April 23rd, 2013
Bikes Fixed: 93
Bikes/Day Avg: 1.19
Following a request, I’ve decided to write a post about Indians. I’ve written a lot about India, but during my time hear, I have also noticed some common themes among the people that reside here.
(side note: Every time I talk about Native Americans, I start to say “Indians,” but then stop and correct myself. For those of you unfamiliar with American history, when Chris Columbus sailed over from Europe, he thought he had rounded the world and landed in India. We still colloquially call Native Americans “Indians.” It’s a compliment?)
4. You’re persistent.
Would I like some roti? – No, thanks. I’m full! You’ve done a great job feeding me.
Okay, how about some dal then? – Nope. No, that’s okay. I really can’t handle any more food.
Maybe you’d like some sabje? – Honestly… you spoil me.
Okay well, what can I pass you? – I’m good, thank you.
Oh, well, alright.
You’re sure you don’t want any dal?
Ah, India… land of hospitality. You will never go hungry here. India, your hosts offer me food until I’m tired of saying no, and have to wave my hand instead. Your beggars ask me for money for a good five minutes before trying someone else. Your drivers ask person after person if they’d like a ride, never moving from that just-barely in-the-way spot at the exit from the metro station.
You never give up, do you?
3. You’re brave.
Let’s be straight with each other. It takes guts to ask for money. I mean, I know that the paradigm is a little different here. Okay, a lot different. But let me tell you, I couldn’t run around asking people for money all day.
I did try it a few times. Fundraising for Relay for Life… fundraising for 90:90, even. Once you get started, it’s not so bad. But in the US, all you have to do is ring a doorbell. Here, someone asking for money follows you around and grab your arms and say things intended to make you feel bad about yourself. All day, every day. That’s not something everyone can do.
That’s just one example though. You’re also not afraid to put foreigners on scooters and drive them around town all day. You’re not afraid to shout out prices to passersby or to keep going lower. You’re not afraid to stare.
You’re not afraid to cross a busy highway, or drive on the wrong side of the road, or drive without lanes.You’re not afraid of the man (granted, the police don’t have as much of a presence here as they do in other places). The list goes on.
And when I reach #1, you’ll get even braver.
2. You’re straightforward.
Except for the swindlers (say, that rickshaw driver who took you on a 3km detour because there was “construction.” Or even better, the taxi driver who said that rickshaws were on strike today), I find most Indians to be pretty straightforward. If you have something to say, you say it. If you’ve got a question to ask, you ask it.
Let me be straight with you. This is AWESOME. If I moved here, this would arguably be my number one reason for doing so. There are too many people in the United States who skirt around major issues or don’t ask the right questions, or don’t want to answer the right questions. Even worse, they’d rather make up stuff to fill in the blanks for the questions they don’t ask, or to explain things they don’t want to believe.
I know there’s some politics here too, but for the most part, you guys are straight up. You don’t spend time practicing how to dodge a question. When you argue, you use facts, not tactics. It’s the way conversation was meant to be, and believe me when I say there are too many people who can’t stay true to that.
1. You know what you want and you’re going for it.
India, there aren’t a lot of people who know what they want out of life. There are even fewer who have the guts to go for it. Or the persistence. Or the bravery (sound like #3 and #4? Thought so). I know too many people in the States who don’t know why they have the major they have, or the job they have, or who want to change something about their lives… but don’t. It’s estimated, in fact, that 80% of Americans don’t like their jobs (source: Deloitte Shift Index).
On the flip side, 80% of Indians are like, “Yup, pretty sure this is what I want to be doing with my life.” I have met some amazing people during my time here. Entrepreneurs. Mountaineering guides. Students. Teachers. Bike Mechanics. You aren’t amazing because you’re doing amazing stuff. You’re amazing because you want to be doing it. It may sound obvious to you, but there are too many people out there who don’t realize the difference between want and… uh… I’m not sure actually why you would do something you don’t want to do with your life.
Even if you started down the wrong path, someone would be straight with you (sound like #2? Uh-huh) and you’d shape up.
Hang on to that.