Confessions of a unknowing Isolationist….and how India changed all that.

Beautifully Diverse India

If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found solutions, I should point to India.
– Max Mueller (German scholar)

Once upon a time I was your everyday American.  I grew up in a small town, upon growing up and being single moved to a larger town in a more progressive state…namely California.  I had a job.  I had a gas guzzling car.  I paid my taxes.  I voted predominately Democrat although occasionally Republican depending on what my gut told me.  I believed what the news told me about what was going on with the rest of the world or ‘tsk tsked’ over the violence and poverty we were always shown.  I ate apple pie and celebrated the Fourth of July with as much pizzazz as every other ‘red blooded’ American.  I thought our country totally ruled.

And then I met my soul mate and I was no longer your everyday American.

Now I’m an American married to an Indian living in India.

Now I’m an American, viewing her home country from afar and with the new exposure of living in another country.

Now I’m an American who is starting to wake up from the isolationist views I once had (without even realizing that they were isolationist) and recognizing that they were not all my fault, that some fault falls upon the shoulders of our News Reporting Agencies and Government.

What started to wake me up was witnessing firsthand the corruption and red tape bureaucracy that you face when living in India.  I was disgusted that the information online for where to go for certain things, what documents to bring, what to do in advance…was hardly up to date or factual.  Instead, I would run pillar to post to get something as simple as my residency done.

“Ma’am, you did not bring form C with you.  You must have that to continue”.

“What is form C?  That wasn’t a document listed on the website.”

“Ma’am, Sir should have known about form C for foreigners residency and told you to bring it.”

“Why would my husband ‘just know’ this if it’s not even listed on your site or in the booklet you gave us when we first arrived???”

“Ma’am, please come back with form C, …….NEXT.”

Siiiiiiiiiigh.

So I started comparing India with America, how in America all our laws and legal documents and anything you could want to know about living by the rules in America, was either posted on official government sites or available for free at local libraries, post offices or government offices.

Then I stopped and realized that India is still very young compared to America, that she has had to contend with hostile border countries and her own internal fighting.  America was lucky, Canada never fights with anyone except over Hockey teams and scores and Mexican citizens loved the idea of the ‘American Dream’….why would they start a fight with us?

And yes, all America’s rules are posted and available for everyone to see.  Heck, you can even read any proposed Bill online that you want so that you know exactly what is being passed in the Senate and Congress.  How lucky is that?

But then the Health Care Issues started.  I too was concerned at first.  I mean, forced Health Care?  Fines that you have to pay for being uninsured?  Possibility of no private sector?  Federal funds for elective birth control measures?  Comparison’s to Universal Healthcare in Canada and Britain and how HORRIBLE it was there.  How people were waiting for a whole day to see a doctor or being denied procedures due to age.  I was hearing all sorts of mixed reviews and horrible scenario’s.

And then I realized that most of the sources of “information” were coming from FOX News or Glenn Beck or the GOP.

Being an educated, progressive Democrat….I naturally became skeptical.  Then I started doing my OWN research.  I went and read the Health Care Bill.  All 2,409 pages of it.  And I realized that I had believed propaganda that was inflammatory….rhetoric that was dangerous.  Conservative Republican lies.  Party line lies.  And I had started to believe some of it.  Without even exercising the rights provided to me by my own Country to view any and all new Bills or Addendums, to view any old Bills or to view any US Law online….I believed a giant wad of Bullpookey.

And then I went on a social networking site and found that a lot of my friends believed it too.  So I set out to publish the truth about the Bill.  I gave details about where one could read it for themselves and provided fact checking sites to ascertain which was FACT and which was FALSE.  Anything that would help people make informed decisions instead of one based of the lies that were being spewed….lies like ‘Death Panels for Seniors’ and ‘Forced Contraceptives in the water for population control’.  People were buying into these outrageous stories because it was being proclaimed by a TV News Show, Life Commentators and Politicians.  And it was all fabrication intended to incite a public outrage in order to win back control of the House, Senate, and Congress.  In essence, it was a bid for power.  Nothing else.  And when that didn’t work, they threatened to shut down the Government by refusing to allow the funds needed to pay for the passed Healthcare Bill.

Forget the millions of American’s that didn’t have Healthcare.  Forget the elderly who struggle to pay their raising healthcare costs and who generally have to choose between their medication and food.  Forget the youth with no healthcare coverage and no means to pay for it themselves.  Forget the people who have no choice but to work for company’s who only give a 32 hour work week so that they do not have to provide Health Insurance to their workers.  Forget that the private sector is so rich that even a theft of medicine amounting to $72 million was a drop in the buck to them in comparison to their $300 BILLION worth.

And right there….right there I realized that America is not the greatest country on earth.  She is rife with her own evils, political agendas and faults.  America is just a Country like all the others.  And they are all beautiful in their own right.  They are all faulty when it comes to politics and religion.

