Thursday, September 25, 2014

The Hardest Question

So, I mentioned in my previous blog post that I was feeling a little overwhelmed and anti-social for a few days after we got back to the US. I was trying to find the source of my anxiety and I may have figured it out.

I knew people would ask me how India was and I didn’t have a good answer. Certainly not a short and sweet answer anyhow. Not because I don’t have things to say about India. On the contrary, I have too much to say and I was afraid people wouldn’t care. I think people would listen to me for about five minutes and then tune me out, which would be understandable. But I don’t have a five-minute answer because how do you condense two and a half years of impressions and happenings (and several thousand years of history) into five minutes? You can’t. Or at least, I can’t. Not yet anyhow. I can give you snippets. Lots and lots of snippets. Snippets until you are blue in the face… but who wants that?

I’ve talked to a few friends and relatives since we came back and I have shared some things but I am careful not to spill too much too fast, lest I overwhelm them. Because India can be overwhelming in many ways. And I didn’t want to be that person, who wouldn’t shut up about their last post. Although it’s very tempting and I want to talk about India, a lot. But not everyone is willing, ready or able to listen. So I have to be patient and pace myself and spare my listeners.

I remember years ago when I first came to the US, people would hear my accent and ask me where I was from. I’d say Bulgaria and they would often ask about it. Most people didn’t know anything about Bulgaria. So, I’d tell them. Over time, I noticed that many of these people were just being social. They didn’t really want to know that much about Bulgaria or they just couldn’t relate. So eventually, I came up with “an elevator pitch about Bulgaria.” I usually say it’s in the Balkans (sandwiched between Turkey, Greece, Macedonia, Serbia, Romania and the Black Sea), that it has four seasons and that you can go skiing there in the winter and to the seaside in the summer. That it has fascinating though mostly sad history, that it’s beautiful and that the food is delicious (similar to Greek or Turkish food but better). I usually end there because that’s about the amount of information most people can handle. Anything more can be dicey. Unless the person asks for more information, of course.

I need to come up with something similar about our time in India, which will be tough because India’s so big and diverse and full of contradictions. Plus, my impressions are still quite fresh and raw. I am still processing some of them, trying to make sense of them. If I talk about India and our time there, I want to do it justice. I don’t want to make it look better or worse than it was but I also don’t want to offend anyone. I’ll keep you posted on the “elevator pitch” about our time in India. Until then, I have a bunch of unwritten blog posts swirling in my head and I feel like I can’t move on until I write them.  I need to get them off my chest, which will hopefully help me clear my head, put closure on our time in India and clean the slate for Ethiopia. My plan is to write several Retroactive India blog posts over the next few weeks so stay tuned…

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