Thursday, August 8, 2013

Bangalore Rhythm

    It’s August, the monsoons are waning and the weather feels like spring.  It has been two full months since I have returned back to Bangalore from my month-long break in the U.S.  I have come to India on five separate occasions now.  My passport pages are filling up and I finally have a spouse visa – a full five years of access to India as my second home country.  It is so strange how each time I have returned here, I have gone through a roughly two-month time period of culture shock – an intense struggle with living in a foreign country so completely different from my own.  I struggled with depression and anxiety during that time, felt this immense sense of my being out of place, of being alienated from this world.  I would shut myself in, bitch and moan about things, and even pull my American bullshit ethnocentric prejudice by making it a “me against them” situation.  (It’s all textbook symptoms, really).  My personal culture shock was always like a small bout of insanity: everything is relative, nothing makes sense, I am completely lost.  And then something inside me would change.  This shift I could actually feel happening – this blanket of darkness being lifted from me.  And it all no longer seemed so foreign to me, actually it felt like my home away from home.  And what’s this? – I would begin to feel happy again?  The motions of the day that once made me angry and melancholy would suddenly begin to fit my life.  Each time I returned, it got a little easier.  This time, my adjustment took a week, a sort of peace settling over me as I fell back into my rhythm here.  I realized after my quick readjustment, that I had essentially – finally and fully – adapted to my world here.  I have let go of my lifestyle in America, and traded it for a simpler life, that despite its Indian mundanity, brings meaning and understanding to me.  I view life here differently.

    Most people in the “Western world,” American or otherwise, don’t realize that the perception of life and the pace of life, is immensely different in the various countries of the world.  India is one place in particular that has a slower pace of life.  Things appear to happen when they are ready; life moves forward on its own accord, people do nothing to force it.

    Bangalore especially is considered lazy; noticeably more laid-back than other cities in India.  I like to make jokes about how in Bangalore, if you want to give somebody business, you have to wait until it is convenient for them.  Restaurants open and close twice a day – leaving an up to four-hour gap in the middle of the day where people apparently just don’t feel like working.  Being late in getting anywhere in the city is always expected, and no apologies will be given.  Men and women in my community leave for their jobs as late as 10 am.  Mid-day naps are quite common; there is apparently no reason to feel guilty for enjoying life slowly here.  Maybe Bangaloreans are onto something. 

    The laziness factor in this city is perpetuated by the lengthy and frequent power outages that occur most everyday.  When I used to live in a more rural area of Bangalore – J.P. Nagar, power outages plagued me daily.  This time around, I happen to live in an upscale locale, conveniently equipped with two massive back-up generators that retrieve power for its residents in less than a few minutes.  Yet I am continuously reminded of my luxury of a mostly constant power source when I am out in the wild wild world that is Bangalore.  More than three years from my introduction to this city and country, I take the time lag quite well; I can’t allow such things to piss me off too much anymore.  They are a part of life here, unmovable and unchangeable by me.  Patience is the highest of virtues in India, and it is my saving grace in this city. 

     It is in my opinion that all this laziness has perpetuated in me, a more enjoyable approach to life.  In adapting to the experience of a Bangalorean life, I have learned to become aware of and enjoy the little things.  Having my morning tea with a good book as I listen to the city come to life is the most coveted part of my day.  To sit in the sun after days of dreary monsoon clouds, and feel a cool spring breeze has the ability to calm me to my core.  Watching the world move outside my apartment, above it all from my ten stories up, makes me feel like the entirety of India is before me, stirring creativity and rumination.  To live outside of the constant push / pull society that is America has become a blessing.  I have embraced simplicity, and I will admit that it is more beautiful than I ever thought it would be. 

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