Sunday, my last day in Delhi was low-key. I had lunch with my family-friends who arranged for me to be treated like a king in Agra.
During lunch we chatted about Red Fort Syndrome/Phenomenon (as my family-friends have begun to refer to the concept amongst friends). Despite how Indian television shows may portray the connected nature of Indian families (i.e. Everyone knows everyones business), seemingly all the changes is forcing individuals to attempt to maintain the pace by working longer hours, traveling more, and being more connected via Blackberrys and laptops. The result is that families are becoming far more focused on their nuclear families, rather than on the community of families, friends and neighbors.
Indians are known for having chai and snacks with family-friends all the time, but now these events are diminishing. Despite all the leaps in modern conveniences — expressways, Blackberrys, EVDO cards, etc. – that should make connecting with people easier, people are too busy to actually enjoy the increased conveniences.
I have been really lucky to do a fair bit of traveling the past couple years. And, I realize that I am most jealous of the community aspect that so many countries still have. Despite what my family-friends have said about the Red Fort Phenomenon, India still seems very community-based and driven – where people actually know their neighbors.
I recall when our new neighbors were moving in NJ, and my Mom went to welcome them – they quickly went into her house and closed the door. We have tried multiple times and despite the fact that we live 20 feet away, we have no idea what their names are or anything about them.
Three years later, I think we have to simply presume they are afraid of us…
Looking back on the past couple years of the many neighbors I have had, I can barely recall any of their names or anything about them.
I really liked a quote that my neighbor from NJ that is living in Delhi had on her wall:
The Paradox of Our Age — His Holiness the 14th Dalia Lama
We have bigger houses but smaller families;
More conveniences, but less time;
We have more degrees, but less sense;
More knowledge, but less judgment;
More experts but more problems;
More medicines, but less healthiness
We’ve been all the way to the moon and back
But have trouble crossing the street to meet the new neighbor.
We build more computers to hold more information to produce more copies than ever,
But have less communication;
We have become long on quantity,
But short on quality.
These are times of fast foods,
But slow digestion;
Tall man but short character;
Steep profits but shallow relationships.
It’s a time when there is much in the window
But nothing in the room.
I left Delhi around 10PM last Sunday. I was really sad to go: I had an amazing time, in such a short amount of time. I got to meet a friend right before I left on Sunday, she said there has to be a reason you came here all of a sudden. Looking back at how perfectly everything worked out, perhaps there is. I am hoping I will be back very soon.
Right before I got in the car to head for the airport, my Aunt gave me a glass of water to take a quick sip of. Whenever I have gone on long journeys my Mom or Aunts in the states have done the same thing. I believe it’s a way of giving good luck for a safe journey. The small cultural innuendo was comforting, it made me feel at home.
I arrived in the US by 7:30AM on Monday morning, got to my apartment by 8AM, and got to work by 9:30AM — it’s been a busy week. Thanks for listening.