There’s the yin and yang of life in India – and then there’s the yin and yang of life in India versus life in America.
I’m back home (read Southern US city) after much too long, having skipped my last planned trip due to a critical work project. It’s wonderful to be back! It smells heavenly. It looks heavenly – the beautiful, fresh green of spring again (although it feels more like summer) interspersed with fabulously blooming dogwoods. It feels and looks so clean and pristine – the air and the earth.
Forgive me the effusive praise…this is what happens when you are gone for too long.
I ended up skipping the entire winter here which, as mild as it was this season, would still have meant the use of a heavy jacket at times so that doesn’t make me that sorry. Instead, I enjoyed the mild, pleasant, unseasonably and unnaturally cool weather of Mumbai’s winter of 2011-12 where temperatures ranged from the 50s to the 70s.
I’m back for a short visit now.
Every day has been a catch up day, meeting with friends and work colleagues, sharing news, information and warmth. One night, I was at a friend’s house for dinner. Since it was a week night, we started and ended early – barely after 10 pm. I was driving back home and it really struck me then how different my two worlds really are. There was virtually no one on the roads! It was dead. At 10 pm! During Spring Break week, no less!
Where was even that hint of a cacophony of sounds that can overpower and overwhelm you in Mumbai? The honking car horns, the revving autorickshaw engines, the barking dogs…and people, people, people everywhere – it doesn’t matter if it’s midday or midnight.
And, wait a minute, was I actually missing that?!
I know that this is not a giant metropolis like Mumbai, but it’s not a tiny village either. It’s a nice-sized, right-sized Southern cosmopolitan city. Undoubtedly, this is quiet and peaceful compared to Bombay.
But listen to what someone who lives in the heart of Manhattan had to say of his recent trip to Mumbai – “It felt so quiet and peaceful in New York City immediately after I returned from Bombay”. Yep!
Other than feeling mighty wonderful about being back home for a bit, it was difficult not to notice some sea changes that are occurring in the US of A. The softness of the market is more than palpable – everybody is affected by it in one way or the other. The issue of the day: Jobs.
That usual American optimism is noticeably tempered, no matter who you talk to or what media you are reviewing. I wonder to myself, is this reversible? Yes, of course it is. This is part of the cycle that this country seems to go through every few decades…although most people’s memories don’t go back far enough to find a period as hard as this one has been.
As Republicans converge on “quantum Romney” as their candidate of choice, it will be an interesting time leading up to the election – which I will be missing and watching from across continents…:-(
No prizes for guessing what I want the outcome to be!
And Home Again
Too soon, it will be time to return to Mumbai and India where I will once again get immersed in the unique atmosphere and environment that can only be found there.
The yin and the yang... never let it be said that I don’t recognize how fortunate I am to be living and experiencing both.
City Park View: By Richard Bitting [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
Autorickshaws in Mumbai: Antônio Milena/Agência Brasil
The US of A
As I was flying back over a beautiful stretch of the southeastern United States, I couldn’t help but wonder at the natural beauty and pristine, aesthetically pleasing urban landscapes below. Yet, on a more close-up view, what I see most vividly is that the country is suffering.
The list of woes is long…it’s as if the past fifteen years have taken a huge toll on the country. What am I saying? Of course, they have!
Even as the world suffers, it’s superpower appears to suffer the most.
The Worst Economic Downturn in Most People’s Lifetime
A Debt Crisis
Jobs, or the lack thereof
The dearth of consumer confidence
Politics much worse than usual, given the coming election year
Congress and its inaction (see Politics above)
Occupy Wall Street
Worry about Europe
Worry about China
Worry about Iran
A list that is long and hardly uplifting….
Ultimately, however, I think most will agree that it all comes down to one unquestionable, fundamental problem –
It’s the Economy, Stupid.
If any country can pull itself out of this dip, steep as it might be, it’s the US of A.
So, from missing the country and being away for so long, while seeing it suffer like never before, this is simply a journal entry in my diary. It’s for myself, for reading later during the (inevitable!) good times.
And it also serves as a personal “Get Well Soon” card for America the Beautiful. Sigh.
Fall Scene: By Joel יוֹאֵל from Tullahoma, Tennessee, United States (Flaming Orange Red Autumn Tree) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
American Landscape: By Luciof (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)], via Wikimedia Commons