When you land in India, the first thing that may strike you is the surrounding chaos. In my case, I was so overwhelmed and wasn’t sure how long I would be able to take it.
If you come from a country or culture where law and order are respected, rules are followed, and zero tolerance for misbehavior, it may be hard to accept the way things are done in India.
India will help you come to terms with things you may not understand. Trying to accept them may be more comfortable as we can’t control what happens in our surroundings. Generally, this applies to everything, no matter where you live or what the circumstance may be. Learning to recognize our emotions so it won’t affect us nor disturb our peace takes time. However, what we can control is our response to the things happening around us.
With time, you will be surprised by the opportunities you will find in this land.
Living in India has taught me to be more patient. I practice a breathing exercise to help reduce the level of stress or rage at some things that used to disturbed me. Now I see them as a regular thing, and I nod my head and say: “Acha Theek hai “its okay.”
One must understand, this is an ancient culture, steeped in its traditions and ways of doing things, that are very different from the west. Time has a different meaning here. It teaches us to take things more lightly. It’s the way to go when living in India. No doubt.
If you have been living in India for a few months, surely you have realized there is no respect for social distance nor personal space as it’s continuously invaded. I’m not sure if the term exists.
We live with a worldwide pandemic, and I worry too, but I don’t lose sleep over it. I hope it will help this society understand the importance of social distancing and personal space for our safety and theirs. Although when I see pictures like this:
It makes me wonder, will I ever understand India?
Indians are not used to queues, and it may mean nothing to them. Therefore respecting the right of way or your turn, etc.. It merely doesn’t exist.
What matters is what’s in front of them and how they take an opportunity even if that means invading your personal space—living the moment, I guess. Solving the matter at hand in the fastest way possible so they can carry on their day is pretty much how things flow.
To give you a small example, when standing in a queue at the airport to go through security, you may have experienced someone jumping the queue. It used to drive me bananas. If you address them, it’s common to see them nod their head in a yes/no answer and act surprised.
If it gets on your nerves, point to the end of the queue and get your right of way with a smile. Many locals are gentle in response, and they may not go to the end of the line, but they will acknowledge your frustration… hopefully.
In my experience, I was easily annoyed and always struggled to demand my right of way or turn with locals. Now, I point them in the right direction most of the time they will follow your instruction with a smile.
I believe it’s a culture of instinct, or perhaps it’s a survival mechanism in a society stripped of their fundamental rights for hundreds of years. India has fought for its independence, yet it still needs to push harder to educate its people, especially the less privileged.
To be honest, if you live in India long enough, you’ll learn how things flow, and chances are you will end up picking up a few local habits. Living in India for a few years or months will make you behave like a local, mastering the head shake and a lot of the manners.
After all, we are all human beings, and it’s all basic survival.
Like the famous saying: “When in Rome do as the Romans do,” It doesn’t make it right, but it’s a way of life.
In time, you will learn not to take things personally and live happily in India or realize this is not the place for you.