Happiness, India style

By Isheeta Sanghi

Sunrise at India gateIt has now been about four years since the move to India, and I think I have finally been through all the stages that one needs to experience to accept moving to a new place.

No one will tell you this but the thing is, you will never be able to accept it one hundred percent- because it is so different, and the reality is no matter how much you try, you can not change your past, who you are and where you have come from. That said, you do the best you can do, and as long as that is good enough for you – it does not matter what any one else thinks.

“Here in India, you try to change the system, and the system changes you,” one of the most powerful dialogues in Rang De Basanti — the reality of living in India is that you can not change the system, because if you try you will actually go mad.

For instance, nothing is centralized in India; not even banks. And the best way to save yourself a lot of stress and anguish is to remember – everything is a surprise in India! When you walk into one branch of a bank don’t take for granted that they will be able to give you the same information/services as your “local” branch. In fact, trying to get new notes at a bank? Don’t expect the teller to have them. Why? I really have no idea, but if you can tell me, I’d be forever grateful.

Another thing, do not be fooled into believing that people will salute to you as you enter hotels, or buildings these days. Those days are gone! A friend of mine had parked his car at a high end luxury hotel in Bangalore, and when the valet brought his car to him, he realized something had been stolen from the car. At that time the management could only offer their condolences. A few weeks later he went to the same hotel again, and as the valet stepped into the car, my friend simply asked him to be careful as he had had a bad experience last time. The valet replied by saying that he could park his own car, that he parked Mercedes Benz and other ‘high end’ cars all day long.
Shocking huh?

India is not perfect, but you have to find your own strength and weed out the negative, irritating, annoying things and try hard to look at the really great things about living here because no one else but you can do that.

Make a list of the things that make you happy in India – maybe it’s the winter in Delhi when you can look out the window from your apartment on the 20th floor and not see anything but this beautiful thick white fog, it could be the monsoons in Mumbai when you can have a nice hot cup of chai and fresh pakoras while watching the rain come down on your windowsill.

Maybe it’s the one day when you are sitting in your car and at a traffic light you see kids playing on the street wearing nothing but rags and these wonderful, warm infectious smiles, making you realize that there are so many things that you have right now in your life worth smiling for, making you forget about all of your problems, all of the things you have to do, and all the things you want to do.

It could even be something as small as chatting with a friend on g-mail – remembering old times or planning new adventures — maybe even seeing your cleaning lady come to work smiling. Whatever it is that makes you happy realize that it is yours, and no one can take that away from you. This New Year I challenge you to make yourself as happy as you want to be.

Picture by Koshyk under Creative Commons attribution license

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