Since I first moved to the US, my frequency of trips back to India have reduced in frequency and in duration. Here I record the 5 key observations from my most recent trip. I do sometimes wonder if India has always been this and it is only my perception that changes every time I visit my homeland.
- Social network is very powerful — There was a joke few years about someone in US, who, during an actual emergency, posted on FB before they called 911. In India, even sans FB and sans sophisticated tools, people network is the strongest. Whether someone had a flat tire, or need to have their child/ren watched for a few hours, had a family member pass out on the floor or had a financial crisis in the family, they would call a relative, friend or neighbor before they called a car mechanic or a bank or a babysitter or a hospital. It takes the goodwill of about 50 people to keep a simple family running, but 50 people they have. And more. Often, they have another 500 people they have in the reserves.
- Chaos is okay — There is chaos everywhere. I take most offense when people don’t stand in lines (single file, that too) and when I see the road (in)discipline. But, for the most part, people aren’t dying and gross injustices aren’t committed. Its irritating for sure. Within the chaos, there is an order (or am I imagining).
- Very child-friendly — We define child-friendliness of a place based on availability of things such as child friendly seats, child friendly menus, child friendly programming, child friendly bathrooms, child friendly this and that. But India has child-friendly people. Everyone wants to help. At least everyone empathizes. I went to couple of restaurants, where the employees minded my child the whole time I was eating there.
- We all censor — I have kids. In the US, when I see violence / bloodshed or hear profanity, I turn off the TV. But it’s okay to watch two people engaged in acts of love. In India, its the opposite. Everyone censors — just different things.
- Most of all — Technology is really enabling everyone. Smart phones and other technologies are permeating through every class of society — once exclusive to the affluent. WhatsApp, Uber, Facebook and Ola are revolutionizing everything. Along with banking, utilities and retail — which are heavily getting appified.