If you are a westerner and you come to India under the impression that you are going to serve some form of usefulness, you are bound to be disappointed. It’s not to say that usefulness cannot be attained. Quite the contrary. It’s just that useful has to be redefined, and patiently adhered to.
It struck me to today how much time one spends waiting in India. At least the West would call it waiting. They might call it a frightful list of other names too. They might start by calling it a waste. The question remains, is it a waste to spend an hour waiting because your team for the day hasn’t shown up? Or is it a waste to travel for 2 ½ hours via the bus system when you could reach your destination is less than half the time if you were capable of driving your own vehicle?
If you are a Westerner and your mind is filled with worries of what you won’t accomplish now when you go out, or lists of things you might have been doing with the time instead, then yes, I would say it’s a disturbing loss. But if you are an Indian, or a foreigner trying very hard to become an Indian, then time is never necessarily wasted. It’s time to be, to rest, to notice that you are alive, to be grateful for any number things. Time to observe the teaming mass of life at the bus stop, to notice people, to wonder about their stories, marvel that you are there sitting among them. This morning, I found time to sit barefoot on a bench swinging my feet in the breeze, to read and memorize, to talk to someone you might say wasn’t there, but he was. My team eventually came. We changed our plans, did something different. But we did something. Eventually that always happens around here. But if you are obsessed with missing the plan, then you miss out on the life given by the adventure. Just a thought, anyways.
G.K. Chesterton once said, “An adventure is an inconvenience rightly considered. An inconvenience is an adventure wrongly considered.” I’ve often wondered in the past two months if this wise man had ever spent any time in India.