I'm Not From India

Lately I’ve been struggling with what to write my next post about.  I mean I’m getting to see and do so many amazing things, so writing about adventure should be easy…right?

So not the case.

While I am totally soaking up life here in India I can’t help but wonder, why am I here?  What is my purpose for being led to live in this culture, so far away from everything I know.  Everyday I am bombarded with circumstances that remind me I am not from India.  

Here are just a few examples of what I mean…

  1. My dupatta (scarf) falls off my shoulders at least 50 times a day, and I almost tripped over it once when crossing the street, where as my Indian friends seem to function completely normally with theirs on.
  2. After finishing a meal I look down and half of my food has wound up in my lap…in other words, I stink at using my fingers to eat.
  3. I only speak one language, and everyone else knows at least 3.
  4. I can’t pronounce, or remember anyone’s name…like ever.  Once a girl cried because we met her once for 5 minutes and forgot her name.  True story.
  5. Ants on my food kinda of gross me out…but I still get served it and am expected to eat it.
  6. When I have to rewash my clothes several times because I left them on the line too long and pigeons have used them as their own personal washroom.
  7. I still get surprised when the power goes out…which happens 3-4 times a day.
  8. I have no idea what I am eating 95% of the time and when I do know, I can’t pronounce it.
  9. When I try and drink “Indian style” (drinking without putting your lips to the cup) I usually wear half of the cup, which results in more stares and giggles from other students.
  10. I misunderstand people all the time.  For example, once a guy asked to look at my phone but I thought he wanted to look down my throat so I handed him a flashlight and opened wide…that one was super awkward.

And there are daily occurrences in my life.  Everyday I am reminded of my limitations and reminded of the stereotypes that come with my white skin and blonde hair.  It doesn’t matter how hard I try and learn the language and it doesn’t matter that I wear my Salwaar and go to assembly and chapel every week the same as each other student…and it doesn’t matter that I have been at this school for the past 4 weeks, guys and girls still stare at me everyday asking me where I am from and why I am here.  

Sometimes I just wanna answer, “Good question!  I don’t really know why I am here or what I am doing.  I’m trying to figure it out just like you are!”  

But several times I have been comforted by this truth.

“To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.  Do not let me be put to shame, nor let my enemies triumph over me.  No one whose hope is in you will ever be put to shame.”  -Psalm 25:1-3

I need this verse, especially when there are a hundred times a day where I can easily allow shame to cripple me.  To be honest, I am still trying to understand why I am here and what purpose I have in a place that is so complex and challenging to understand.  It’s a process and one I am trying to embrace one day at a time with all of the challenges, mess-ups and ambiguity.  

Looking forward to understanding more clearly as to why I am here…but for today, the one thing I have come to understand is that I am not from India.

Ashley Sider