Originally posted March 3rd 2020
Every night in India I fall into bed like the dead. Just keeping up with the sheer energy of the place is relentless and exhilarating. Yet, at the same time life moves slowly in some ways. Distances stretch with the state of the roads and manic traffic. It takes time to get anywhere but once you’re there, everything’s done at speed. Eating is a quick sit down, order, eat, drink and out of the door before you have time to catch your breath. Arrangements that would take days in the UK are made in minutes and acted on immediately. No messing about once action is initiated. The future is vague unless it’s next week. Now is of the essence here.
The complications of family life here are also unfolding themselves to me gradually and I begin to appreciate the pressures many people are under to conform to a way of life that we would find untenable.
Threads of love tie and knot families together here in tight bonds that seem totally restrictive to me, but seem to be an essential part of Indian life. The positive values of the extended family seem to be a respect and love for the elders that has disintegrated to a great degree in the West. A sense of responsibility that the young should look after and support the elders; a firm network of support from uncles, cousins, and outer circles of relatives, even if this often seems to come with a proviso to conform to the families general direction in life.
What’s not addressed is the individual. There doesn’t seem to be much room for individual freedom as we know it. Whereas we in the West have taken individualism to it’s extremes and suffer much lonliness and isolation in our society here the pressures of the family and community life just don’t allow for anyone to be alone for long or to stray from the allotted path.
Disentangling the threads of life here is certainly challenging and always throws up more questions. There’s always been tensions between individual needs and collective responsibility in any society and here it seems it’s as difficult a balancing act as elsewhere.