Culture Shock: Privacy

Culture Shock: Privacy
india chaos chor bazaar

Chor Bazaar in Bombay.(Photo by Eric Parker)

There are so many things I had to live with and was NOT accustomed to when I moved to India. Slowly, some of those things are becoming tolerable. Some are still not. One may experience culture shock when moving to a different country, and usually, when people visit or move to India, those things include: massive poverty, adults and kids doing their private business out on the streets, the crazy roads, the smells, the cows, the staring, the dirtiness, the crowds… As soon as you step out of the Chhatrapati Shivaji (Bombay) Airport, chaos is apparent. (On a side note, every time I arrive to India, the airport has been improved.)

elephant railway crossing

Elephant at a Mumbai railway crossing (Photo by Arpana/Rajal)

mumbai traffic

Evening traffic, Mumbai (Photo by Christopher Rose)

But not me, none of those things affect me because I know to expect them when arriving here, and frankly, and possibly unfortunately, I am used to them. In fact, my first time in India, I was 6 years old, so I don’t remember ever experiencing culture shock in India, that is until Josh and I moved into our house about 2 months ago.

Visiting and living in India are two completely different experiences.

One of the first culture shocks I experienced was the privacy intrusion:

I love my privacy. Ever since I can remember, at home, I used to spend most of the time by myself in my room (painting, using the computer, watching tv, eating chocolate, reading, writing…), and even though I wasn’t hiding from anything, it bugged me when the door was open. Major pet peeve growing up: whenever anyone entered my room and left without closing the door. Having said that, I also loved spending time with friends, outside in the world, but always enjoyed my time alone.

Then, when I moved to the U.S. to be with Josh, it was always just us two. Which was totally comfortable, (it is kind of crazy how Josh and I never get tired of each other), we never had people over (we would always come to them, or meet at a 3rd place), and obviously didn’t have maids or cooks (because no one does in the U.S.) So!… When we moved to a house in India, the lack of privacy was a major culture shockI even wrote about it back in July.

We had people dropping in, unannounced, many times a days. They were just trying to be helpful and asking if we needed anything, and sometimes bringing food. But it really became too much. They were dropping in when we were still sleeping; they were dropping in during the day, afternoon, and night. Even workers don’t schedule visits, they drop in when they can. I was unhappy about all this. Even though I do appreciate the help to get settled, I still felt invaded. Almost felt the pain in my heart.

Now, people have learned not to come before 1pm, whether we are awake or not, and the visits, even though they are still happening, have reduced. There has not been one single day where we have had the house all to ourselves. I would still love that, but I have learned to tolerate and get used to the drop-in visits, they don’t surprise me anymore.

Here’s a tip about complaining: A few days ago, I was feeling very frustrated about this whole privacy thing, and specifically about the one person who was coming to our house many times a day. I was going to complain to Josh about it, (he receives a lot of my complaints because he’s basically the only person I have to talk to, and I’m sure it’s getting old), and some of these complaints might come out as backbiting, something God doesn’t like at all, so we try not to backbite as much as possible. I complain to Josh as a way to vent, but before I went to him to complain about this, I remembered something I had recently read online about taking your complaints to God, so I gave it a shot. For the first time, I complained and talked about my feelings about this person to God instead of to Josh. And guess what? It worked like a charm!

Over the next few days, this guy reduced his visits and the length of his visits. Plus, the venting purpose worked too because I didn’t feel the need to tell Josh or anyone else about this feeling I was having. It was amazing. I am not saying here that if you take a complaint to God, He will fix whatever it is, (even though He did make it better this time), but I do suggest you give it a try. I know I will try to remember to continue doing this whenever I have a complaint.

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