Kind disclaimer: I have not yet moved to India. My husband and I will move here October 2018 to October 2019 for his doctorate work on Tibetan Buddhism, as there is a well-known Tibetan University here amongst a few already established Buddhist holy sites and temples. We are here this Winter to figure out how we will live here for a year.
Finally arriving after twenty-two hours of travel, Jed and I followed our cab driver out to the parking lot with our two backpacks each in tow. We plopped in the run-down car and established our destination as Sarnath, a forty-five minute drive from Varanasi. The driver fiddled with the radio until he landed on a song that suited his mood for the drive. I do the same thing back home in the States.
The music reflected and enhanced all that we witnessed and all of the visceral, direct experiences that India emanates: the sway of cows as they walked across the middle of the road, the men laying bricks in mud to complete half-built homes, the barefoot children laughing as they flew their homemade kites in the brisk wind, the teenagers walking home from school in uniform with scarves across their mouth protecting their lungs, the permeating smell of burning coal and car exhaust, the dust flying as our driver quickly weaved and honked by every moving object, and the mothers rocking their young ones on the back of motorcycles cautiously moving along the hectic road. I don’t see these same things back home in the States.
We arrived at our guest house and were greeted in the small garden entrance by a woman wearing a beautifully colored Sari. With gratitude for this well-maintained facility, we thanked the host for her hospitality in showing us to our room. Although lacking the appliances of an average rental back home, and regulating extra pay per day for heated water and a space heater, the room was a palace in comparison to what most families have in this town. Culture shock is a real thing ya'll, and one needs to be given the space necessary to integrate a very different way of living. The shock reminded me of when I had moved from small town Missouri to New York City when I was nineteen... but multiplied times one hundred.
During our first couple days, my husband and I attended a conference relating religious approaches to “mind” and science. His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama attended and spoke at the first seminar, and what an incredible gift his words were. He spoke on the strength of global peace brought about through ongoing discussion. The more we can recognize our boundaries are only in place due to lack of communication about our differences in thought, the more we can cultivate opportunities for dialogue, eventually breaking down boundaries and bringing peace. He said that war was an outdated mental construct, and that we as a global consciousness can prevent war through conversation. We will realize that our strength exists in our differences.
I am beyond grateful for the flexibility that my work allows due to the open minds and creative beings that Everybody Dance Now! maintains. My colleagues understand that family takes priority, and have been supportive of my request to remain working remotely during the next year. Honesty and transparency feels nice: This is where I am at, this is what I need, how can we make it work. Community and team support feels even better: We got your back, let’s work together to find a way to make it work.
This is where we must be headed as a global consciousness: create work mindsets and opportunities that serves the employee as much as it serves the company as much as it serves the community as much as it serves our greater existence.
(Video taken on our only stretch of straight/paved driving)