“I hate going there. You can’t even take a decent shower without being bombarded by mosquitos.”
“It’s different there now. There are malls, big highways, and I’ve heard they have a new airport in Delhi as well. You’ll love it there.”
“I’m guessing they still don’t have decent showers.”
“It’s work in progress.”
The one-sided argument that almost every Indian American teen has with their parents was taking place in my home for the first time. The last time I had visited India, I had been greeted by strange smells, filthy roads, overcrowded neighborhoods, and of course, hundreds of pests. Everyone in my family had fallen sick and I had sworn to never come back again. I had things-to-do and places-to-go, and I couldn’t imagine wasting another summer in India. After all the begging and pleading, I received the same horrifying reply that kept so many like me awake at night-“You don’t exactly have a choice.”
And so I landed in Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport, looking for something to complain about. Strangely enough, I couldn’t find a single flaw. My mother had been right-this new airport was quite amazing. It was large, quiet and sanitary. There was no need to panic, however. I assumed that as soon as we would step outside of the airport, we would be greeted by the mad rickshaw drivers and polluted air that India is so well known for. As I stepped outside, prepared to pronounce my victory to my parents, I realized that I was breathing humid yet breathable air. In front of me were long lines of patiently waiting taxis organized in numbered rows for as far as my eyes could see. We climbed into a comfortable air conditioned cab, and I was greeted by a sign that asked me to put on my seatbelt. I couldn’t help but laugh-since when did anyone in India care about safety? I began to wonder-had India finally changed for the better?
The roads of Delhi shocked me. There were highways with seven to eight lanes, and the drivers were calm, and, well, significantly less crazy than usual. There were finally more cars than scooters, and an eco-friendly bus would pass by every five minutes. Even the people in the malls seemed better-behaved. Previously, Indian malls would seem like wild circuses to me. People would overcrowd the elevators, escalators, shops and even bathrooms. Surprisingly enough, our shopping experience was quite nice this time. There was a central resting area, a variety of International shops and a huge food court with cuisine from almost every corner of the world.
After accepting my defeat, I decided to take a closer look at India’s pros instead of focusing on its cons. The biggest pro that I found was the attitude of the people. Indian people feel like family. Not because of the color of their skin, or the language that they speak, but because of the fact that they will go out of their way to help others. No matter what kind of sticky situation you find yourself in, you can always count on someone nearby to lend you a hand. Whether it’s because the government is too corrupt to help them or simply because they care, Indians seem to support one another in almost every walk of life. I have to say that this is something we might need to learn from them — just being there for others, even when there’s nothing in it for you.
After coming back home, I realized that in a way, I miss India. Not for its new roads or less crowded malls, but for its people. Of course, I’d much rather live here, but I also don’t mind visiting India anymore. Yes, India has definitely changed for the better, and it will continue to do so. Besides, you might as well be optimistic, because as your parents may have already told you — “You don’t exactly have a choice.”