People like to joke with me that things I get myself into resemble a movie (is it a romantic comedy, a drama or a thriller?). I don't know how true that is or how much I actively try to put myself in ridiculous situations. Either way, the first 10 days in India did not disappoint.
I came here for two main reasons: 1) I've always wanted to live in India 2) My obsession is helping people create and deliver a clear message and there's a huge market for that here. You know how when you move though, you have things you're excited about experiencing once you get to the new place? I had lots of those.
Well, on my second day here, I heard some bad news about one of the activities I was hoping to spend a good deal of my free time on. I had imagined how great the experience would be. To see it kind of fall through before I really settled in was really disappointing. You know when you let yourself get excited about an event or an activity prematurely? How much does that suck? At this point, I definitely felt uneasy. To make things worse, I had to board a 12 hour bus ride to Goa. I fell asleep and woke up on a sunny morning.
Life is funny. Sometimes the smallest events (or people) can offer the most perspective. I arrived at my cousins' place in Goa to see their baby daughter sleeping. She's a tiny little thing with super curly hair. I wasn't sure if she'd remember me after 3 months. She woke up and was super shy for a few minutes. Then she finally looked at me and said, "GULLLLI!" (That's what my family and old time friends call me. My middle name is Gururaj and my sister couldn't pronounce it and said Gulli instead. All the little kids here call me GULLLLI). I hung out with her the entire day. At one point, she stood on a pillow and screamed, "Haav big usa!" (which means I'm big) and then she jumped off the pillow and screamed, "Haav saan usa!" (which means I'm small). We both couldn't stop laughing.
Later that night, my cousin took me out to the coast. We stood on the beach under a sky full of stars. I kind of smiled to myself and thought, "I am standing at the Arabian Sea looking at stars." We ate ridiculous seafood and drank our share of Kingfisher outside near the beach that night.
To get a kid's world view and then to experience the universe, in a sense, on the same day was a great feeling. The next few days were filled with a really fun wedding in Goa (filled with some amazing conversations with a really diverse crowd), a sunrise conversation with a good friend back home and more cousin time. I boarded my bus back to Bangalore excited to sleep. As soon as I sat down, the guy next to me started chatting me up. This is rare but I was pretty annoyed at first. That is until this guy started telling me about his life.
If my time in India had not already been surreal enough, get this story! He's a fish salesman in Panjim, the capital of Goa. He wakes up at 2 or 3 am every morning to take a bus to Margao, a neighboring town, to buy fresh fish. He works 6 days a week. One day a white looking dude was walking around the fish market and points over at him. Turns out the guy is a director and casts this boy for a part in an independent film. I was really skeptical of the story. I ate dinner with him that night at a rest stop (where he offered to pay) and he told me about his experience at SUNDANCE! Then he showed me a magazine with his picture on the cover. Anyway, his life has been less than wonderful. He's dealt with all sorts of shit most of us never have to think about. He's not well off by any means. He gave the money he made from the movie to his mom and sisters and kept a little for himself. He was on his way to an interview about the movie in Bangalore. I was really happy for him.
I spent the next night at another cousin's house. She kept telling stories as I was falling asleep. She was speaking in Konkani and it felt like she was telling us a bedtime story. After a while, she turned to my unmarried cousin and said, "You know what your problem is?" I thought, "Oh Lord, here we go with some wedding stuff." She backtracked a little and said, "You know what all of our problems are? Whether we choose to participate or sit back and watch, life is still moving on. Sometimes an event occurs. Sometimes something bad happens. We get so stuck on the outcome of that event that we stop participating. Life is going to go on either way. You guys should participate."
I have a bunch of other posts coming up about business prospects that are in the works, food, bathroom adventures, and lots of other stuff. After 10 days though, what have I learned? Life brings about events that are both good and bad. More often than not, we don't have control over the outcome of an event. We do however, have control over how we react to that outcome. We have control over what we learn and that allows us to become proactive in the future. I don't know if I've ever been this excited about something I've worked on. I know that all of my expectations are not going to get met. Movies always have twists and turns though right? Just wait until you see the surprise ending.