India, the first culture in the world, the treasure house of ancient wisdom and scriptures, the birthplace of algebra, trigonometry and calculus, the inventors of Zero and the binary number system, the world’s first university, inventors of Yoga and Ayurveda and rightly called the cradle of human race.
As an Indian I have many reasons to revel in the glory of my origins but there is one more thing about my country that makes my heart swell with pride — it’s people and the way they conduct their lives even when they have nowhere the resources or means readily available to their US or European counterparts.
There are many valuable lessons to be learned from the stalwart spirit and intrepid valor with which Indian live their life and amaze the world (and this has nothing to do with meditation, turmeric, yoga or chess). Here are a few:
To co-exist harmoniously
With 1.2 billion people, 29 states, 7 union territories, 780 spoken languages, 7 major religions, 82237 registered newspapers, India truly is a concoction of variety and an amalgam of diversity in every sphere of life. But instead of being overwhelmed with this widespread melange, Indians accept this huge spectrum of multiplicity with open arms and happily co-exists with each other ‘complementing’ not ‘competing’ with their fellow Indians.
To dream and be hopeful
The one thing that India teaches you most is to keep the hope alive. No matter how worse the situations or scarce the resources, Indians are always hopeful for a better tomorrow for themselves and their country. Children from little villages dream of securing a respectable government job, the small tea stall owner works everyday hoping one day to buy his own shop, the timid house wife dreams of becoming master chef and the young player fidgeting with his bat in the narrow crowded alley dreams of joining the national cricket team one day.
Some say the country is running on sheer luck, I say it is running on these little hopes and dreams.
To manage shortfalls and yet lead a fulfilling life
Living in India means battling every day for even the most basic necessities and falling short of fulfilling the fundamental prerequisites of normal living – something the west cannot even fathom a day without! No electricity for 12 straight hours, no clean drinking water, no heating to protect you from the cold wintery nights, not enough money to feed those expensive fruits to your kids, Indians combats a lot of shortfalls each living day of their life. But this does not stops them from enjoying what they do have or hoping and striving for what they don’t!
To not take your blessings for granted
Living in India also means being exposed to news of sufferings, the wrong ways of the society, the plight of the unfortunate and the general unfairness of life and people around you every day. On one hand you get depressed thinking of the plight and pain of others but on the other you start seeing your own life in a different way. Before you open your mouth to complain, you remember the face of the little boy trying to sell you flowers and magazines at the last red light and you stop short in your way.
You realize how trivial your own problems are compared to what others are battling each day , that you still are way better than a lot of other people and have a lot to be grateful for. No matter what the situation, you never forget to be grateful for all that you have once you have lived in India.
To be a social ‘accommodator’
There is no other country than India that teaches you the nuances of adjusting and accommodating in every imaginable situation of life (to the minutest’ details possible)! From sharing your bed with the surprise guests (who fancied dropping in without a notice or warning), your reserved train berth with the pushy aunty and her three kids, to accommodating with smelly armpits and poking elbows in crowded metro compartments that look like they will burst any moment now you learn (willingly or otherwise), one of the most important social values i.e. to co-exist, share and still somehow retain your individuality in all this mayhem.
To share whatever little you have
Be it a pack of biscuits or the stock of potato sandwiches your mom lovingly packed in the leftover sweet box, it’s hard to take a bite without offering it to your fellow passengers during your long train journey. Though it’s your own foods , you somehow feel downright selfish and miser to even think of not sharing…it’s in your blood, it’s what you have grown up watching your elders do, it’s your customs…whatever reason you may assign to it, you just can’t help sharing.
To keep calm
Whether it’s the neighbors son whose idea of fun is to loudly bang his front door against the wall over and over again during your afternoon siesta, the delivery boy who mixes up your grocery order, the wrong number who believes you are ‘shanti home decorators’ , the salesman who throws a trash full of leaflets and adverts in your mailbox even after you declaring loudly ‘No ads’ on your front door or the maniac who parks his car right at your house entrance and then vanishes into thin air, you learn a thing or two about tolerance when living in India.
To unite in adversity
Whether It was the ruthless attack on Mumbai by militants in 2008, the bomb blast in Delhi the same year, the floods in north India in 2013, or crime against women, the nation took to the street, united in protesting and raising voices against the atrocities and fighting for a crime free India.
Unlike China that depends on its ruling elite to set the parameters and bring in reforms, India the world’s largest democracy looks up to its people to mobilize awareness and bring in change.
To make the best of what you have
A popular quote says that happiness is not about having a perfect life but readily accepting the imperfections. Indians seem to have embodied it in its full sense. And even if they do not have the most luxurious or comfortable lives, they still manage to have fun, enjoy and laugh by finding happiness in the little, simple joys of life. A family get together with tea and snacks, sharing your modest lunch box with a work colleague, taking a short boat trip and imagining it to be a titanic experience, or sitting and chatting up at your favorite food joint with a hot ginger tea, they do not need swanky hotels, expensive clothes or luxurious vacations to set their mood right! A simple dance in the rain can do the trick!
To live and let live
Visit any Metro city and you can witness the great divide that runs between two separate worlds sharing adjacent spaces, completely oblivious of the other side. Slums, diseases and hunger co-exist with multimillion mansions and hunger stares affluence in the eyes every day. Sad and astonishing as it may seem to an outsider, it’s the way of life for those living here. The wealthy do not feel guilty of their comforts and the poor do not waste their life crying for what they do not have. They just accept it!
To value and save money
With almost an absent social security system in practice, Indians know that the only security they really have is the money in their bank accounts so unlike their European or UK counterparts (who get Education and health for free from the government), we get in to the savings mode from early years.
All Indian parents instill in their kids the value of money, of reducing waste to a minimum and saving every little penny you have for a rainy day.
And even though it is an offspring of a poor social system, I find the habit of saving and understanding the importance of money useful till date and wish to instill the same in my own kids. Let’s not forget, India was one of the few countries to survive and spring back from the recession of 2008 which left the US devastated and still plagues a few European countries.