Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Positively Amazing India

India was an amazing place to visit. The people I met with on the street, in shops, and at businesses were all focused on discovering what it was that I needed, asking about me, and trying to please me. I have not been in a country so focused on service. So often we find people consumed with their own needs and dramas. Two weeks in India will help anyone lose sight of their own plight, however important they think they are, and enable them to focus on other's needs. 

I also noticed that when something was said or happened that was not entirely positive, the common reply from the Indian person was to see the situation in a positive light, to find something good about what was said. There is a general sense that "things will work out fine in the end," and that "there's a bright side to every story." This was quite refreshing. For example, someone pointed out that there was a lot of garbage in the streets.  Positive reply: the animals and insects can eat the food nobody wants, and people can use and take the things others no longer need.  While I thought at first, this was a little unrealistic, I then did notice over and over, that animals were eating, and that people did go through the garbage looking for things to use. 

Without getting trapped in the argument about whether or not it is good to have garbage outside in the streets, the main point that I noticed, and which is worthy of praise, is that there is a positive way to look at virtually anything, and the Indian culture seems to embody this admirable trait quite well. 

Another discovery that I found quite fascinating: In India there is another option to "Yes" or "No." When someone speaks to an Indian person, and the person is listening, before they reply, they do a little head bob. I tried to understand this, and asked several people about this. Ultimately I came to the realization that this is a way of saying many things without saying a single word, including;
" maybe yes, maybe no, lets think about this further, as its not so clear-cut."
" I may not agree, but I will agree to go along with it for now, and you will likely appreciate me for my being so gracious"
"that's an interesting point, let me ponder that"
"I wont say something negative, so I will do a little head bob and agree to move forward so we can be friends and have a good experience and in the end you may see things differently"
"I've not seen it that way, but I will try"
"Its interesting that you should say that"

Perhaps I don't fully understand the head-bob, or how an entire culture can be so positive and focused on service, but can say that I now understand that India is not just another developing country. This diverse group of people with its many languages and cultural regions is a treasure of intelligent, hard working and humble people ready to serve and become a part of your endeavor. I look forward to learning more and my next visit.  

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