Back to my routine after traveling about 20,000 km during the Christmas break. A major chunk of that number comprised of my visit back home, to Bangalore.
Many interesting things have occurred during and since the vacation. In this post I shall try to capture the amusement that was evident amidst my entourage back in India, when they wanted to know how my time here in Sweden has been. One question that I repeatedly was faced with and was trying hard not to bore myself with repetitive answering was “How has it been in Sweden for you?”
Encapsulation of all the various responses I gave was simply “My experience has been positively overwhelming”.
These discussions of course enabled me to realise quite a lot more about Sweden, and strikingly about India too! More than anything after coming here to Sweden and having lived here for a while now, I have a new ‘frame of reference’ in Einstein-ian terms. When many of my opinions, prejudices, knowledge and wisdom had all been with the subconscious submission to the fact that reality across the world was as I had experienced in India. Of course, I was aware that infrastructure and landscape was different, but the more subtler aspects like people and social constructs, values and systems, and a whole gamut of nuances that I have been made aware of.
As hard as I might find it, there is no denying that as a population, India scores low on discipline. Not even about keeping the streets dirty, or rash driving, but aspects like queues and basic courtesy.
Not just in Sweden, but even the other countries I have visited in Europe this is starkly different. This discipline of course has been reinforced into the ethos of the society and has come to become the culture. Smaller population in these regions of course is an added advantage. I would still like to make an excuse of the humongous population back in India, but of course that is not valid in any sense.
Although due to historical reasons, like modern warfaring societies, who at some point in time have had mandatory serving in the army tend to be more disciplined. In India that has never been the case, maybe that’s a reason. Just speculating.
While I will not talk about how for all my life (before I reached Sweden, that is) I had taken twelve hours of bright Sun a day for granted, another important aspect about nature that has shocked me is air, clean air. I will not pretend to have been naïve that pollution in India has not been observable, or sudden. In the last decade I vividly remember how temperatures have shot in Bangalore, and how the regular, legendary Monsoon rains have become erratic.
Coming to Europe, almost makes me morose when I realise how people in many parts of the world are not even inhaling clean air! The consciousness of keeping environment clean and sustainable use of materials is now again adhering into the culture here. Battling global warming and climate change can happen only when massive countries like India and China do A LOT.
We work hard in India. Not smartly maybe, but very hard. At the expense of one’s own health, well being of family and even the country’s – we slog. Work culture here in Europe has been another eye-opener. I have now witnessed that hard-smart-efficient work with ample time for hobbies and family can be a way of life. This is another important lesson for the new Information and Technology propelled middle class in India.
The emphasis in this post, as you must have discovered by now, has been entirely on simple aspects of our life. Things that we many a times do not wake up to appreciate unless we do not move out of our frame of reference.
This philosophical insight is what the travels have sowed in me.