing English as the bridge, apart from losing values vested in our languages we have also alienated a population that does not know English, like the majority of our villages.
Lack of communication might not be the only reason, but it is a factor. Any other country, under the ambit of a single constitution does not face the linguistic problem to the scale of India. Even the vast China has not more than 4-5 languages that the institutions need to work in. Maybe this evaluation of mine is trivial, but this observation I was never able to make while within India. It somewhere clogs the smooth functioning of the society is my claim.
Nuances of our culture like eating with hand, high spice consumption, and emphasis on food are the things noted as strange by people from outside India. Of course, these are aspects that I take pride in – yes, even eating with hands. The joy is quite different.
Of course, the tropical climate of India, and the moderate ambience of Bangalore. When I first saw people here crave for the Sun, it seemed unnatural to me. After a month, now I look for sunny spots, where the Sun is not behind the clouds and savour it!
These apart, to be able to observe a society that is certainly advanced when compared to India in many ways, I can anticipate how it might be for us down the line. Maybe in a seperate post I will write about my observations specific to the society here.