Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

After a week or two back in Los Angeles, we couldn't help but reflect on our life here. We invariably get asked by everyone we meet about how it feels to be back. I will try to summarize this as best as I can.

We have lived here for twenty years and this is the place where both Mona and I entered adulthood. The place is an integral part of our lives. We have friends and family and a home here. We went to university in LA, met on campus, got married in Marina Del Ray, had children, built our careers, had a dog and created a life. We are proud when the Lakers and the Trojans win championships. We love the diversity here. We have traveled around the country and seen some of the most beautiful and amazing sites in the country. This is all good.

After living in India for over two years, we realize that what we miss the most from our Indian life is the feeling of connectedness. Communities, families and neighborhoods in India are intensely social. In a country of over a billion people, you would expect people everywhere. People are friendly, caring and welcoming. There is less pressure on Aanish and Ayaana to grow up into adults and they can be kids. Children enjoy much more freedom as the systems are not as rigid and constrained by rules as they are here. Another issue that becomes evident is that we are living in a culture of excess here. In India, resources are limited and hence valued much more. Within a week of being in the US, we can see the disproportionate amount of consumption that we have had between the two environments. This is bad.

One thing that has struck us hard is the impact of the bad economy here. The effects of the global meltdown are not as obvious in India as they are here in the US. Almost everybody that we know and have met during our visit has been impacted in some way. Stores that we used to frequent are out of business. Restaurants are no longer packed. There seem to be fewer cars on the road. Even the daily newspaper has shrunk in size and content. It's ugly out here.

So what does all of this mean? Who knows? You've got to enjoy the good, do the best you can to avoid or eliminate the bad and hope that the ugly goes away. Take each day as it comes and enjoy it to the fullest no matter where you are in the world!