As we wait for the hired car that was supposed to arrive at 8am (it’s now 8:54am and we learned that our driver from yesterday didn’t pass on the request for this morning’s car), I’m yet again reminded of the constant need to let go of expectations.
While there are no doubt some cultural components to my mismatched expectations, I’ve come to the conclusion that the majority of it stems from a greatly diminished control over my environment than I’m accustomed to. This comes in two major areas: transportation and telecommunication.
First we do not have access to cars, although I would not wish American drivers on the Indian people. We’d be an instant hazard on the road to everyone else given how different traffic flow and inter-driver communication works. That being acknowledged, I feel very uncomfortable not being able to get myself where I need to go when necessary; the feeling of dependence on others is not something to which I’m accustomed.
Second, we can’t have local phones, allegedly because only Indian nationals can buy local SIM cards now due to concerns about terrorists. We have phones for emergencies, but they are UK numbers and calls cost $3/minute–not at all conducive for use in coordinating meetings or arranging one’s own transportation (see above). Given that my pre-trip paper was about information poverty, it’s somehow appropriate that I should be experiencing the same thing myself. Mobiles are ubiquitous and the way things get done around here, be it a quick call or a text. That we don’t have ready access to one other than mooching a call here and there off of a local further deepens the lack of control over the environment.
I’ve had many object lessons on this trip demonstrating that plans are not a schedule for the day, but rather a guideline, and that letting go of expectations and being both flexible and resourceful are the only way to stay happy. I think “Ac-Cent-Tchu-Ate the Positive” is a fitting soundtrack for this trip.