There is a magic about India with the power to suck in anyone able to look past the country’s sometimes rough exterior. I went with a willing, open mind, and the magic pulled me in faster than I could realize.
Before my second week ended, I had already put my homesickness aside and fully immersed myself into exploring the culture that seemed as foreign to me as I was to it. I came to love India, so much that a large part of me really didn't want to leave.
Indians are a strong people with an ability to smile through the grit of the harshest poverty. They are warm, kindhearted and giving. And the second a famous Hindi song plays over a loudspeaker, even the most straight-faced man is sure to pause whatever he is doing and dance like no one is watching.
Every day in India posed a new opportunity for learning. To be frank, I learned more in five months there than I could have learned in five years at any university back home. India taught me to stay humble and always be thankful for what I have because I have seen with my own eyes the extent to which my life could be worse.
Living in India made me realize that happiness cannot be found in any amount of money, no matter how large or powerful the quantity. And most importantly, India taught me to never give up on my dreams.
I’m a realist, and as much as I would love to live in a perfect world where every being is treated equally and with respect, I know human nature says that probably won’t happen. But I also know that people need to start stepping up to the plate in order to keep things from getting worse.
I've been home now for two weeks, and I think the culture shock coming back has been 10 times worse than what it was arriving in India. Just the other day I saw an old coworker who asked where I had been for so long. When I told him I was in India, his response left me speechless.
He scowled, wrinkled his nose in disgust and asked, “Isn't it, like, really poor over there?”
Ignorance might make the world go round, but it may stop rotating if we don’t do something to change this better-than-thou mindset many people seem to have. And even if the perfect world is just an ideal, we will never get even a fraction closer to it if people continue to turn the other cheek to the world’s problems.