How is the US so different from India? One of the first things that strikes a first time migrant is how seamlessly life transitions from one place to another within the country. Whether one shifts cities or travels a lot, the favorite burgers / donuts / coffee / steak is always there, in fact everywhere. Supermarkets work in exactly the same way, stock almost the same product range and staff greets and deals with the same words everywhere! Wow. Cut to India.
I was in Mumbai recently for an extended work cum holiday. Just about everything is so different from Delhi. The street food, the people, the choice of words, their worries and also how and where they find their comforts. I lived in Kerala (Trivandrum) for some months a few years back: huge difference in dynamics for someone coming from Delhi. Rearranging one’s life requires a shift in the core compass of behavior, habits and interactions. That’s the variety that outsiders are fascinated with.
Seriously, do we really need the extent of physical movement in the name of globalization / standardization / progress that we are running towards at blinding pace? Because when cultures mix, the local dilutes. A migrant brings a way of life and thinking that’s fascinating in parts but which also plants the seeds of doubt about the prevailing. When the movie in the theatre of life is the same for all, the worst is the standardization of aspirations. The unique abilities have to now pass the test of standard marketability. Core strengths suddenly seem a weakness when the framework of evaluation changes against a global backdrop. What set me thinking was a strange argument on return from Mumbai. At home over the weekend, I was telling our domestic help how in Mumbai almost all working people left the keys of their homes behind and the part time domestic helps would come in the owners’ absence, finish the work, lock the house and leave the keys where they got it from. My help in Delhi smirked – ‘Oh, I’m sure they don’t have help from Delhi yet else their houses would have been cleaned up by now.’ It just struck me that exchange of ideas we do need, benefiting from each other’s expertise we definitely need and standardization of commodities is helpful but Cultures? Leave them untouched pls. And decades of increasing migration has shown us 2 things – one – people don’t change easily (historians trace our innate natures to our circumstances thousands of years back) and two – numbers dictate culture. Why can’t we reorganize our plans to take progress to people than having them shift in search of it? If we could make a case for achievement for as anyone is, wherever they are and the exclusive value they bring, the search for fulfillment may not always then mean a physical wandering. I don’t think it’s difficult to plant a Bodhi Tree everywhere.