I found my last days in Delhi hard to handle, mainly because of the 105°F weather. Two days in the city and I was ready to return to San Jose. What I wasn’t ready for was the culture shock that waited for me in the US, an assault at least as rough as the impact India has on first time visitors.
The bus from San Francisco airport, the roads, the landscape seemed blindingly clean, ordered, tidy. No driving on the wrong side of the freeway here, no motorbikes with whole families on board, no cows sleeping in the middle of the road. No litter. No smell of urine or sewage. It took some getting used to. But even a few days adjusting at home didn’t prepare me for the shock of returning to work.
I’d spent three weeks thinking of one thing at a time and long periods of not thinking at all, just being. This present moment existence brought no mystical ecstasies, just the absence of mental turmoil, an almost placid acceptance of what is.
As I was to quickly discover, this present time existence does not jive well with life a western city or with work in a dynamic western business.
My work, and it seems most people’s jobs in business, demand multi-task thinking. Multiple tasks must be juggled at any given time so multiple thoughts vie for space in the mind. It’s the nature of work and I found it overwhelming. So this is why my sleep can be unsatisfying. So this is why people complain of tension in their shoulders and back. But without the juggling of tasks, without the swirl of thoughts, without the adrenalin rush that generates, can the job get done? This is reality, just as the anarchy of Indian roads is reality.
Can living in the moment adapt to all cultures?