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October 18, 2012

America in the East

I have been living in India for more than two months, and I am pleased to report that life here is not without its American qualities.  While everything, however international, has an Indian touch to it, I was very much taken by surprise upon seeing just how Western some things are in my city of Vadodara.  

One would not have to look very far to see what I am talking about. The advertisements often feature fair-skinned Indians, if not outright foreigners. The Bollywood films, though purely Indian, have characteristics about them that emulate the culture of the west. The more modern restaurants would fit in well next to those of New York City. And the clothes! If I truly wanted to dress like an Indian man, I would forgo my kurtas and pajamas for tees and polos, many of which sport American designs. I even saw someone wearing a Yankee baseball cap — good choice.

At home, I dine at a table instead of on the floor. Although everyone is provided with utensils for meals, I do sometimes try to eat the Indian way, without. For breakfast, I eat cereal and bread with butter. My bathroom, bedroom and other accommodations are all westernized, though, as I said before, with an Indian touch to them.

This is, of course, coming from an individual who resides in a populated and thriving city. Were I to travel to a village area, not half-an-hour’s drive in any direction, I would soon be confronted with the original culture of India. Villagers are often very conservative with their customs, slower to adjust and progress to the changing times, and, for those reasons, are considered to be generally more traditional. The same could be said for some parts of America, but in reality, an Indian village is so utterly different. You can imagine, then, how much explaining I have to do when I inform people that I come from a village in America.

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