And then it hit me.  I am seeing this from afar.  I am seeing this through the eyes of a foreign news source while living in a foreign land surrounded by people with different views of America than my own.  And I understood why so many were disgusted with America.  If THIS is what they see of us, I couldn’t blame them.

Living in India, I have become more isolated physically than I ever was in America because I came here from an Isolationist country without even realizing that we could be so.  America might accept all people, all people might be free and equal there, but that does not change that she still carries some of her fears with her and has allowed her own physically isolated character to bleed into a way of being rather than an obstacle to overcome.

In India, I may be more physically isolated but this is something that I can change and am changing by learning the language and learning how to drive.

In India, I am already learning how to become a more worldly individual, understanding of the issues faced by human beings at large instead of people of certain country’s or nationalities.

In India I am learning lesson’s I should have learnt long ago.  Patience and Acceptance which are preached in America and sometimes followed, but almost always over-ruled by a faster private sector making our lives ‘better’ with the quick fix and absolute accessibility.

In India, life is sometimes hard.  You learn hard lessons and then never forget them.  You take nothing for granted.  You become resourceful again.  You wake up and live life instead of sleep walking through it.

In India, I am becoming free.

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12 thoughts on “Confessions of a unknowing Isolationist….and how India changed all that.

  1. Kat,

    In most pre-industrial cultures — including that of India — familial ties are strong (sometimes strong enough to allow inbreeding.) That is the hallmark of a tribal culture, in which the members of the same family and the tribe hunted and lived together. With vast westernization of Indian society during the past 200 years, things are relatively better, however, with certain tribal features having survived even to modern times. This phenomenon is observed even in middle eastern societies and other south Asian societies as well. Historically, in these societies, the elders of the tribe or the family made the decisions, which would explain why Indians still cling to cultural accepted, allegedly sound opinions of elders of their families (and this would also explain why most Indian dudes are mama’s boys who live with their parents and expect their moms to make dinner even at 35. Just sayin’)

    In civilized cultures, like that of the United States, people tend to lead individual lifestyles, in sharp contrast to tribal cultures. This emphasis on individualism is part of American culture, and more generally western culture. From the scientific revolution to the Enlightenment to the Industrial revolution, western civilization — during that time line — had gotten rid of the tribal elements in its culture. This explains why western societies are more progressive (culturally) and why western women are no longer expected to live like the ones in India — like, in rural areas, being forced to marry the rapist by the Old Men of the Village Panchayat.

    Your experience with a few Indians and, I reckon, only liberal Americans would not suffice to justify such a large generalization as the one you made. In fact, Americans — both collectively and on a per capita basis — give more to charity than any other nationality (like $300 billion a year, plus the tax money to Afghanistan, Haiti, and fighting AIDS in Africa, etc). Indians don’t even make the top 50 (most of the whom are “greedy” western nations, by the way).

    Someone from an unconventional Indian perspective — I certainly do — might say Indians tend to be child-like, having too much attachment to their parents; and that Indians care more about cultural/societal norms and rarely challenge conventional ideas. If you were raised in such a judgmental society you would know that. Unfortunately, *US Citizen’s* self-loathing, self-absorbed leftist world view is a huge determent.

    *Edited by Blog Owner*

    • Hi Someguy,

      Once again, sorry for the lateness in approving your post. I am approving it, but please keep in mind that I only approve comments that I feel are not offensive to another person’s culture, ideal’s or religion. While yours did not do any of those three (in my opinion they did not), the tone of the last two comments made by you were sounded very aggressive, somewhat angry and in many ways had an accusatory tone.

      I have a huge issue with anything bordering on psychologically demeaning, demoralizing or manipulative and therefore will not post it. Just an FYI.

      I’m telling you these things because I believe that what you have to say has a great deal of meaning and a perspective that most people forget to view from. Your intelligence and information assist you in this regard. I look forward to further opinions, comments and views written by you.

      Until I’m able to post more, I feel I must give this possible perspective that you may have overlooked. When one says that someone (or a people) is selfish, why did you immediately latch onto the monetary value of being generous? Is there no other form of selfishness and are American’s not guilty of it? In my own opinion, money matters very little….for a culture to been seen as truly unselfish or altruistic, it must care as much about the social, moral, economic and ecological welfare of it’s own people as it does other’s and vice versa. You say we’ve donated over $300 Billion to other country’s and organizations….that’s all fine and good, however why was the biggest cry about the Healthcare Bill, which would provide affordable and vast Healthcare to every single, living, breathing American, such a big deal? Why? Because it smacked of socialism? Because people were being told what to do with their money? Please….we’ve been told what to do with our money (sic taxes of every sort) for over a hundred years. So why? Because it would garnish our wages further…it was going to hit us hardest in the pocket. And if that isn’t a form of greedy nonesense, then I don’t what is.

      I’ll also post something on you comment tomorrow when I have more time. For now, this Liberal American girl has to get dinner ready.

  2. It’s quite funny that you excuse the incompetence of the average federal employee in India by claiming the relatively young age of India and its “troublesome” neighbors. Even if Indian sovereignty was undermined by its neighbors, what has it got to do with the lack of mention of “form C”? Do employees in India, or should they even, consider their national security before figuring out what forms to put on their website?

