05 January, 2011

Seeking Culture Shock (or the idea of it)

Culture shock...

Where are you and what do you look like? I have heard plenty about you and have always wanted to meet you in person and get to know you. Well, and have my own opinion about you.

 A couple of years back, hubby's office transferred him to the company's corporate office in CA and so we moved. And I thought, here's my chance at finally knowing you. 

To US we moved. What I saw barely shocked me or even surprised me. I had already seen some of what I was seeing, heard most of it and read about all of it. Nothing was really new, leave alone be flabbergasted by anything.

I was deeply disappointed by your absense. To make myself feel better I sought a silver lining: Maybe I'd get to meet your younger (and brattier) brother on returning to India. Soon my wish to shake hands with 'Reverse Culture Shock' only got intense. This was bound to be more interesting than just Mr. culture shock, I was sure.

Anyway, two and a half years or almost that, went by. It was only a few months ago that I was looking forward to making my first trip back home to see for myself how culturally shocked I would be (it's the Reverse Culture Shock that I'm talking about)

One November evening I landed in India and waited for THE SHOCK to knock me down.

To my utter dismay, wait as I did, Reverse Culture Shock too failed to turn up to receive me. Nor did I brush shoulders with him in the days that ensued. Or was it that he was present and I only failed to recognise him?

Everything seemed just the same, just the way it had always been in `motherland.' Everything seemed familiar -- just the way it was when we left there -- and the two odd years away just felt like a few days (honest).

Coming back to the second shock sibling: I have heard that you have had rendezvous with even those who have been out for the country for a couple of weeks. Honestly I did want to have a face to face meeting with you; really wanted to know how you would make 'me' feel. Alas!

I was surprised that I wanted to go on an autorikshaw ride again, wanted to have some of that tasty roadside chaat and yearned to hear the sounds of an Indian railway station:  the raised voices of porters and chai vendors (Thankfully I got to do that). 

Obviously you weren't there. Or is something wrong with me that I failed to see you. Or were you avoiding me because I was desperately looking for you? Or was I just returning to something that was already a melting pot?

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