We have officially been in India for a whole month (and a few days)! It was a whirlwind of a month and we’re honestly in a bit of shock that it’s already August!
There’s an Indian phrase that describes our first month here really well – “different different but same”. It could be equivalent to us saying, “kinda sorta”. It means that there are a lot of differences while still having some similarities. That’s exactly what life here feels like for us! There are differences that stare us in the face each day while we’re also faced with striking similarities along the way.
Probably one of our favorite similarities is Starbucks! It’s barely been a year since the first Starbucks opened in our city and there are already multiple locations around town. The baristas are getting to know us as we are frequenters! Yes, it tastes the same…but at half the price!
While we can get around our city in English just fine, we are learning a local language so we can speak to people in their heart language. After only three language sessions we’re amazed at the unique differences! One major difference we learned recently is the emphasis on honoring elders. Multiple words in a sentence are affected by the age of the person you’re addressing. We came across another difference when we laid out eating utensils. Our language tutor gave us a word for spoon and another for knife. When we pointed to the fork she said, “fork”. We sat there puzzled for a minute until we realized everyone eats with their hands here! They don’t need a word for “fork” because they don’t use them!
The food is probably one of the best examples of the phrase “different different but same”. Let’s take KFC for example. In the States you can buy fried chicken and french fries at KFC just like you can here. The food will be ok in the States, but here they add a yummy spice to the chicken that makes it incredibly good! Cooking at home has been an adventure. We don’t have an oven which has been slightly limiting, but we’re becoming masters at the grill we have on our rooftop!
And then sometimes the food tastes nothing like food in the States. One afternoon after we had finished a language session, our tutor asked if she could take us to go get some Indian treats. Of course we agreed to go! She took us to a nearby shop and let us sample about a dozen different treats and snacks. Below are three examples of what we found: The top left is an onion dosa (kinda sticky rice bread thing with onions and green chiles) with a coconut chutney (white sauce) and vegetable curry (orange sauce). The top right was my favorite! They take the powder from a “healthy” sport drink mix and turn it into a fudge like treat. There was some good nuts in it as well. The bottom right was the most interesting snack she got us. It was a puffy pastry thing with some spicy sauce on the inside.
Our city hosts a lot of people from Waco on a pretty regular basis. We deeply miss our friends and family, but haven’t felt a deep lack in community since we moved (emphasis on deep…there’s still a lack for sure!). Just this past week nearly 30 friends came to our house for a monthly gathering. We had a lip syncing contest. Thanks to Adam’s acting skills and my…well…I just went for it…we got Second Place Overall and the Best Lip Syncing award. Again, see how this feels different different but same?
I’m a little biased, but I think this last example might be my favorite…
I pierced my nose! If you know me you know this is pretty different for me! But y’all…I’ve been surrounded by beautiful Indian woman with these awesome nose rings for a month. I felt like I was missing out! So a friend of mine and I went for it and I’m so happy we did! I’ll never be able to look fully Indian, but I’m so happy I have something in common with many of them now. (And for anyone wondering, we went to a nice store inside a really nice mall. Everything was sterile and I’ve been properly cleaning it since then. It’s healing nicely.)
Even with the crazy amount of differences we experience daily, we are reminded often of the most obvious similarity we share with everyone in our city – we are all human. They all have families, financial responsibilities, jobs, health concerns, celebrations and rhythms to their lives. Our hope is for the moments of extreme difference to help us remain humble and remember that in the most simplest of terms we are all the same.