    Consider the following example of Taiwan: which has a genocidal history with the Empire of Japan during WW II; a bigger enemy, the big China; and is much younger than India. Should Taiwan wait another fifty years (apparently to, you know, get older) before it puts the relevant forms online for foreign residents and, more generally, efficiently run its bureaucracy — because they must be so threatened by the communists? Oh wait, they already run their country perfectly and are already developed.

    Speaking of the “young age” of India, Indians, when attempting to substantiate their alleged superiority over the west, especially the United States, cite India’s five thousand year history and its old civilization. Here you are, steadfastly, making the exact opposite claim to justify a non sequitur. That’s right, claim India is the oldest civilization in one argument and claim the exact opposite in another.

    (Note that I am aware of the young 63-year-old republic vs. the old 5000-year-old civilization of India; but Indians skillfully alternate between the two to justify their status quo.)

    I wonder if your thwarted reasoning style resonates in most of the white left-wing population in the United States (which would explain why we have Detroit in the ruins or West Virginia’s economy in free fall ), and more specifically, the females who marry Indian men. What other topsy-turvy justifications do you people have for the caste-ridden, misogynistic, racist, maladroit bureaucracy and culture of India?

    • Hey Someguy,

      I really appreciate your comments and the time and effort you took into giving an intelligent response to my blog.

      I don’t really have the appropriate time to respond to you the way I wanted to, but I wanted to approve your comment and also give my point of view a little bit.

      I think, perhaps, you may have misunderstood the significance I was trying to convey in this blog. I’ll keep it sweet and simple and then expand on it tomorrow.

      In the US, we have everything at our finger-tips, is that correct? In India, the infrastructure is incomplete and fairly pathetic given today’s technological advances and India’s role in most of the off-site IT jobs, is that also correct? So, here is my question, why is it that an American citizen, who has everything at their finger tips, would be so blazingly ignorant of what their own Government is doing? Why would such a ‘civilized’ (as you call it) country and such ‘educated’ people spend time giving credence to what a snake oil salesman (IE: Rush L., Glenn B., Fox news in general, etc) feeds them without first checking on it themselves? Is it any different, than someone in a village voting for a politician who breezes through once a year bearing gifts and asking for votes?

      Think on this perspective and see if I was excusing a culture or blaming one.

      My question would be whether your reasoning is thwarted due to some unascertained psychological precursor or just the blatant racism that sometimes runs rampant there in Durham? Being a Virginia girl myself, I know just how much more narrow minded and short sided my southern brethren can get the further south one goes. Granted, this is not always the case, but I’m sure you know the truth of the statement.

  3. Do you know about “Break Free Journeys?” I believe that the website is breakfreejourneys.com
    They do lots of white water rafting, going to the beach and other fun trips.
    I thought that it might help.
    The founder is Rushikesh Kulkarni.
    Maybe you won’t feel so isolated!

  4. Pingback: Tweets that mention Confessions of a unknowing Isolationist….and how India changed all that. « Gori Rajkumari -- Topsy.com

    • Because I am not a older, wealthier, white male who votes Republican. 😀 Also, I stand behind my President’s agenda and if something needs fixing, I ask for it to be fixed instead of yelling “Impeach!”.

  5. Well, Gori Raj. I don’t have much opinion on the politics of the US and I have only heard of and not experienced India’s corruption. But I can agree that America has a lot of corruption in her own way. Sometimes I still do not understand why people work so hard to get here. I am very proud of my country, but she still disappoints me sometimes.

    I have learned one thing by dating an Indian. That we Americans are some of the most selfish people. The majority of us could careless if our parents approve of our marriage. We could careless if we put our elderly parents in nursing homes. We are only kind to others so that we can get something from them later. Our lives revolve around the words “I” and “me”.

    In the end I guess we all have our downfalls.

    • Thank so much for the comment Kat!

      And you know, I think you are right…..about the selfishness part. The saddest thing is that I didn’t start seeing it too much until I moved to California. I grew up in a small town where even if you were a Republican or a Democrat, we all got together to help one another. We shoveled our neighbors driveways without expecting payment (although a hot chocolate and some chit chat was never turned down), we held raffles and fund raisers to help local family’s in dire and emergency need. We sent food over to people, either homemade or ordered and paid for. And then when I got to California, my neighbors would look at me as if I were the enemy. The only one’s who’s names I knew where the ones from India or other Asian community’s. It seemed even the Mexican population had taken on the US’s idea of isolationism as they would keep to themselves and not talk to any one else.

      I’m wondering what it would take to bring us back to the “We the People”? It seems like the only time that happens is when tragedy strikes. 😦

    • Hi and welcome Padma! Thank you so much for the compliment and the encouragement! I promise to do much better in my posting! There is much I have to say…I’ve just been so busy in my new life here that’s it’s hard to find time to write about it! LOL Please continue commenting and coming back!

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