Culture shock is quite possibly the weirdest phenomenon in the world. After being here for about 9 months, I remember doing a little happy dance. I thought, “Wow, I’m really starting to feel at home here. I love it here. I’m rockin' this language and people are making sense. Things are great!” But, this came only after some real wrestling with culture mind you. There were many moments where I thought I would never, EVER understand anyone around me! But, after some time, there was a shift in my heart. I still didn’t understand everything, but I was seriously happy and adjusted. Well, at least I was adjusted to what I was experiencing on a daily basis thus far.
Alas, in the past three months or so, we’ve entered into a new phase of life here. Our first year was about learning to survive in this culture, making friends and learning language. But as we’ve transitioned into our second year here, we are starting to enter into some new roles, namely as business people and parents. Let’s just say life isn’t all biryani and roses these days!
It is crazy how the introduction of these two new roles has given us a totally different wave of culture shock woes. I’m normally pretty go with the flow, but suddenly, with the thought of bringing my sweet baby into this world, poor health care, mice infestations, crappy plumbing (pun completely intended, but that is another story altogether) and flooding haven’t seemed like only a tiny nuisance. Instead they seem huge, annoying, even scary. When we moved here, we laughed it off that it took two months to get a government approved gas connection and the irony of the post office never having stamps (seriously? This is a post office, right?) became a joke of sorts. But, now that we are in the big middle of trying to get a legal business entity up and running, it is quite possible that I will go postal on someone at a government office. So, if one day, you see on the news that some American woman totally freaked out in some Indian government office and now is in a mice infested jail cell because of her crimes, just know it is me, ha ha.
Lately, it seems I am always fighting… for my unborn child, for our business, for my house to not fall apart or be overtaken by mice, sewage or mold. It isn’t really individuals I am fighting, although a few poor souls have certainly suffered the brunt of my frustration! It is nature, lack of education, a corrupt government, broken bureaucratic systems, poverty, prejudice towards foreigners, gender biases, barriers between communities, religious strongholds, and deficiencies in my own language skills. To be totally honest, it scares me a bit that we are only just beginning and I’m already feeling a little exhausted by it all.
So, as I see it, I have two options: insanity leading to a government office freak out and jail time, or a serious encounter with God that gives me a tenacious, fighting persistence combined with love that is far beyond what I am capable of on my own. So friends, lets pray for the second option.