farewell to india (part 1)

Have you ever met someone, say at a party or any other social gathering, whom you automatically didn’t like? Not because of how he was dressed, how she talked or because of any other means of pegging the person in a category you despised, nor because he was bad, evil or ugly, but simply because you instinctively knew your personalities would clash? As the french say, the person was antipathique to you.

This happens to me every so often. i just know i’m not going to like the person and i thus avoid her. It works fine; and as long as there was no social interaction to begin with, i don’t even feel guilty, because i’m not failing my duty to love all human beings (how’s that for an ungodly admixture of kant and jesus?), i’m just not getting to know all human beings – a very understandable position, physically speaking at least.

This runs into two complications:

First, there is that “no prior social interaction” clause. What if you have gotten to know the person and only subsequently decided you didn’t like them? (worse: What if the other person persists in liking you?) As the indians around here say: “What to do?”. You will feel guilty and you will hurt the other person’s feelings, unless you manage to take the enlightened road, deciding that all people are worth knowing and you’ll look for the good. But for humans without a special divine pedigree, that line of conduct is, at times, slightly more than difficult.

For reasons of personal history, i am dead set against the just-ignore-him strategy, though it seems to be socially acceptable behavior in india. i am more inclined to a gradual approach, waiting politely until the other person’s feelings are distant enough that they won’t get mauled. But if he should ask me: “Don’t you like me anymore?” i think i’d honestly reply: “i’m sorry, i really wish i did, but i don’t” (without adding the insulting “don’t take it personally” line) even if that is probably not quite What Jesus Would Do (since he naturally liked everyone, the lucky b@$7!^%).

The second complication is where i come to the point i’ve desperately been trying to avoid throughout this entire post: what if this person is not a person but, well, a country? i immediately apologize profusely to all my kind NRI and RI readers (if anyone is still reading this far into the post (btw, i also apologize for all the parenthetical comments)), but the truth must out: i don’t really like india (at least not the parts of it i’ve seen). It’s not because i don’t like indians, nor is india a particularly bad place, i just don’t understand it or them – at all.

Now this is in part due to the fact that i initially thought i would understand india and came with that great expectation; i’ve understood nothing and leave more bewildered than i’ve ever been. Too many things have struck me as increadibly foreign, incomprehensible, and indeed sometimes just plain wrong. I do apologize, but there is not much i can do about it: i just don’t really like india.

p.s. to the sorely offended: i know you will take this personally and that a few feathers will have been ruffled by now; but try, as much as possible, to take this with a good dose of indian philosophy: i’m just explaining the way the world is (as regards me); don’t let your atman be saddened. (And i promise you a “what i like about india” post ere i leave.)

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2 Comments to “farewell to india (part 1)”

  1. You have been in India, with more than an open mind.

    You found a way of life that was
    “incredibly foreign,
    and indeed sometimes just plain wrong”.

    You gave it a try,
    in the end you did not like what you experienced.
    That is a fair and honest opinion,
    which I perceive bears no malice or ill will.

  2. thanks. i already regret the somewhat sour undertones of my post, but it now belongs to blogging history. and i sure did give it a try! quite the ride. again, thanks.

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