dirtbag (n,v) A person who is committed to a given (usually extreme) lifestyle to the point of abandoning employment and other societal norms in order to pursue said lifestyle. Dirtbags can be distinguished from hippies by the fact that dirtbags have a specific reason for their living communaly and generally non-hygenically; dirtbags are seeking to spend all of their moments pursuing their lifestyle.
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
Awkward arrivals and misconceptions
After a harrowing journey through Indian traffic (traffic
laws and speed limits: there are none), I arrived at the home of Mr.G.
Rajender Reddyand his wife. One of the oddest, experiences in the world (at least for
me) is showing up to someone’s home in the night, halfway across the world, not
really understanding what they are saying even though its supposed to be in
your language, and telling them what you want for dinner (they eat around 9 or
10 here). After a list of foods I didn’t recognize, I settled on bread. My host
mom made tea, and it was the best tea I had ever tasted. Something about
drinking tea bridges social gaps and calms people down. It was spicy and
creamy, much better than when I have ever made chai. In Hyderabad, tea means
chai. Chai is everywhere, for all occasions. We drink it three or four times a day. It’s the
best. My host family and I stared awkwardly at each other, me feeling like an
intruder on their life, them probably knowing me nodding my head that I
understand was a complete lie. The subsequent days have been less awkward, and
they are wonderful, kind people. We sit and talk in the evenings, and they say “this
is the first time since ’86 we have not had kids in the home.” Maybe this is
why they wanted to host a student.
This is not the India I had preconceived in my mind. It is
not the India I have seen portrayed in movies or National Geographic. Without
even realizing it, I had created a picture of what I thought my host family and
their house would be like. I think I pictured us in a tiny house on a busy
crowded dirty street, where children played with stray dogs, sharing walls with
the neighbors, sleeping on mats on the floor, eating criss cross on the floor,
with a bucket for a shower. That is an exaggeration, but I had created a really
awful picture collage of documentary shots of the crowded streets of Delhi,
starving children, comments from people “be careful, you know India is DIRTY”.
I had also been to a “developing country” before, so I thought I was prepared, someone
a country halfway across the world with completely different people would be
similar to it. Here is what my house actually looks like:
My room (four times the size of my room at PLU)
The marble staircase
Yes, my notions were awful, and I am realizing India is so
diverse. Some of the pictures in my head do exist, people are poor, but it is
an incredibly diverse country. Not everyone lives in shacks in a slum. The India
I had pictured in my head was exciting, but not diverse. I pictured a
homogenous mass of people, all speaking Hindi. India has its diverse religions,
diverse music, art, dance, food, everything, because the people themselves are
diverse. Our program director, Kavitha, was explaining to us a brief history of
India. “India is a union of states” is the first line of their constitution,
the longest constitution in the world. She explained to us this is because India
is so diverse, and the most important thing to them is to recognize that
diversity (union of states) and create a constitution that works for everyone.
She told us that diversity is like putting a little chili pepper in a curry- it
makes it full flavored, gives it personality, makes it different and
interesting. The people of India are from so many different backgrounds,
cultures, religions, languages, and that is one of the things that make India
so special. No person I have met looks alike, talks alike, or dresses alike.
Obviously I should have realized that humans are humans. Arriving here has been
a lesson in humility and a correction of my misconceptions, and an introduction to some amazing people.