Whether you are travelling India for a week, or living in India for months at a time, you will be faced with the challenge of coping with Indian society as a foreigner. This is one of the topics that no one wants you to talk about, but everyone should know about. …But before I delve in, I’d like to address something. Please keep in mind that this applies to anyone travelling to any part of the world that is new to them. People have to adapt to different cultures all the time. I’m sure adapting to and coping with American culture is difficult for someone who has not lived in America their entire life. This post is educational, and based upon experiences and in no way maliciously generalizes anyone.
If you have not read my post about Indian Culture, please do so before continuing.
My experiences so far in India, have been positive. I expected nothing less. But as a foreigner living in India, I do have to face challenges. Most of my challenges come from the influence of Indian society.
As a girl travelling alone in India, I have to pay special attention to my safety. (A girl travelling alone anywhere has to do the same.) While it’s a choice to stay inside at night, let it be known that I was definitely able to venture out at night in America with confidence. That’s just a difference, not really a problem. I have the ability to be able to wander anywhere alone, but I seldom go off anywhere (unless it’s to go get food) on my own. I have a few friends here in India that help me, but all of them are boys. According to Indian society, and especially the local mindset, boys and girls can’t spend much time together. It doesn’t seem to matter that I am a girl travelling and living alone in India. While I understand the society and mindset perfectly, it can be quite frustrating and lonely.
I have a friend that is willing to help me and escort me places, he’s the one known as Bodyguard. Luckily his family is somewhat understanding of my situation, as he is able to escort me quite often. Except the fact that no matter where I go people stare at me. And while I don’t even notice it anymore, Bodyguard does, and he can’t stand people staring at him or the idea that someone is judging him. The only reason they are staring and judging, is because I am with him. Which is another frustrating aspect of coping with society. This is a major way in which I am indirectly affected by Indian society. Which brings me to the third point.
I realize I can never really fit in around here. While I never really cared about fitting in, in America, the realization that I will never (even kind of) fit in, in India, is a bit painful. I love who I am. I love being my strange American self. I would never change who I am, but I don’t mind adapting. It’s safe to say that anyone not native to America, can easily call themselves American after living in America for some time. It’s a harsh reality that I will probably never be able to consider myself Indian. Ahaha. 😀 Again, I don’t want to change who I am. I guess I just long to belong. I’m also tired of the restrictions that come with being an outsider. Which brings me to my fourth point.
I am encouraged to stay home a lot, because I don’t often get to go out with Bodyguard, as he doesn’t like being stared at. (Inevitable when in my company.) Yet it worries Bodyguard when I tell him I plan to go out alone. In the end, I’m stuck at home, and Bodyguard just brings me what I need. It’s frustrating, and I won’t let this cycle continue. I’m upset that people don’t want to be seen with me, and I’m even more upset that society doesn’t want to see me and my friends together… But I’m ultimately upset that there is nothing I can do about what other people think. A lesson my friends here could stand to learn from. There really is nothing anyone can do about what other people think. You just have to live according to what makes you happy, and do your best to be a good human being.
I’m not going to challenge society, but I’m not going to be a victim of it either. What other people think, is their responsibility, not mine. I’ll always respect the rules of the culture, but I won’t be suffocated by judgement.
In the end, I can’t say that there is something wrong with Indian society. I’m not here to cast judgement, and it’s not my place. The way things are here, seem to work well for the people living here. My only problem with all of this, is being considered an outsider, so much so, that it restricts my ability to live normally.
There is a woman, so I have heard, in Jhansi that is from Greece. She married an Indian man here, and settled in this city. People still stare at her, I’m sure, but she no longer cares. She drives her son around on their scooter and they live normally. Ha… I wish I could meet with her. I want to live normally, or at least as close to normal as I can get. Maybe it takes years.
Regardless of all of my challenges, I know I’ll overcome them, and I really am enjoying my time here. I’m looking forward to all of my upcoming adventures and I can’t wait to tell you all about them!
Until then, Goodnight India. ♥ (I love you no matter what.)
Good afternoon, America. ♥