My Journey to India – May 2010

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June 7, 2010

All that I write today is because of the need to share my love for my parents, family and India. After 3 years 3 months I visited India in May 2010 for my brother’s wedding (Reception Ceremony & Wedding Ceremony). It is a long time for anyone to visit one’s own country and it sure brought in some real great memories and experiences for me.

The first few days of me being in India were all about adjustment (including recovering from Jet Lag).

Adjustment to:
1. The weather (hot & humid)
2. The people (extremely socially active)
3. The inflation (high prices met with higher demand for goods and services)
4. The food (spicy, hot and greasy)

My parents tried to make me comfortable as much as possible and I tried to make adjustments to suite both ends.

Weather:
1. The weather in Mumbai was about 85 degrees Fahrenheit. Very hot and humid.
2. To keep myself cool, I drank plenty of water and fluids. Every day I used to drink Coconut Water Juice and other juices including Orange and Black Jamun.
3. At our place using an Air Conditioner every day at home is not considered a necessity. However, considering the weather change from Boston (60F when I left) to Mumbai (85-90F), using Air Conditioner at home was just a matter of choice.

People:
1. People in India are bound by a number of social interactions. What I mean by that is they have too many occasions/functions/parties/birthdays/reminders etc. to attend to. If you don’t attend or are not a part of an occasion, the other person feels hurt and might possibly give you an earful.
2. People care about you. They would make a point that you are well fed, and that your comfort is taken care of.
3. People are turning western and slowly but steadily their cultural habits are changing.
4. People are taking good care of their Maids & those that serve them. (May be because they fear the extra work they will have to do when not having a Maid)

Inflation:
1. The spending capacity of people in India has increased tremendously. What one family of 4 used to spend at a dinner (in a good restaurant) is now what a couple spends.
2. People in India want quick money. (90% of all that I know invest in Stocks)
3. Each shop that you go for shopping (be it clothes or jewelry) the store associate will ask you “How much are you willing to spend? Or what is your price range?”

Food:
1. Possibly one of the best things in India is the variety of food you get. Food tastes different in India. You like the sweetness of the food here.
2. People feed you as if you are not going to get to eat again. You are always offered a dessert at the beginning and at the end of the meal.
3. You will always like what your mother cooks in India and you will always eat the food that you won’t get in Boston (or anywhere else)

What I call adjustments (Weather, People, Inflation, and Food) is probably what I would also call as Life in India.

The Wedding:
1. Hosting a Wedding for 2000 people in India takes a lot of Planning and Patience.
2. Being on a short trip all of our shopping (clothes, jewelry etc) for the wedding is done within 7-10 days.
3. Wedding means you need to celebrate an occasion making sure everyone is happy and that you adjust to the needs of your guests and fellow family members.
4. Wedding celebration includes:
a) Mehendi Celebration – Coloring of hands/legs and body parts with Henna;
b) Sangeet Celebration – A time where both the bride and the groom family meet and sing songs for celebrating the occasion;
c) Main Wedding Ceremony – The priest weds the bride and the groom;
d) Reception Ceremony – To congratulate the newlywed members

The wedding was splendid. It brought back memories from my marriage. One thing that I now advise all those that are getting married is “Enjoy your wedding day”. During my wedding I was possibly lost in all that was happening that I couldn’t take enough time to look around and enjoy the day.

India:
1. (Mainly in Mumbai) every block that I visited had some sort of new building, new bridge or a new mall construction going on.
2. Prices of Land have increased extremely. I believe it’s a bubble and like all markets it will burst. After an upward trend there is definitely going to be a downward trend and prices of land will decrease.
3. Gold prices are at all time high
4. People have been brought up with “Savings” as their base. However lately they are spending more than they are earning
5. People have become choosy. Previously they had only a few selection choices, but now in any market segment they have hundreds of choices to make intelligent decisions.
6. Poor are becoming poorer and the rich are becoming richer.
7. Every retail item will be customized to fit your size/need.
8. Lots of people have ideas but not many have the courage to implement them.

Something’s that make you feel you are in India:
1. Sign on the back of a truck “Horn OK Please”
2. Sign on the back of a truck “Mera Bharat Mahan”
3. Driving without giving signals and Driving in the middle of the lane.
4. Sign in a store “Fixed Rate. No Guarantee. No Exchange. Eatables Not Allowed”
5. Sign on the Auto Rikshaw (Meter Box) “Don’t Touch Me”
6. Road Speed 30 Km/Hr – People Drive @ 65 Km/Kr

Some tips and memorable lessons that I was taught by my elders during this trip:
1. Learn to Adjust and Compromise and you will lead a fruitful life
2. Enjoy your life as you get chances because these will be your memorable times that you will remember for years to come
3. Exercise or at least take a walk to keep your body fit and fine. You will never know when the rust of time will make you incapable of being how you are today
4. In India, even a person that is not as educated as one is makes millions. What good is anyone one if he/she who has studied abroad with higher education but cannot beat the street smart.
5. Take risks. When you have get an opportunity take it as Opportunity strikes very softly.

What I have seen can be easily described as “Organized Chaos“. It is crowded, chaotic and full of interesting people, but you still love it. May be this trip was one of my most mature trip as I understood how I lived and what I miss the most.

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