_Captain’s Log, StarDate 2007.12.04-15.56_
It’s strange how two geographic regions on the same planet can be so different. Different in ideology, culutre, topography, way of life, weather, mindset, demographics… different in so many ways. For me, it was an almost alien experience, and definitely a very educating one. There are things I liked (the fact that there are no crowds and there are wide open spaces), and things I didn’t (the mechanical way of life and the wastage of resources). I can understand now why people from abroad find Indian culture so appealing. It is because we live in chaos, and everything chaotic is beautiful (clouds, for example). Life in Canada is organized and regimented (by Indian standards), and although there are wonderful avenues of entertainment and recreation, everything is too predictable (even all the travel coffee mugs look the same). This is the land of plenty that has not devoured itself.
I believe now more than ever that it is the people who make or break a country (“Institutions exist to serve humans, humans do not exist to serve institutions”). Everybody has access to the same resources; we share the same planet after all. I’m sure that India, being an older nation, was once a land of plenty, maybe plentier. Others plundered, we blundered, and now we’re left scraping the bottom, and asking the world to stop driving cars because we’re choking on the smoke.
Canada is not only a country, it is also a brand. A brand that makes its presence felt on everything from keychains to petrol pumps (or gas stations, if you’re Canadian). It’s a way of life, and more importantly, it’s a way of life that Canadians are proud of. Maybe there is something we Indians can learn from this: instead of working out of the shadows and waiting for the world to wake up and take notice, maybe we should go out there and say – “we are here, this is what we stand for, and we’re proud of it”.
I also read somewhere that in Canada there are more women than men. I’m not sure about that, but what I’m sure about is this: women are treated as equals, in every sphere of life. Indian women, on the other hand, are unfortunately subjected to double-standards. Men who worship goddesses and devis as shakti, the strength and power behind all creation, treat women in their homes with disrespect and women in their workplaces with denigration. And then there are women politicians elevated to demigod status, surrounded by yes-men who I’m sure would have not even once said yes to their wives at home.
The last topic I want to touch upon is a touchy one. I have mixed feelings about how Indians are treated in Canada, and frankly I haven’t had enough time to form a strong opinion about it. There is no open hostility for sure. Professionally, we were treated well and towards the end, we earned ourselves enough respect to be treated as peers. But I do know that there were groups in our organization that harboured a feeling of dislike, which is understandable considering the fact that some of their best friends must have lost their jobs to us. But like I said before, there was no open hostility, nor any jokes being cracked behind our backs (which is something Indians are good at), and our experience was comfortable and peaceable.
There are a lot of other trivial but interesting observations I made. For example, the fact that in corridors, people pass you on the left, because they’re used to driving on the right side of the road 🙂 Like I said, interesting, but trivial.
On the personal front, I took back some interesting experiences with me from this trip. I managed to greatly improve my time management, which in retrospect was completely non-existent (or rather, lacked motivation to exist). I gained some more independence, confidence and the strength to deal with the outcomes of my wrong decisions because they were my own. I made some very interesting friends from all walks of life and hailing from all corners of the globe. I did some things that I always wanted to do, and some things that I never thought I would. I got to spend some time with myself, and with some long-forgotten friends. Professionally, it was one of the most rewarding and enlightening phases of my life. As I look back, I have only one regret – I should have brought back a speeding ticket!! 😉
“Release yourself, it’s a big sky/
Reveal yourself, it’s a big sky/
We love, we leave. We take, we give/
Release yourself, it’s a big sky”
-“Big Sky”, John O’ Callaghan feat. Audrey Gallagher
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Whoever you are, if we haven’t met, we probably never will. Either way, I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I enjoyed spending sleepless nights writing it. I would love to read about your experiences too; please leave me a comment, even if it is to let me know that you think that my view of the world is twisted and insane 😉
Bangalore, 17 Feb 2008.