The PSU Social Enterprise Magic Bus has been an amazing experience, one that will forever help to strengthen my resolve to do good before I do well. In sharing some reflections I wanted to also provide some tips to those who would also seek out the treasure that is India:
One. Do not drive a car in any major town or city. Period. Being a passenger is fretful enough. Failing that, think of yourself not as a self-determining driver expressing your rights to a lane and to not be cut off from within your protective metal shell. That will end badly for you. Instead, think of yourself as a leaf floating down a stream. This works best when crossing the street also. If you’re not sure, then just take a cue from the cows and water buffalo.
Two. Learn to say no politely. The Indian cultural etiquette towards guests feels like they have mistaken you for Vishnu or Shiva. While it is certainly nice to be pampered, you will not be able to just get up and leave, or to repay your hosts. This can put a pretty big dent in a Westerner’s notions of wealth and happiness, as well as their schedule.
Three. Just go with it. The funny thing about India is that you cant put your finger on it – its so dynamic. Cultures, worlds, languages, religions and empires have combined time and again over the past millennium, and its ability to adapt throughout history will only prove more valuable as time goes on. The only constant here is change, and during my brief time here, I have been changed permanently and irreversibly for the better.