Daisy: What kind of a garden do you come from?
Alice: Oh, I don’t come from any garden.
Daisy: Do you suppose she’s a wildflower?
I live in an environment I did not grow up in. In many ways, it is quite contrary to my default settings. I must admit that this is not so new to me anymore. I’ve been living in a variety of new environments the majority of my adult life.
But, India “is like that only.”
So, how do I make it work?
My current environment has lots and lots of labeling. Which country/community/language group/caste/color/religion/school/profession do you belong to? Much of who you are is inferred from your affiliations.
My default setting also has labels, but is somewhat different. My default tells me that I have many labels to choose from. They are, in many a case, interchangeable. Here, you tend to be born into your most important labels. This leaves me a fierce individualist living inside an equally fierce conglomeration of communities.
Is it possible that “never the twain shall meet?”
Not at all. Just because you may be wired one way does not preclude adaptation. In fact, we are all wired for adaptation. It is often stated that each thing contains its own opposite – the notion of the duality of nature. I have no problem keeping this in mind. In fact, it is one of the joys of being here. My separateness is the adhesive which binds me to my “communities” here. My coming from outside and choosing to live here becomes a bonding agent.
I can love where I am and enjoy what it offers without being “from” there. I can be a taxpayer and resident. I can learn some local language and enjoy the assorted food and entertainment to be had. Just like a local, I live in an area flat and commute by auto-rickshaw. I use my neighborhood shops. I took the time t join clubs and organizations.
However, I accept that I will always be that “other.” By working on comprehending regional context, I can adapt. I can adjust. My enthusiasm to learn and adapt is also perceived as showing respect for my host, which can never be a bad thing I can still be accepted locally because welcome goes both ways.
Anyway, who doesn’t like wildflowers?