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Tuesday, January 31, 2012


So I am in the middle of the days reading, and one thing that occurred to me that I have kind of thought about, but haven't seriously considered and that I am not realizing I should probably very seriously consider is preparing myself for hate. That is a strong word, but I think in my excitement to get back to India, I am not preparing myself mentally for the very real and very likely possibility that this summer will not be all sunshine and roses. I know it won't. Last summer in India I was living with seven to sixteen other Americans (they came and went) and so was somewhat insulated away from Indian culture. I mean, I love love love Indian culture. I love the food, I love the people, I love the religions, I love the heat and the humidity, I love the languages, I love so many things about freaking awesome India! But as I was reading about field notes and diaries, I realize that I really do need to take serious consideration to preparing myself for when I am reacquainted with or discover new things about India that drive me crazy. I guess I am not exactly sure how to prepare myself to hate India (again, strong words, not as strong as I mean, but I hope you understand what I am talking about) other than perhaps just allow myself to be open to the idea. I don't mean that I plan to be apprehensive or distant, but just that I am aware that this can and probably will happen to some degree so that when it happens I am prepared to react appropriately.

Okay, I really have apprehensions about admitting that I have read this book and even more apprehensions in admitting that in some ways it has influenced my life, since in general I think it is honestly kind of a stupid book, but Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat Pray Love actually had what I thought was one good point. Overall I think it is full of exactly the kinds of things that stupid Americans do and perpetuates the idea that all the rest of the world exists as a playground for Americans and that we bless them by gracing them with our divine American presences. Anyhow, end rant. In the middle of the book in the India section she is at the Ashram misinterpreting Hinduism, but there is one moment that I really, really liked. It is the part where she practices...I don't know if it has a name, I will call it mosquito meditation. The book builds up to this moment, so she is working on these ideas beforehand, but it comes to ahead here. Basically what she is doing is meditating with all these distractions and pain. When she does this she kind of goes through this mental exercise where she acknowledges the annoyance or distraction, confesses she cannot do anything about it, and then sets it aside. In her mind she describes it something like "Cramped knees, I know you are hurting, but I cannot do anything about that right now, I have to keep meditating, it will be okay. I acknowledge you, but there is nothing I can do" and then sets it aside. This idea of acknowledging and embracing pain and difficulty has actually been very helpful in my life and it is what I hope to use to help me deal with any difficulties I encounter in India. India is always an exercise in patience, at least for Westerners. I hope I can just accept and embrace the terrible traffic caused by unwise decisions by Delhi's drivers, admit that it drives me crazy, and then set it aside and just move forward. A lot of dealing with difficult people or misunderstandings or differing world views will probably just come down to whether or not I can accept them with patience. I don't know how long I will be able to maintain this zen thing, but it is on my list of things I hope to be able to do while I am there. India is a lot more about existing than in America. Sometimes you just need to stop and accept/enjoy the moment even though it is hot or you have a headache or you just want to be home or you are late. There isn't anything you can do about it anyways, so let it be and see, perhaps for the first time, what is around you.


  1. Oooh you bring up a good point! When I think about what I expect to get out of Uganda, it's all sunshine and roses in my head. I guess it's one of those things where I just expect to love everything because I'm learning about a new culture, but that's not the way it's going to be. I guess I need to prepare too. Thanks for your insight!

  2. I really enjoyed reading this post Rem!! I think that you are right about that and sometimes as Westerners, we forget that life is about more than just as. If I may share some thoughts about my personal experiences really quick-perhaps it may help? if not, disregard.
    I am not American by birth, I was actually born in Colombia. I came here when I was eight years old and English was terrible to learn. I hated it. I finally learned it and kept moving on with my young life. (I am forever grateful that I lived in New York though, because I met my best friend, Amanjot Kaur, an Indian girl from Punjab. That's where my love for India started and for Sikhism!!) There were things that bothered me about "white" people. I hated how they would FREAK out when I went to give them the "hello" kiss, how they yelled "what??" when they could not understand me, how they were always rushing to everything...anyway, the list could go on. The longer I lived here, things didn't necessarily get better. Just because I was living here didn't mean I wasn't developing cultural values of my own-my mom still raised me Latina, through and through, no English in the home, nothing. Coming to College was a huge eye opener. I saw more things that I hated about gringos!! HOWEVER, it wasn't until I made the resolve to see them as they were, that my thoguht pattern changed. People are different, yes. They are annoying sometimes, YES. (White people LOVE Harry Potter and it frightens me), but honestly, as cliche, as it sounds, seeing God's children as GOD'S CHILDREN, makes the difference. I LOVE Americans, my mom married an American, my step-dad. Words cannot describe how much I love him and his culture. As I slowly started to see (and continue to do so) people around me here, as whole and perfect in their own way, my love for them increases. Things that I can't change don't bother me as much, and I can tell you that there is no place I rather live, than with the Americans-as much as I ADORE my culture and my beloved Colombia.

    1. Thank you so much for this comment! It is actually super helpful. This really helps my understanding of this issue. I am probably going to consider this and develop it more into a blog post. I am really worried about this issue. Your story is invaluable experience that I do not have and cannot readily get. Thank you for sharing it. Sorry I love Harry Potter, haha. I can't help it, lol.

  3. I just wanted to say that I really liked this blog entry. There were so many times in Italy when I'd be afraid of actually admitting that something was getting "under my skin" or was frustrating me. If I had just admitting that I was bothered by it, I may have been able to set it aside a lot easier.