One world and its infinite number of others

by Mackenzie Armstrong

I have a few rhetorical questions.
Where would you find two dogs mating in the street?
Or a man selling teeth?
Or a woman who asks you to touch her snake for a small charge?
Or people washing themselves in the streets after a flash flood?
Or a couple being hollered at for hugging in public?
You would find them in India, where I write this article.
Unsurprisingly, you can fly across half of this earth and be surprised by a lot. People are people, but there is a lot more than their words and their laughs that are different. You will see a man massaging another man’s hand on a street corner, exchanging words. In Canada, you might think that they are a homosexual couple. In India, you will probably think that they are friends.
When you come to a land where everything is so strange and so conflicting with what our brain tells you is normal, you experience something more than culture shock. I consider culture shock as something your stomach feels because you are a moron for feeding it spicy masala when it thrives on mashed potatoes and peas.
In a different world, your body continues to suffer long past the initial ‘shock’. Your psyche is bombarded with unfamiliar people, with their unfamiliar manners and their, at times, insulting mannerisms. Your body is changed by the heat, the mosquitoes, the broken roads and the pollution. Mind and matter are altered indefinitely and definitely, for the worse and the better.
India is itself changing. It is on the brink of becoming a super power. I use the phrase ‘on the brink’ lightly and if you spent five minutes in the middle of Bangalore or in an airport in Mumbai, you would know why. A country that has so much chaos, so many slums, so many bored faces, and so much idling is not an arm’s length away from becoming a world leader. I write this as a native of a capitalist country and somewhat reluctantly. India as a developed country is like a girl on her first date. It is unsure, fumbling, and stuttering. But it also has a lot of heart and is beautiful.
And now for a word on why it is beautiful. Ordering anything in India with an English tongue stuck to the bottom of your mouth is a test of patience. Like a true North American, when I heard that there was a Domino’s down the street from our hotel I could already taste the cheese and tomato sauce.
Fifteen minutes and my most excruciating telephone experience later, the Domino’s employee finally understood that I wanted a medium cheese pizza. Forty-five minutes later, my medium cheese pizza was delivered with a bill for a medium pepperoni pizza. It was twice the price but the effort it would have required for me to explain to the delivery man the mistake was convincing enough for me to ignore it.
One day later, I receive a phone call. It is a Domino’s employee. He began apologizing for his error and asked what time he could personally deliver the extra few dollars that he owed me. After I pulled my English tongue back into my mouth, I told him what time and thanked him.
If that is what it means to be an unsure, flumbing, and stuttering country on the brink of becoming a super power, let us all hope that ‘on the brink’ is a lot longer than it sounds.   

[Mackenzie Armstrong] [Admitted Introvert] [And May Humanity Improve!] [Drink Because It's Bad For You] [Endurance Through The Ages] [Life, Death & Everything Else] [Of A Hobbit & Your Dreams] [Punch His Face] [Strand By Strand] [The Politics Of Saving Lives] [War Should Not Be Natural] [You And I At The Zoo] [The Large Life In A Small Cement Building] [One world and its infinite number of others]