Through a slit in the curtains
As we enter Bangalore on the bus ride back from Mysore, I watch the city pass by through a slit in the curtains. I made sure to keep the curtains mostly closed as not to disturb Sandra sleeping next to me. My limited vision provided a surprisingly insightful point of view. It made me focus on individual characteristics instead of a larger picture: the people, what they wore, how they walked, their mode of transportation. Smiles, frowns, joy, and frustration were among the many expressions observed. People waiting for rickshaws: some patient, others annoyed. Kids running around excitedly and adults appearing exhausted after a long day of work.
So, how different are we really? People view the U.S., as a whole, as much better off than India. Many in India admire America and praise lighter skin because they aspire to be more like Americans. But why? Why do we consider ourselves to be so much more developed? Some may even be naïve enough to say that we are better than the people of India. But why? Because we have fancy infrastructure and expensive cars and houses? Because we were lucky enough to grow up in a first world country and receive world class education? We are not so different.
The more I talk to the people here and make real connections, the more similarities I see rather than differences. The emotions we feel are the same. You can find similar senses of humor, the same reasons for frustration, the same curiosity, and most importantly, the same love. I have witnessed actions of intense love from parents to their children and vice versa.
Why do we keep generalizing countries instead of focusing on the experiences of individuals and understanding that the people should not be judged uniformly?
So what else really matters? Why is there such a racial and economic divide in the world? As I stare outside through the slit in the curtains, I search for a reason for division, a reason for discrimination. I struggle to find such a reason through my focused view of each individual. Looking at the larger picture may cause people to focus on the differences, which I, admittedly, am also guilty of, so I am grateful for this newfound point of view. I feel extremely lucky to have the opportunity to be in this country and to witness the lives of the people and sincerely hope that others have the chance to visit places like India, find a new perspective, and get a better understanding of the fact that we are not, in fact, so different.