November 8, 2011

Life is an Indian Adventure

“If everything was easy, there wouldn’t be any fun.”

During the midst of a bit of confusion at the mall, a hallmate of mine uttered this with a smile on her face. There wasn’t mass chaos, just confusion about what cookies were wanted and where exactly to pay and check out. I don’t think there is a quote more fitting to apply to my experience in India than this quote.

My Indian experience has been marked with new experiences in new places, new sights, new smells, new languages, new cultures, and new and different things every day. Sometimes we met frustrating experiences from dealing with the bureaucracy trying to register as foreigners or trying to make our ID cards with the  Dean's office. Seriously, some of those crazy stressful moments are the ones that we can look back and laugh at the hardest. They are the most fun to think about. I have learned to laugh at difficult moments and laugh at them hard. I have found so much joy in the difficult things of this experience.  

Exhibit A
Travel to Pondicherry from Chennai
On our way to Pondicherry we rode the train to Nungambakkam, which is about 45 minutes away. Then caught an auto outside of the station to the Coimbatore Bus Station, which is about 20 minutes away. We then had to ask which buses went to Pondy and we ended up jumping on a bus on Platform 3, instead of 2. Our bus was very comfortable with individual seats and room for luggage above your head. Once the bus starts moving, a ticket master comes by and collects Rupees in exchange for a ticket. We were caught in early morning traffic and it took about 2 hours just to get out of the city and then another 3-4 hours to get to Pondicherry. We got off the bus, found an auto, and made our way to the Hotel.

Travel from Pondicherry to Chennai 
However, going home to Chennai we found our way to the Pondicherry Bus Stand. We asked a police officer which bus was headed to Chennai, especially Tambaram, where we live. He pointed us in the right direction. We found we had to stand in line, to receive a token to reserve a bus seat for us. JJ did that kindly. This bus more closely resembled a city bus and we climbed on and experienced chaos. We didn’t realize that our tokens reserved actual seats for us with numbers and everything. So, we all sat together near the front. Then people whose seats we were occupying came by and were rather frustrated that we didn’t understand the procedure. The aisle was full and 4 of our seats ended up being in the very back. JJ and I made our way to the very back and sat with another gentleman on a 3 seater. I had a big bag, because I bought an extra to take home while in Pondi and had stuffed my backpack into it. I sat that upright on my lap and then JJ and I just kind of laughed at the whole situation. The ticketmaster offered to move my bag to the floor by the door, which was nice. Then, however, we realized that the seat in front of us was broken and the seat leaned back until it was on top of our knees – putting pressure the whole time. This bus didn’t take us straight to Tambaram, we had to get off and then find another bus, but that really wasn’t a big deal. People in India are super helpful.

Clearly, the ride home wasn’t as comfortable as the one to Pondy, but there was no use wasting energy by being miserable over a situation I don’t have control over. Besides, JJ and I couldn’t help by smile and laugh over the craziness of boarding that bus bound for Chennai. If we had expected the EXACT same situation on the way home or even something a little less crazy – we would have been disappointed and upset. But we managed to find the hilarity in the craziness, which is truly where the fun lies.

Today, I was reflecting on why people become disappointed with something. It is when their expectations of a person or a situation are not met as they had originally anticipated. Then I thought that was a little silly as most things we become disappointed in are things outside of ourselves, events or circumstances outside of our control. (Unless we are disappointed with our own performances or thoughts or feelings.) We don't have full control of what happens to us, but we do have full control of how we respond to it. 

Living life should not be an inconvenience, nor should it be smooth sailing. Life is an adventure and sometimes things are crazy or difficult, but learning how to find joy and purpose from those moments are what life's all about. The world isn't all about you, but the world is FOR you. God is FOR you. 

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
James 1:2-4


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